1881-S MM Position Guide Suggestion

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Mike7E
Posts: 114
Joined: Wed Jun 13, 2018 12:01 am

1881-S MM Position Guide Suggestion

Post by Mike7E » Thu May 26, 2022 9:20 pm

There are two 1881-S Morgan dollars that have been driving me crazy for years. Take them out, try to attribute from VAMWorld pictures, get frustrated, put them back in the bank. I posted one to no avail as there are quite a few known and undiscovered die pairs. The second will be posted soon as the study below indicates it is not listed yet. When thinking about the question of how to get more people involved in VAMs it became apparent that we need to reduce their frustration when looking through confusing descriptions like S/S left, S/S down and so on. These can help if the coin is an S/S but don’t help if the S is not doubled.

I have done a mini-study and find that the MM position can be a valuable tool in creating a quicker to us list of varieties that are closer to the coin in hand. That said, the user really needs to box the MM in question with lines. I know! Great pain! But that gives a more accurate description of the relative S position, which really helps to narrow the possible matches. There are still many ‘centered and upright’ entries but the number of those is reduced. The other variations of MM location will hopefully help narrow the search for VAMs. I will volunteer to set up the sort page with a little assistance if there is agreement that it would be helpful.

One challenge is that many listings don't have any pictures of the MM and I suspect that for some the obverse was obvious enough that the reverse automatically got a C3a tag of “centered and upright” without too close a look. I found that many ‘C3a reverses’ are slightly right, right, slightly left or left (I may be parsing this too much) in addition to high or low or tilted. So, do we eventually change the descriptions of those that are not ‘centered and upright’ or would that be too big a headache? Perhaps is it best for now to just add a new sub-sort list with each MM location as a subset of C3a for this group?

I have to emphasize that the current S/S catalog descriptions need to be clearly separated from the MM position descriptions. S/S high does not mean it is in a high position.
Many thanks to those that have added pictures to the pages to help in our searches. Pictures with box lines follow, I tried to retain the author’s naming as much as possible.

1881-S C3a Examples:
The description from the VAM-1 page: “Reverse C3a - Normal die of C3 type with a medium IV S mint mark centered and upright.”
I have found several variations of MM locations for the C3a reverse. Again do we reassign each reverse based on what we see or just create a sorting page with the variations listed?
MM Pos V3 1881-S VAM-3 rev PCGS 66+ (3a).jpg
MM Pos V3 1881-S VAM-3 rev PCGS 66+ (3a).jpg (129.79 KiB) Viewed 602 times
VAM-3 C3a Would be ‘Set Right and High’ - No description of reverse on page.
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MM Pos V72 Disc-1881svam72-mm-kam (2a).jpg
MM Pos V72 Disc-1881svam72-mm-kam (2a).jpg (289.64 KiB) Viewed 602 times
VAM-72 C3a Would be ‘Set Right and Slightly High’ - No description of reverse on page.
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MM Pos V1b 1881S_1b AW012619_Rev_LFCP (2a).jpg
MM Pos V1b 1881S_1b AW012619_Rev_LFCP (2a).jpg (252.89 KiB) Viewed 602 times
VAM-1b Would be Centered, High, Tilted left (S/S ??). Description from page: Reverse C3a– Large die chip on edge of eagle’s right wing just above wreath top.
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MM Pos V25 RKA_1881_S_25_mm_10.31.10 (3).jpg
MM Pos V25 RKA_1881_S_25_mm_10.31.10 (3).jpg (183.45 KiB) Viewed 602 times
VAM-25 C3a Would be ‘Centered and Low’ - No description of reverse on page.
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MM Pos V9 1881-S-RonH_VAM-9No 33-38-46_REV_07292013 (3).jpg
MM Pos V9 1881-S-RonH_VAM-9No 33-38-46_REV_07292013 (3).jpg (108.18 KiB) Viewed 602 times
VAM-9 C3a Would be ‘Set Left and High or Very High’ - No description of reverse on page.
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More examples in next post.

