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SSDC Awards

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The SSDC gives awards at the annual VAM Thing to recognize members of the VAM collecting hobby for their achievements and contributions to the hobby. These awards were first given out at VAM Thing I in 2004. A list of award recipients by category is below

VAM Master

The VAM Master award is the SSDC's equivalent of a lifetime achievement award. This award has been given to those people in recognition of major or pioneering contributions to the hobby. Most recipients have been involved with VAM research and collecting for decades.

2004 — Leroy Van Allen

2005 — Jeff Oxman

2006 — Michael Fey

2007 — Bill Fivaz

If you’ve been to more than one major coin show over the past fifty years, there’s a good chance you’ve met Bill Fivaz. He’s been a frequent educational presenter for decades and one of the most noteworthy and respected numismatic authors spanning three generations of collectors. His awards are too numerous to list with anything resembling brevity, but some highlights include the American Numismatic Association’s Farran Zerbe Memorial Award as well as induction in the ANA’s Hall of Fame, the National Silver Dollar Roundtable’s Lifetime Achievement Award, the Numismatic Literary Guild’s highest honor – the Clemy Award, and he was inducted into the CONECA Hall of Fame in 1988.

Fivaz is best known as the co-author of the Cherrypickers’ Guide to Rare Die Varieites of United States Coins. This work is ongoing with an expanded section on Morgan and Peace Dollar varieties contained in the upcoming Volume II of the 6th edition of this landmark publication. He is also an accomplished coin photographer contributing most or all of the illustrations to four well known Society of Silver Dollar Collectors guides; the SSDC Official Guide to the Hot 50 Morgan Dollar Varieties, The Official Guide to the Top 50 Peace Dollar Varieties, 1878 Morgan Dollar 8-TF Attribution Guide, and The 1878 Morgan Dollar 7/8-TF Attribution Guide.

Perhaps his most significant contribution to the field of VAM collecting is now largely unknown. In the 1970’s, Fivaz was a regular columnist for Errorscope, a publication by the Numismatic Error Collectors of America – one of the two organizations that later merged to form CONECA. Beginning in 1974, he authored a series of monthly columns on VAMs. The following year he formed the VAM club-within-a-club. This small group was the first in this field. It can be viewed as a precursor to both the SSDC and VAMworld. Fivaz’ work was pioneering, and his efforts are ongoing, placing some of the most noteworthy VAMs in front of the larger numismatic community. He was a natural choice for the SSDC’s highest honor in 2007 when he was presented with the VAM Master Award. -- JR

2008 — Lloyd Gabbert

Lloyd Gabbert's passion for coins developed rather late in life, born out of a financial setback in his professional life. The longtime owner of a large wholesale lumber firm that bore his name, Lloyd was for several years the single largest lumber futures trader at the Chicago Board of Trade. The sudden onset of recession in the U.S. economy in the early 1980s, however, caused lumber prices to collapse, leaving him with purchase commitments that wiped out his net worth and then some. Rather than declare bankruptcy and abandon those debts, he worked for years to not only pay back each one, but also see his company flourish anew.

This experience made him vow to never invest in commodities or stocks again. Instead, he developed a passion for silver dollars. His "California 1" sets of Morgan and Peace dollars are both Hall-of-Fame sets on the PCGS registry, with the Peace dollar set still retaining the #1 spot as of this writing 5 years after his death. At one time, he had many secondary Morgan and Peace dollar sets earning Top 10 rankings.

For more than a decade, Lloyd’s collecting efforts focused intently on VAMs, especially Morgans, which he pursued with tremendous enthusiasm. The most daunting of all PCGS Morgan Registry sets (at the time), the staggering 304-coin VAM “Super Set” reflected this enthusiasm perhaps best of all. The star of his VAM holdings is undoubtedly the mind-boggling 1878 8TF VAM 14.11 “Wild Eye Spikes” in PCGS MS67.

Lloyd was a passionate fan of the American Numismatic Association’s annual summer grading class. Even though he attended many years in a row, he would always return from each one looking forward to the next class so he could learn even more. His friends included people from all corners of the numismatic world, ranging from Who’s Who luminaries to the most modest collectors. He treated everyone with the same gracious, kind demeanor. Many collectors today buy and hold coins with the "California" pedigree, knowing they came from one of the true giants in VAM collecting. -- DH/JB

2010 — Herb Zepke

2011 — Logan McKechnie

C. Logan McKechnie is a man of several extraordinary talents.

As a teenage he was part of the Amarillo, Texas, newspaper reporting staff that won the 1961 Pulitzer Prize for Public Service. After serving in the U.S. Army he became an award-winning reporter and TV anchor in Arizona and California, which he gave up in 1972 to become a trial lawyer. He has operated his own private law practice in California for 25 years.

His passion for coins began in the 1950s and he quickly learned he had an extraordinary ability to notice and remember details about them. He got back into coins as an adult in 1982 by buying a coin store in San Diego, California. But it was publication of the Top 100 VAMs Pocket Guide in 1996, and meeting co-author Jeff Oxman, that turned him into a voracious VAMmer.

