Guidelines for Die Varieties

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Effective January 1, 2022, Leroy Van Allen is no longer accepting coins to be submitted for inclusion as new varieties. This has been taken over by John Baumgart and John Roberts for Morgan Dollars, and by David Close for Peace Dollars. There are some differences between Morgan and Peace dollars with respect to what is eligible to be included as a new variety in the VAM Catalog. Detailed descriptions for each type are below.

Morgan Dollars

What is Eligible

Any feature that is to be eligible for inclusion must be visible with a 10-14x hand-held loupe. While high magnification microscopes are useful for inspection and study, a loupe is the tool of choice for examining coins in the field.

Morgan dollars eligible for inclusion in the VAM Catalog are those that contain any of the following features:

Doubled Working Die: Doubling in the working die (not the working hub or master die) needs to be strong enough to be visible on a coin that is lightly circulated. Many 1921 Morgan dollars have very light doubling and tripling on some obverse stars that is considered too minor to list. Many C3 and C4 Morgan dollar reverse have minor doubling on the wreath leaves that is in the hub, and is not a result of sinking the working die.

Repunched Date or Mint Mark: Repunching of the date or mint mark must also be visible with a 10-14x loupe. While some 1921 Morgans have doubling and tripling on the date, these are doubled dies, as the date was in the hub, not applied with a date punch.

Die Gouges: These must be strong and clear of the denticles to be listed. Minor gouges and die scratches are typically noted as die markers useful for confirming an attribution. These will be noted in descriptions but are not themselves grounds for adding to the Catalog.

Die Breaks: These are defined as being a break in the die that is wide enough that a piece of the die is missing, or it is obvious that there is a displacement (tilt) in the field as a result of a broken piece of the die being loose and at a different angle from the rest of the die. Thin die cracks are common and will not be considered for listing except for some radial die cracks, which are not as common. Isolated small die chips are not listed, as they are also quite common. Late die state wear on peripheral die cracks can give the appearance of a displaced field break, but as they are simply a result of die wear, they will not be listed.

Clash Marks: Clashing is rather common on Morgan dollars, and will only be considered if lettering (LIBERTY, IGWT, mint mark, peripheral lettering) is transferred from one side of the coin to the other and is easily photographed for documentation. Collar clashes will only be considered if sufficiently strong.

Die Polishing: This must be a large patch of heavy die polishing lines, indicating an unusually vigorous polishing of the die, and must be easily visible without magnification. Die polishing heavy enough to remove significant design detail without showing heavy patches of lines will also be considered.

Rim Cuds: This must be sufficiently large to extend past the denticles into the field to be included. Minor rim cuds are fairly common and can be used as additional die markers but disappear on grades below XF.

1921 Scribble Scratches: Unique to 1921, these must be clear enough to be photographed and used to identify other specimens from the same die.

What is Not Eligible

Mechanical Doubling (also called Shelf, Machine, or Strike doubling) is an artifact of the striking process and not a feature of the die and is therefore not eligible for inclusion.

Planchet Flaws, such as laminations, impurity inclusions, and clipped planchets.

Striking Errors, such as a grease-filled die, strike-thru, misaligned die, partial collar, and rotated dies are not listed. Die rotation will be noted for the specific VAM that the dies define.

Any feature that is otherwise eligible but is not easily seen due to heavy wear, damage, or dark surfaces. All features to be included must be able to be photographed and the photographs be usable by others for attribution.

Listing Die Stages

Any coin submitted to divide an existing listing into multiple die stages must include coins showing all applicable die stages or photographic proof that the new die stage is distinct from those that have already been cataloged.

Peace Dollars

Guidelines are essentially the same as those for Morgan dollars, although there are a few minor differences.

What Is Eligible

Guidelines are the same as those for Morgan dollars with the following differences, updated May 31, 2022:

Clash Marks: Clashing is very common on Peace dollars. The only clashes that will be considered are those showing lettering transferred from one side to the other (e.g., the E from WE showing in the field left of the eagle or a partial N from UNUM showing behind Liberty's neck) or a spike on the eagle's should that is either doubled or extends past the rays or into the lettering. Please do not submit 1922-P at this time.

Rim Cuds: Must extend into the field, be at least 3 mm in length, and be clearly visible. Rim cuds that do not extend in the field are vulnerable to disappearing with wear and will not be listed.

Collar Clashes: Must be strong enough to be clearly visible to the naked eye and form an arc of at least 60° of the rim.

Die Breaks: Must be easy to demonstrate displacement with a photograph, and not just die wear.

Polished/Overpolished Dies: Must have a feature in the design missing (e.g., separated front ray of tiara, missing dot in motto, etc.), or in some other way be dramatic and easy to distinguish from similar varieties.

Doubled Dies: Please refrain from submitting these at this time.

Submitting Coins

Before submitting any coin, it is recommended that photos of the new feature be posted to VAMWorld discussion board for review by other collectors. This can save much time and expense that would be incurred in submitting a coin that is not considered listable in the Catalog.

All coins that are submitted need to have a description of what the feature is that should be added to the Catalog.

Morgan dollars are submitted by sending to either Variety Slabbing Service (VSS) or to ANACS with Variety Attribution Research, along with respective fees for attribution, shipping, handling, and return insurance. Coins that are found to be new varieties will be added to the Catalog without further action needed by the submitter.

Peace dollars are handled by David Close. Before shipping a coin, send a photo in an email to Peace dollars submitted to ANACS or VSS that need to be examined as possible new varieties will be returned with a letter describing the possible new variety so the coins can be submitted to David Close. Fees for Peace dollars are the same as those charged by VSS.

Correcting or Eliminating VAMs

Correcting or eliminating a VAM will be handled in a similar manner as NFL challenge calls. There must be clear evidence that the correction or elimination is warranted, or the catalog entry will remain as it is. This evidence may be the coins themselves or clear photos that demonstrate what should be changed. When a VAM is eliminated as a duplicate of another, the VAM that contains the most complete description containing the key feature of the coin will be retained. If there isn't a good description, the earliest listed VAM will be retained.

Temporary Submission Restrictions

There may be restrictions on submissions of potential new varieties from time to time. These will be updated here as appropriate.

  • Do not submit 1922 or 1923 Peace dollars until July 2022
  • Do not submit Peace dollar doubled dies at this time