Mike7E
Posts: 114
Joined: Wed Jun 13, 2018 12:01 am

Re: 1881-S MM Position Guide Suggestion

Post by Mike7E » Thu May 26, 2022 9:29 pm

Other reverse MM location examples:
MM Pos V62 1881-S_VAM-62_mmark.jpg
MM Pos V62 1881-S_VAM-62_mmark.jpg (272.97 KiB) Viewed 601 times
VAM-62 C3w Would be ‘Set Slightly Right and High’ – Description from page “Reverse C3w - Slightly doubled left side left wreath leaves, bottom inside letters of UNITED STATES towards rim and tops of IN GOD WE TRUST.
Comment 2 “The C3w reverse description says nothing about it being high but VAMs 62 & 64 mintmark does in fact qualify for being slightly high.”
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MM Pos V73 GK-1881SV73DC-MM (2a).jpg
MM Pos V73 GK-1881SV73DC-MM (2a).jpg (169.81 KiB) Viewed 601 times
VAM-73 C3w Would be ‘Centered and Low’ – Description from page: “Reverse C3w - Slightly doubled left side left wreath leaves, bottom inside letters of UNITED STATES towards rim and tops of IN GOD WE TRUST.”
LVA Comment:
1. According to LVA “Has dbld left rev of VAM 44. A new die combo. Couldn’t find very good die markers.” Spike in left 8 only.
Page Comment: 2 “This coin is listed with the C3w reverse (same as VAMs 62 & 64) but it is not the same. The C3w reverse description says nothing about it being high but VAMs 62 & 64 mintmark does in fact qualify for being slightly high. The VAM-73 does not qualify for having a high mintmark (not even close...)”
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MM Pos V17 1881-S_VAM_17_Photo_2 (3).jpg
MM Pos V17 1881-S_VAM_17_Photo_2 (3).jpg (233.43 KiB) Viewed 601 times
VAM-17 C3h Would be ‘Set Right and High’ – Description from page “Reverse C3h - Mint mark is repunched with original showing as thin horizontal line in middle of upper loop and faint diagonal line at top inside of lower loop.” No mention of S position in description.
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MM Pos V15 Occ-lowcc-1881-s-v15-10-16-14a (4).jpg
MM Pos V15 Occ-lowcc-1881-s-v15-10-16-14a (4).jpg (89.45 KiB) Viewed 601 times
VAM-15 C3g (from Full Coin Picture) Would be ‘Set Far Right’. – Description from page: “Reverse C3g- Mint mark is repunched with original showing as a short spike at far left inside of upper loop opening.
Comments:
1. This reverse shared with VAM-14, VAM-14A, VAM-15, and VAM-34”
Note: Full coin picture crops and blowups sometimes make the S look large as in the case of the VAM-15 above. It is the furthest set right that I have seen so is the blow up reliable for this type of sorting? See VAM-14 & 14A below that are also C3g reverses that would be called ‘Set Right’.
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MM Pos V14 1881-S_VAM_14_Photo_1 (3).jpg
MM Pos V14 1881-S_VAM_14_Photo_1 (3).jpg (159.9 KiB) Viewed 601 times
VAM-14 Would be “Set Right” (note that strike doubling makes it look lower.) Description from the page: “Reverse C3g - Mint mark is repunched with original showing as a short spike at far left inside of upper loop opening.”
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Mike7E
Posts: 114
Joined: Wed Jun 13, 2018 12:01 am

Re: 1881-S MM Position Guide Suggestion

Post by Mike7E » Thu May 26, 2022 9:38 pm

MM Pos V14A 1881_S_PCIMS62_BHJ_S333 (2a).jpg
MM Pos V14A 1881_S_PCIMS62_BHJ_S333 (2a).jpg (159.79 KiB) Viewed 601 times
VAM-14A Would be “Set Right” Description from the page: Reverse C3g - S/S Far Left with some raised dots above D in DOLLAR up to wreath from rusted die.
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The picture below of VAM-34 MM shows it is not the same as VAM-14, 14A & 15.
MM Pos V34 1881-S_VAM_34_Photo_2 (3a).jpg
MM Pos V34 1881-S_VAM_34_Photo_2 (3a).jpg (123.57 KiB) Viewed 601 times
VAM-34 Would be ‘Set Slightly Right and Slightly High’ Not the same spike marks in the S or location as VAM-14, 14A and 15. Description from the page in “Comments:1. This reverse shared with VAM-14 , VAM-14A, VAM-15, and VAM-34.”
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I also had issues with the descriptions on several pages with some having an inaccurate “exact reverse shared” statement. I will create additional posts to discuss the issue so that the pages could be updated if we agree
• VAMs 33 and 46 appear to be close but VAM-38 is different (upper inside of serif differs and polishing lines in S don’t match. MM position is the same for all three so as long as not marked exact same reverse this works
• VAM-5 states also VAM-37 which it does not match. VAM-6 & VAM-10 need to be added to the VAM-5 page also.
• VAM-37 states “This exact reverse shared with VAM-5.” Which it is not the case.
• VAM-57 is a “Reverse C3p- Medium mint mark centered and tilted slightly left” the page also states “This reverse shared with VAM-37, VAM-42, VAM-44, VAM-51, VAM-57, and VAM-67” Looking at those that have MM pics the statement needs to be modified to ‘reverse type’. VAM-67 is an example that has smoother more full arc top inside right, and is not the same as VAM-37.
• VAM-28, VAM-40 description “Reverse C3m - IV S mint mark set high…”. Pictures of VAM-28 on page 40 are centered and not high.