Before long, he was perhaps the largest dealer of Morgan dollar VAMs on the west coast, inspecting and purchasing several thousand coins per year. His astounding ability to almost immediately recognize hundreds of different known VAMs on sight helped him cherrypick every coin on the Top 100 list and make over 250 new discoveries. His “VAMs and More” business was a regular fixture at west coast coin shows, providing a “home base” for many collectors at a large table at the Long Beach shows for several years.

He also co-founded and co-authored VAMView Quarterly from 2005-09 and published The View newsletter from 2012-15, putting informative articles about VAMs into the hands of many collectors. He also headed the thankless task of producing the VAMView Retail Price Guide from 2005-14, many copies of which were donated to SSDC members.

McKechnie retired as a dealer and left the hobby in 2016. He continues to practice law full time in Merced, California. -- DH


2012 — Mike Faraone

Numismatics was a second career for Mike Faraone. He retired from the Air Force as a Lt. Colonel and served as a Commander. A long-time collector, Faraone joined the ANACS staff in 1994 as a grader and worked both grading and attributing coins for over a decade. In 2004, he was recruited by PCGS to spearhead their entry into the VAM market. He was a senior grader, lead attributor, and lead counterfeit detection expert for 12 years. The successful launch of the PCGS VAM Registry lead directly to a strong upswing in the market. This would not have been plausible without reliably attributed dollars, the fruit of Faraone’s labor.

He is a long-time member and past president of the National Silver Dollar Roundtable (NSDR). The NSDR has presented him with their two highest honors – Man of the Year in 1993 and the Lifetime Achievement Award in 2006. Additionally, he’s been recognized with the President’s Award on three separate occasions. Faraone was the editor of the NSDR Journal for over 20 years. He’s been a speaker for numerous educational presentations, and is a regular grading instructor at the ANA's Summer Seminar. Although now technically retired, he’s still involved in numismatics both as a speaker and as a dealer operating as Mike Faraone Rare Coins. If you run across him at a show, you’ll likely find him in conversation with another VAM collector – the other party listening intently. -- JR

2014 — Pete Bishal (posthumous)

2015 — A. George Mallis (posthumous)

2016 — Larry Briggs

2017 — Ash Harrison

2018 — John Baumgart

2019 — Brian Raines

2020 — David Close

Terry Armstrong Memorial Award

Terry Armstrong was a numismatist and VAM collector always interested in serving other collectors and collecting organizations. The Terry Armstrong Memorial Award was established to recognize outstanding service to the VAM collecting hobby.

2004 John Baumgart
2005 Rob Joyce
2006 Ash Harrison
2007 Phil Perdue
2008 Crae Morton
2009 John Roberts
2010 Mike Andrew
2011 Alan Scott
2012 John Coxe
2013 David Close
2014 Dennis Halladay
2015 Eric Justice
2016 Ken Margeson
2017 Brian Raines
2018 Dan Carr
2020 Pete Burchfield

A. George Mallis Outstanding Article

In 2010, an award recognizing an outstanding article written within the past year related to silver dollars or VAM collecting was established, named after VAM book co-author A. George Mallis

2010 Alan Scott 1886-O VAM 11/11A VAM-e
2011 Leroy Van Allen The Case of the 9 Tailfeathers VAM-e
2012 Paul Gilkes 1878 VAM 85 and 86 Discoveries Coin World
2013 Dan Carr 1964-D Peace Dollar Project VAM-e
2014 John Coxe Morgan Relative Rotations The View
2015 Nick Capuano 1888-O VAM 12 and 12A VAM-e
2016 John Dannreuther Evolution of the Peace Dollar The Numismatist
2017 Charles Morgan Talking Morgan Dollar with Leroy Van Allen CoinWeek
2018 Leroy Van Allen 1882-O/S Morgan Dollar: New Supporting Evidence VAM-e
2019 Leroy Van Allen Crazy 1879-O VAM 4-O/O/O Horizontal VAM-e
2020 Dennis Halladay 1895-S VAM Date Set Experiences VAM-e

A. George Mallis Outstanding Book

In 2010, an award recognizing an outstanding book written within the past three years related to silver dollars or VAM collecting was established, named after VAM book co-author A. George Mallis

2010 John Roberts 1878-CC Attribution Guide
2011 Mark Witkower 1878 Rev of 79 Attribution Guide
2012 Selby Ungar, Jeff Oxman, Adam Crum Carson City Morgan Dollars (Whitman)
2013 Leroy Van Allen Wonders of Morgan Dollars and Wonders of Peace Dollars
2014 Karen Lee The Private Sketchbook of George T. Morgan
2015 Robert Franklin WOW! An Introduction To Sixty Of The Most Fascinating Morgan Dollar Die Varieties Currently Known
2016 Roger Burdette From Mine to Mint
2017 Q. David Bowers A Guide Book of Morgan Silver Dollars (Whitman)
2018 John Highfill The Comprehensive US Silver Dollar Encyclopedia, 2017 Edition
2020 Dick Osburn, Brian Cushing A Register of Liberty Seated Dollar Varieties