The actual, exact coin that was first noticed and recognized as being a new variety.
The discovery coin is usually, but not always, the specific coin that Leroy Van Allen examined to make the determination of a new VAM number. If so, images of the variety features of the discovery coin will possibly appear in future VAM publications, including the Comprehensive Catalog and Encyclopedia of Morgan & Peace Dollars. Thus, a discovery coin has a touch of celebrity attached to it.
ANACS, SEGS, VARslab, and perhaps other services (check with them) will certify discovery coins. Please note that you typically have to supply information to help verify that the coin submitted is the actual discovery coin. As of this posting, ANACS will only certify Van Allen's plate coin (the one in the photographs for future VAM publications) as the discovery coin.
A discovery coin certified by VARslab:
A discovery coin ("Discovery Piece") certified by ANACS:
Please click this link for the full VAMworld.com definitions page.