Below is a description of a method to more consistently draw the lines needed. I hope to get feedback with agreement and constructive criticism so that a new sort page can be created.
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Best results were obtained from close ups where both the full D and O were visible along with the lower edges of the wreath ribbon. As the D and O get cut off the quality of the lines drawn from them can suffer.

Find a picture that has a close up of the MM area if possible. Larger pictures can be cropped down but might show some distortion.
Open the pic in a program like Paint. Crop the pic so that the left and right tips of the wreath ribbon are just visible and about half the knot shows. Crop up from the bottom so most denticles are out of the picture but a full D and O are visible. Save a copy.

Open the copy in a program like Paint. Resize the copy to about 820 units across the top (or about ¾ across the screen depending on resolution setting). The resize percentage will vary considerably from 150 to 500 x depending on how close the original picture is of the MM area. Use undo each time you don’t like the outcome and enter your next estimated percent multiplier.

Select the straight line from ‘Shapes’. Select the thinnest line from the drop-down ‘Size’ list. Next select the best color for the lines. I used red most of the time but had one reddish MM area that black lines were easier to see in the picture.

First draw a horizontal line from the bottom edge of one wreath ribbon to the other. Sometimes there is a ghost edge (surface doubling or a scraping mark from the minting process) under the ribbons that is usually ignored. The line should be drawn past each low spot and each end adjusted separately so it just touches the bottom of the wreath. Next draw another horizontal line from the highest point of the D to the highest point of the O. These two lines are a little off from being parallel. Drop down to the inside right edge of the D and draw a line up to the wreath. Adjust so it follows the line of the D. This line will normally touch the wreath near or just to the left of the low point. Next go to the inside left edge of the O and draw a line up to the wreath. This one has more of a slant and is sometimes harder to judge if its running true. It will normally intersect the wreath where it is going up. Draw a line from the center of the midpoint of the D to the wreath making sure it is parallel to the first line. Repeat for the O.

Save as a .jpg with a new name so it can be picked up quicker in a list. I used MM Pos VAM-xx to save mine.

Determine the MM position based on the lines around it. Is it centered and upright, or set left or right or ‘centered, slightly high, tilted right’ as shown in the example below that also has a ghost edge.
MM Pos shiny A079 - 20220304_152658 (2).jpg
MM Pos shiny A079 - 20220304_152658 (2).jpg (248.05 KiB) Viewed 601 times
Centered slightly high tilted right. (Strike doubling under wreath and letters.)


Reverse summary of MM locations, pictures used were from VAMWorld 2.0 site. Most were from pictures that were good to draw lines on, but a few were from Full Coin Pictures and others from partial pictures that are not necessarily as exact:
Centered 8
Centered High 20 (1 About high, 1 Very High, 4 Tilted Left, 2 Tilted Right)
Centered Low 5
Centered Tilted Right 4
Centered Tilted Left 1
Set Slightly Right 9 (2 About High, 2 High, 1 Slightly Low, 1 Low, 2 Tilted Right)
Set Right 12 (8 High, 2 Low, 5 Tilted Right, 2 Tilted Left)
Set Far Right 4 (1 High, 3 Low)
Set Slightly Left 1 Low
Set Left 5 (2 Slightly High, 1 High, 1 Low, 2 Tilted Right)

blh74
Posts: 745
Joined: Wed May 30, 2018 1:28 am

Re: 1881-S MM Position Guide Suggestion

Post by blh74 » Fri May 27, 2022 3:15 am

I like your idea. Now I am not sure how I ever attributed over 35 vams?

keilg1
Posts: 269
Joined: Fri Feb 08, 2019 4:36 pm
Location: Nottingham, UK

Re: 1881-S MM Position Guide Suggestion

Post by keilg1 » Fri May 27, 2022 9:24 am

Wow. What a tremendous amount of work!

Any way to better objectify a rather subjective process is to be encouraged. I'm for better standardizing whatever we can because I've struggled with mint mark placements, date placements and more!

Looking forward to hearing what more experienced voices have to say.

Gary

RogerB
Posts: 807
Joined: Mon Nov 04, 2019 2:30 pm

Re: 1881-S MM Position Guide Suggestion

Post by RogerB » Sat May 28, 2022 3:19 pm

If you establish lines connecting two points internal to the portrait (or eagle), then extend these, you will have stable references for everything. This approach eliminates all variables in relative position and is very simple to use. It is accurate enough to make repeatable measurements between reference lines and mintmarks, dates, inscriptions, including transpositions from clashes.

I've recommended this multiple times but the "VAM Authorities" seem to prefer instability and confusion.

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