1896-O VAM-30 (Privately made) Low Near Date
Discovery June 12, 2014, Brian Raines
30(Privately made) (Low Near Date) (181) R-6
Obverse - Date set low at left of lateral position, similar to genuine VAM 24. Rounded design where meets field, especially at Liberty head profile and date. Band of raised parallel lines at bottom of R in PLURIBUS, die scratch at inside 7th left star, and die scratch at right outside of 8 upper loop. Tiny black indents all over surface of impurities in melt.
Reverse - Correct C3 type and medium III O mint mark. Fine die crack at top of ERI in AMERICA. Raised casting lumps below DO_LL in DOLLAR and right star near denticles. Tiny black indents all over surface of impurities in melt. Neither obverse or reverse were related to current listed micro O counterfeits.
In June 2014, Brian Raines sent an 1896o in vf/xf condition that he stated had the rounded design characteristic of Micro O series counterfeits. It's appearance was a little unusual with obverse that flat cotton bolls but little peripheral wear and shiny fields. the reverse had a little wear with shiny fields. but the overall appearance to the naked eye was that of a genuine coin. When viewed with a 7x or 10x hand glass or a 10x or 30x microscope, the edge of the nose, lips chin and jaw was very rounded and shallow where it met the field. the date digits had rounded tops and partially filled openings plus the stars and lettering were somewhat rounded. Date position was near and low of the VAM 24 genuine die variety, which may possibly have been the host coin die variety copied. there was a band of raised parallel lines at the bottom of R in PLURIBUS, die scratch at inside of 7th left star, die scratch at right outside of 8 upper loop and faint raised lines thru E PLU. the most serious flaw however, were the tiny black indents all over the obverse. they were especially noticeable on the Liberty head. These must have been impurities in the silver alloy melt that has not been seen on genuine Morgan dollars.
The correct III O mint mark was slightly high with the normal C3 reverse type. there was somewhat rounded edges where the design met the fields. A fine die crack was at the top of ERI in AMERICA. There were some fin polishing lines at the wreath bow, a little unusual for micro O related counterfeits. A raised line went thru T in UNITED and raised lumps were below the right star, DO_ LL in DOLLAR near the denticles. the reverse also had shiny black indents all over and especially noticeable on the eagle.
The weight was 412 grains-within normal tolerance. It's diameter was 1.490-1.491 inches, similar to the 1896o VAMs 25_26 and some other 1900 o, 1901 o, and 1902 O counterfeits. the coin's ring was normal indicating about the correct metal composition. the edge reeding was normal a 181 with slide lines indicating a die struck coin.
The coin had the appearance of a genuine Morgan dollar with the correct weight, diameter, ring, and reeding count. a serious flaw was the tiny black indents on both the obverse and reverse, visible with a 10X loupe and especially with a 30X microscope, indicating impurities in the metal melt not seen on genuine coins. Both the obverse and reverse had slightly rounded design where the design met the fields, especially at Liberty head profile and date digits. The obverse had a low near date, the same as a genuine VAM 24. the reverse had the correct C3 type with a slightly high III o mint mark. die casting flaws of raised metal were below DO_LL in DOLLAR and below the right rear reverse star. Neither obverse not reverse die match currently listed die struck counterfeits of the Micro O series.
Brian Raines notes-this was the same coin formerly housed in the SEGS au holder that is on the VAM 30 page.