VOL. XXIV, NO. 3
Top 10 of the Top 100
By Michael S. Fey, Ph.D.
Part 6 of 10
This is the sixth installment of a 10-part series
to present the Top 10 of the Top 100 Morgan dollar varieties.
The sixth example of the Top 10 of the Top 100 that we will consider is a class of variety that I have labeled as major doubled dies.
These were among our easiest of the Top 10 picks. The 1888 O VAM 4, aptly named the “Hotlips,” is the most eyeball noticeable doubled die obverse in the entire Morgan dollar series (Photo 1).
Ms. Liberty’s nose, lips and chin are noticeably doubled even in grades as low as good. In grades below AU, this classic Red Book variety is only scarce (R4). However, in AU or finer condition, it is both rare and desirable (R5 and higher) and is still highly undervalued.
The 1888 O VAM 4 “Hotlips” is exceedingly rare in Mint State with only one certified, an ANACS MS 61. The spectacular “Hotlips” variety can still be purchased for about $1000 in AU, but don’t expect that to last too long. A PCGS AU58 recently sold for more than $7000 in auction.
The classic Red Book variety, the 1901 VAM 3 doubled die reverse, is also referred to as the “7/7” tail feather or “Shifted Eagle.”
The 1901 “Shifted Eagle” exhibits the most eyeball noticeable doubled die reverse in the entire Morgan dollar series. Although first seen as an extra set of tail feathers protruding beneath the final design (Photo 2), doubling can also be seen on the eagle’s beak, feathers arrows, branches and leaves.
The 1901 Philadelphia issue is a better date in higher circulated grades. It is tough to find this variety in any grade (R5 or better), but becomes remarkably rare in AU or better (R6-R7). It is exceedingly rare in Mint State with only 2 specimens certified, an MS 60 and an MS 61 by ANACS. A PCGS AU 58 recently sold in auction for $6618.
Other interesting Top 100 Morgan dollar doubled die varieties worthy of mention include the ultra rare 1878 7/3 TF VAM 44 tripled cotton blossoms and leaves, the 1878 cc VAMs 6, 18, and 24 doubled cotton blossoms and leaves, the 1888 o doubled arrows reverse, the 1900 VAMs 11 and 24 doubled arrows reverse, and the rare 1902 VAM 4 doubled ear.
In the next issue, we will explore the seventh of the Top 10 of the Top 100, Major Die Breaks/Gouges.
Knowledge is King!