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The 1880-O Overdate Die State Varieties

One of the cutting-edge areas of Morgan dollar variety specialization is collecting by sub-variety. It’s not something that appeals to everyone, but the sub-varieties of the major VAM sets can be quite challenging. For instance, the 1880-O Overdates presently consist of VAMs 4, 5, 6, 6A, 6B, 6C 16, 17, 21, 25 and 55. But few collectors, up to this point, have looked at the die state sub-varieties with an eye toward putting together a set based on when a variety was struck in the life of the die.

We're currently doing research in such die state varieties in order to ultimately list them separately on the VAMLINK Set Registry. Here are our initial notes:

VAM 4………….EDS (PL or DMPL)
VAM 4………….Non PL
VAM 5………….EDS (PL or DMPL)
VAM 5………….Non PL
VAM 6………….1 Clash on Obv
VAM 6A………..No Clashes
VAM 6A………..1 Clash
VAM 6B………..1 Clash Obv/O Clash Rev
VAM 6C………..2 Clashes Obv/1 Clash Rev
VAM 16………...No Clashes
VAM 17………...No Clashes
VAM 17………...1 Clash
VAM 21………...No Clash Obv/1 Clash Rev
VAM 25………...No Clashes
VAM 55………...1 Clash Obv/No Clashes Rev

It might also be mentioned that one potential use of such research is determining the striking sequence of related varieties. As most of our readers know, VAMs 6, 6A, 6B, 6C and 25 all share the same "Ear Overdate" obverse die. Therefore, an obverse with no evidence of clashing would presumably have been struck before a die pair with one clash mark. And so on.

In the case of the VAM 6 sequence, a preliminary look would indicate that the VAM 25 came first (no clashing), and was followed by VAM 6A (no clashing on some specimens and one clash on others). Dies for VAMs 6 and 6B all show one clash, so they were next. And last was the VAM 6C with its three obverse clashes and one reverse clash.

Die stage information can also be useful for attribution purposess. If it’s true that all currently known VAM 16's show no clashing, then it stands to reason that any coin showing obverse clashing is either a die stage of the VAM 16 that's not presently listed or it's not the VAM 16 at all. This would lead the informed collector to consider other possibilities, such as the new disocvery VAM 55, which IS known with an obverse clash.

As is the case with any new area of variety collecting, die sequences may sound too exotic for mainstream hobbyists. But remember, that is exactly what was said about VAM collecting, itself, twenty years ago!

Article written by Jeff Oxman. Last Updated: January 2006 ... All rights Reserved