Obverse Die 10
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1881 The Mint & NO
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Die 10 appears only once and is paired with reverse die a to create VAM 18. Like others where the die gouge in DO or DOL in DOLLAR appears, that deviation tends to supersede the recognition of the obverse.
This also tends to happen when the obverse die characteristics are not unusual. On die 10 the first 1 is doubled under the left serif or flag. The first 8 is doubled on the upper inside of lower loop and has the familiar short spike in the upper loop of the first 8 at about 11 o'clock.
(You can see the coins in our collection by clicking on the VAM link below.)
VAMs Featuring Die 10
1B2 - Die Edge Gouge DOL, Clashed Obverse n & st
18 - Doubled 18, Die Gouge in DOL, Denticle Impressions
Die Crack Characteristics
Obverse Die 10 appears on two VAMs, 1B2 and 18. These two VAMs are easily distinguished because VAM 1B2 is clashed and VAM 18 is not. We have a lot of examples of each VAM to work with for the analysis. There are ten VAM 1B2 coins and four VAM 18 coins. Characteristic of Die 10 is date doubling of the 18, which is present on both. But as a note, the Spike in the upper loop of the first 8 is just starting to develop with VAM 1B2 and can appear to be only an indication of a Spike all the way to a very small one.
The above coin is 32819784, an MS 62 VAM 1B2. All of the die cracks exhibited on our examples are somewhat superficial and just starting to develop. In our photographs there appear to be some minor cracks developing in the hair around the larger bear claw, but these are not visible under magnification of the actual coin. We could not find these cracks on others under a microscope.
This coin is 21499159, an MS62 VAM 18. Unlike its counterpart the Spike in the first 8 is much stronger, but there are no signs of die cracks on any of our examples.
But which VAM came first, and how do we know? We believe that VAM 18 came first and was then followed later by VAM 1B2.
The above image is from our VAM 18 and shows that the hair terminates in a point almost as complete as a full set of curls. Also, the Spike in 8 feature is large but rounded.
Then on VAM 1B2 the hair is truncated much shorter and the area immediately below the designer's initial has been cleaned out from polishing. The Spike in 8 has apparently been polished out, not completely but almost completely.
But this does not prove the origin of the Spike in 8 because we don't yet have proof that VAM 18 is the earliest die state.