VOL. XXIV, NO. 2
Top 10 of the Top 100
By Michael S. Fey, Ph.D.
Part 5 or 10
This is the fifth installment of a 10-part series
to present the Top 10 of the Top 100 Morgan dollar varieties.
The fifth example of the Top 10 of the Top 100 that we will consider is among the classes of varieties that I call “Overdates and Over Mintmarks.”
There are so many great varieties from which to choose! There are the 1880 VAMs 6 “8/7 Spikes,” VAM 7 “8/7 Crossbar,” and VAM 8 “8/7 Ears” overdates. There are the 1880 cc VAMs 4 (reverse of 1878), VAM 5, and VAM 6 “8/7” eyeball noticeable over dates, and the 1880 S VAMs 8, 9, and 10 “8/7” overdates. All these are from just one year: 1880!
There are the classic Redbook and Greysheet listed 1887 and 1887 O “7/6 overdates,” as well as three different 1882 “O/S” over mintmark varieties, and eight different 1900 “O/CC” over mintmark varieties.
In particular, the 1880 VAM 8 “8/7 Ears” deserves an honorable mention as a very rare overdate in any grade, as does the 1900 O/CC VAM 9 over mintmark and the recently discovered 1900 O/CC VAM 7A with a small die chip atop the first 9 in the date. However, our selection for a Top 10 variety from these calluses of varieties would have to go to the 1882 O/S Early Die State VAM 4 “Recessed O/S” over mintmark.
While the 1882 O/S VAM 4 is relatively available up to high certified Mint State grades, fewer than half a dozen specimens are known of the prooflike “Early Die State.” To date, there are no Mint State specimens known.
On this ultra rare variety, it’s not what you see that makes it great, but what it represents. This is one of the most elusive keys to the entire Top 100 series.
When was the last time that you saw any 1882 O/S varieties in prooflike or deep mirror prooflike condition? They are all quite rare, but the VAM 4 EDS is by far the rarest. A sole AU specimen uncovered from the Binion Hoard brought in excess of $2000 at auction a few years ago. I have not heard of another showing up since. Does anyone really care? You bet! There’s a small army of Top 100 VAM collectors who would love the opportunity to acquire one. So, the demand for this variety as well as many other rare Top 100 varieties has yet to be satisfied.
The key to identifying all the 1882 O/S varieties in any grade is not necessarily the appearance of the crossbar of the “S” within the mint mark “O.” All of these varieties show tiny raised dots of metal on both sides of the coin, especially in recessed areas, as the coin was struck from rusted dies at the relatively humid New Orleans Mint.
In the next issue, we will explore the sixth of the Top 10 of the Top 100, “Major Doubled Dies.”
Knowledge is King!