Guidelines for Die Varieties

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By Leroy Van Allen

  • Die doubling on the devices, letters stars and date digits have to be readily visible using a 7X or 10X hand magnifying glass that the average collector uses at coin shows and shops when searching for die varieties. A 20X or 30X stereo microscope is useful to check die doubling but not reason enough to list doubling unless visible with hand magnifying glass.Die
  • Slight die doubling on a few obverse stars or a few reverse wreath leaves are generally too minor to list by themselves as they are fairly common. Doubling has to be on all left or right stars to list or on most of left or right wreath leaf clusters to list.
  • Die chips, breaks, scratches & gouges have to be readily visible to the naked eye to list. Tiny die chips are very common as dies wore out from use. Likewise, die breaks to be listed have to wide & high chunks out of the die and visible to the naked eye and not just thin shallow die cracks. Thin, shallow die cracks are extremely common as dies wore out & we don't list them.
  • Scratches are fairly thin and high lines while gouges are wide and high bars. They have to be long enough to be readily visible to the naked eye.
  • Scratches and gouges in the denticles are generally not listed because they are well hidden and not visible to the naked eye.
  • Denticles, date and stars that have shiny edges that have been pushed in and indented occur when the coin was struck and then pushed out of the collar, or die slid sideways during striking of a coin. A striking error that we don't list - we only list die varieties.
  • Flat, shiny, top doubling on edges of obverse or reverse motto or legend letters or date and stars is from machine doubling. It occurs when there is looseness in the coin press mechanism and dies bounce slightly during the striking of the coin. It is most common on the reverse for the Morgan dollar and on the obverse for the Peace dollar. Machine doubling tends to reduce the original design. Die doubling has dull, rounded surfaces. It enlarges the original design. Machine doubling isn't listed since it isn't a die variety.
  • Tiny thin, short raised lines on the device not visible to the naked eye aren't something listed separately. They might be useful as a die marker however, if needed.
  • Fine thin polishing lines in Liberty's head, on the eagle, or wreaths are extremely common on Morgan dollars and are generally not visible to the naked eye. Therefore, they aren't something that is listed. Only list those that are unusually heavy & thick. Sometimes used as die markers however.
  • Polishing lines have to be over much of the fields and visible to the naked eye or extremely bold in the device to list. Isolated die polishing lines in fields aren't listed as die varieties by themselves. Can be used as die markers if needed.
  • Polishing roughness in wreath bow & leaves is also very common and generally not visible to the naked eye as they are well hidden. So it isn't listed. Polishing roughness can occur around the legend letters causing a rough outline and parts of the letters that don't follow the letters exactly. It isn't die doubling, which follows the letter shape exactly. Generally, the polishing roughness around the letters is not listed unless it is very severe.
  • Rim cud die breaks that don't extend through the denticles into the field aren't listed. Retained cuds can be listed and are formed when a die crack extends rim to rim with some displacement of the field.
  • A displaced field die break can be listed if a die crack has the adjacent field raised or tilted to form a different angle of the flat field visible to the naked eye.
  • Missing design elements can be listed from over polishing if visible to the naked eye.
  • Common die clash marks that aren't letters aren't listed (clash marks with no letter transfer). Only clashed letters on obverse and reverse are listed. An exception is on Peace dollars that can have a clashed spike up from the eagles' right shoulder from the obverse back of Liberty's head and neck. Shorter single spikes aren't listed unless they are long enough to reach UN. Double and triple clashed spikes are listed.


Updated March 1, 2018

Unfortunately double whammy circumstances have forced me to not accept coin submittals from Mar 1, 2018 until further notice & Peace & Morgan Suppl are finished & mailed, likely couple months. Coin packages rcvd during this period will be returned unopened via first class mail, as can't just store packages.
As you may know, wife, Marilyn, fell & broke rt hip on 15 Dec resulting in 5 days in hospital & 29 days in re-hab. Is slowly getting better & stronger but still has to use walker. Extra home care limits my time for coin examination since have assumed most household responsibilities, nursing, & weekly visits to wound clinic for several bedsores in nearby town. She much appreciated all the get well cards which greatly lifted her spirits!
Further, nearby lightening strike summer 2017 destroyed 2007 computer motherboard. Got new computer & 2016 MS Word program. Unfortunately, 2016 Peace & Morgan Suppl had been prepared using 2003 Corel Word Perfect & 2007 MS Word. The 2016 MS Word reading of 2016 Suppl text resulted in distortions of some symbols in over thousand Peace & several thousand Morgan coin listings which is taking extra time to correct, in addition to adding normal yearly updates.

Will notify when can resume normal accepting coin submittal-- sorry for extended delay in 2017 VAM Suppl this yr!


Updated December 8, 2017

Effective January 1, 2018, the fee for the first three coins is a flat $15, with additional coins being $5 each. No more than 10 coins per submitter per month will be accepted for any reason. Return postage and insurance is still required as under the previous submission guidelines.

Updated January 15, 2009

It is highly recommended that potential new varieties be vetted through the VAMWorld discussion board before submission to Leroy Van Allen. This process will make Leroy's task much easier and will save everyone time and money in the process. Following is an update to Leroy's submission policy that was mailed out on January 15, 2009.

It is with some regret that there is a change of policy for submitting coins for examination.

After over 40 yrs of not charging a fee for examination of possible new varieties, it is changed to $5 per coin effective 1 Feb 2009. Many of you have already been sending that equivalent amount for a number of years, which I thank you.

A low percentage of the coins submitted in recent years have been new varieties. New varieties listed for 2008 were less than 2007 which was less than 2006. Most coins have been known varieties or had features pointed out that were too minor to list. It takes longer to actually prepare a new listing with a description & photos to be made than to attribute known varieties. Those submitting a new variety will still receive the description & photos(s). The examination fee will be $5 per coin for any coin submitted no matter if it turns out to be a known variety, features too minor to list or a new variety. Return postage is still also required. A limit is requested of a maximum of 10 coins per package or in one month, unless special permission is granted for a larger submittal, so as to not delay too much the examination of other packages.

Thanks for your understanding.

Leroy Van Allen
PO Box 196
Sidney, OH 45365
Updated August 26, 2008