1888-P VAM-26 Cotton Gouge
Discovered by Jeff Oxman, February 2000.
Eliminated, now VAM-16A.
COMMENTS: Update July 2006: VAM-26 has been eliminated and is now VAM-16A. Van Allen says VAM-26 is "possibly the same as VAM-16 because of weak doubling below the serif of 1. So made VAM-26 new VAM-16A with gouges." Also note obverse "small die gouge in hair below designer's initial M," which Van Allen does not believe to be an MPD. I-2, R-5.
The VAM-26, discovered by Jeff Oxman in February 2000, is easily identified by its broad die gouge through the lower cotton boll on the obverse. The date is only slightly left of normal with doubling evident on the tops of all three eights.
The C3f reverse exhibits doubling on the lower part. This reverse was shared with VAM-16 but VAM-26 is not a later state of VAM-16 as the obverse is clearly different. The obverse here has not been located without the gouge. For some reason, VAM-16 and VAM-26 were not admitted to the Hot-50 with the other DDR varieties.
The author has three VAM-26 NGC MS66 and has passed on several gems and near gems. There is undoubtedly at least one MS67 out there to be found. The condition census likely includes MS67 and MS66. Leroy Van Allen's R-6 assessment is still probably consistent with reality on this one. The VAM book lists R-6 for Morgan and Peace dollars as meaning hundreds of examples. There are likely a few hundred of these in all grades, based on observations, with dozens of gems and better.