How to Identify VAM Morgan Silver Dollars

Certain coins were produced in ways that differ from standards, and their rarity on the market boosts their value. Among them is the VAM silver dollar, whose scarcity makes it valuable among collectors. 

History of the VAM Silver Dollar

The front and back of a 1895 P Morgan Silver Dollar

VAMs are Peace or Morgan silver dollars with a unique die variety that was identified in a book called The Comprehensive Catalog and Encyclopedia of Morgan and Peace Dollars. The catalog was published by Leroy C. Van Allen and A. George Mallis, who combined the initials of their last names to produce the moniker VAM. The researchers noted differences between coins that were produced in the same year and at the same mint, which allowed them to identify differences in die varieties in the Morgan and Peace silver dollar series. Some of these differences were so minute that they required a microscope to view. 

Identifying a VAM Silver Dollar

Identifying a VAM among silver coins can be tricky, as the differences between them and standard silver dollars are minute. Most differences must be observed through a loupe with 15x magnification. The details on the wings and tail feather of the eagle on the reverse are over-polished, as well as the hair, nostril, and eye detail on the face. There are also numerous doubled letters on the coin, including the entirety of the world “liberty,” and the stars are doubled as well. In some cases, obverse or reverse clashing can be observed on the coin. This occurs when the obverse and reverse dies strike each other without a planchet between them. The planchet is a raw piece of metal in the shape of a coin, which becomes a coin once it’s struck by the dies. 

Collecting VAMs

Because of the rarity of VAMs, many coin collectors try to incorporate as many VAM die varieties as possible into their collection by searching, trading, or purchasing coins. These can be cataloged at the VAM World Website, which is dedicated to collecting and sharing information and photographs about VAM silver dollars.

VAMs are one example of the way that a rare die or unique strike can add to the value of coins. If you believe you have a VAM silver dollar or any other rarity you’d like to sell, request an appointment with Atlanta Gold & Coin Buyers to learn about our appraisals by calling us at 404-236-9744 today.

Tony Davis is the owner of Atlanta Gold & Coin Buyers, a full service Atlanta based coin and bullion dealer specializing in buying, selling and appraising coins and coin collections of all types and sizes. Tony frequently writes on various economic and numismatic related topics affecting the coin and bullion markets and has been published on some of the industry’s leading websites, including Coin Week, the American Numismatic Association, Coin Collector, Coinflation and Coin Auctions Help, just to name a few. Visit Atlanta Gold & Coin’s website at http://atlantagoldandcoin.com to obtain additional information on the products, services and educational resources offered by his company. Tony can be reached at sales@atlantagoldandcoin.com or at 404-236-9744. Be sure to "like" Atlanta Gold & Coin Buyers on Facebook , follow them on Twitter, or subscribe to their RSS feed to receive the latest news, tips and expert advice on old, rare, collectible and bullion coins.