VOL. XXVI, NO. 1
Peace Dollars Top 50 Takes Center Stage
By Mike Faraone
Peace dollars and Peace dollar varieties have always been considered the Stepchild or Ugly Duckling of dollar collecting. The design change in 1922 to the lower relief took away some of the inherent beauty, but for me, a full struck gem Peace dollar is a coin worthy of any collection. Our perception of the lowly Peace dollar is changing. The finest known #1 PCGS registry of Top 50 Peace dollars recently sold for a staggering amount. The set owned by a Florida collector contained 31 coins that were tied for finest known and 13 that were finest known with no coin graded equal or higher. That’s 44 coins out of 50 that were the highest grade possible (PCGS graded). At the recent FUN show in Orlando, a 1923 VAM-1D Whisker Cheek PCGS 64 sold for $4,500 and a 1923 VAM-1E Broken Wing PCGS brought a record $9,500. There is no doubt about it, Peace dollar varieties have arrived “Center Stage.” Granted, it is almost impossible to cherry-pick a major Peace dollar variety. Moustaches, earrings, whisker cheeks, broken wings and extra hairs are easily identified because of their obvious “flaws.” But, did you know that there are 7 not so obvious Peace dollar Top 50 varieties that are worth ten times the value of its common brother? That is if a MS-63 is worth $25, this variety is worth at least $250. And better yet there are 4 that are worth 80 times the non-variety.
These 7 varieties are worth at least 10 times the non-variety. The 1922 VAM-4 Doubled Motto Doubled Die Obverse (DDO) shows minor doubling on the designer’s initials, the lower hair strands, TR of Trust and 2 of the date. Retail value in MS-64 is $400. The 1922 VAM-6 Doubled Leaves Doubled Die Reverse (DDR) shows significant doubling on the lower reverse on the leaves, stems, berries, back edges of the eagle’s tail feathers and lower rays. Retail value in MS-64 is $550. The 1922 VAM-7 Doubled Wing DDR shows strong doubling on the eagle’s shoulder and edge of the wing. Retail value in MS-64 is $400. The 1922 VAM-8 Doubled Tiara DDO shows separation at the tops of the rays under the B of Liberty and minor doubling on the nose and upper lip. Retail value in MS-64 is $400. The 1922-S VAM 3 Tripled Reverse is underrated and should bring considerably more than its current retail price of $450 in MS-63. The coins shows tripling on the eagle’s back tail feathers and rays above the mintmark. The 1923-D VAM-3 Doubled Eagle’s Head is another underrated DDR. It is doubled on top of the eagle’s head, but is easiest to pick up on the back edges of the tail feathers. Retail value in MS-63 is $1300. The 1923-S VAM-1C Pitted Reverse is the last of the varieties worth of ten times their non-variety brothers. This variety shows pitting around and below the N of one. Retail value is $1300 in 63.
This next list of 4 varieties is worth 20 times the non-variety. The 1922 VAM-5 Tripled Reverse is the reverse of the VAM-5A Scar Cheek before the fantastic obverse die break. Once the obverse die is replaced, the reverse die later breaks across the wing to form VAM-5B, another major variety. The tripling is evident on the lower edges of the olive leaves. Retail value in MS-64 is $700. The 1922-D VAM-3 Doubled Leaves is a DDR doubled on the lower edges of the olive leaves, branches and back edges of the eagle’s tail feathers. Retail Value is $1300 in MS-63. The 1922-D VAM-7 Tripled Lower Reverse is tripled on the lower leaves and branches similar to the 1922 VAM-5. It is very underrated and is valued at $1,400 in MS-63. The final variety worth twenty times its non-variety is the 1924 VAM-1A Bar D. It has a dramatic die gouge from the rim to the D of God. It is underrated and has a retail value in MS-62 of $650.
This final variety is the only non-major die break Top 50 worth up to 80 times the value of its common non-variety. It is what I have considered one of the two major coins in the set, the other being the 1923 VAM-1E. It is the 1922-D VAM-4. The VAM-4 shows obverse die doubling on the TR of Trust. It has a major pick-up point with a die gouge through the TA of states on the reverse. An obverse die crack connects the D of God to the T of Trust. This coin sold at the West Palm Beach coin auction for $3750 in a PCGS 62 holder.
A word to the wise, make sure your attribution is correct. There are many close double dies that resemble Top 50 varieties. Purchase a copy of the Top 50 book and match your prospective cherry-pick to the photos. The photos and die cracks should match exactly. If it doesn’t, then it probably is not the correct VAM.
Peace dollar varieties are bringing record prices. But it’s not always the major die breaks, such as the Whisker Cheek, Earring or Moustache that are breaking those records. Remember to look for the other varieties that can bring you a 10, 20, or 80 fold increase from your cherry-pick. Happy hunting…and Take Care!