VAM Interest and Rarity

Interest and Rarity

If one reads the discussion forums on VAMworld and follows the statistics on individual coins, one thing becomes apparent.  The indications given for the rarity of and interest in a particular VAM are somewhat subjective and at this point very dated.  We might want these to be more objective, but it is not possible.


Fortunately we have individuals who have been involved in the collection and analysis of Morgan Dollar VAMs for decades.  They have the ability to guide collectors in the right direction, but even they often have only directional certainty to rely on.


But if you are a person who wants his/her facts "buttoned up tight" you are going to be disappointed in the world of VAMs.


VAMworld View

The scale attached to each VAM identified on VAMworld is interesting and the definitions on the right explain their guidelines.  However, taking a different approach to the information on the 1881-O group can yield a different answer to the issue of desirability, especially when you consider cost/price.


It has been suggested that if one adds together the rarity and interest numbers then you can get an approximate value for the uniqueness of any one VAM.  While this might be true, a more understandable view of the coins can be presented in a matrix where you plot the rarity and interest level of all VAMs.


Clearly the VAM 27 Double Ear jumps out in this matrix as desirable because it is rarely encountered and of interest to collectors.  But the VAM 1D Pummeled Eye does not rise to the same level of collectibility.  In fact there are 7 VAMs that are more rare, and 13 VAMs considered to be of more interest.


The VAM 5 is even more in question.  It is of little interest and not rare, and technically only one coin, the VAM 1 or no VAM, ranks lower.  Of all the 1881-O VAMs there are 13 of greater interest, and


Perhaps one of these should replace the VAM 1D and the VAM 5 in the Hit List?


1881-O Morgan Dollar Interest and Rarity








1881-O VAM Interest ==>














1G  10  30  50  50A   51

11  13



1B 26A  37A  49

3 12 19 25  31  32  33  34  35

1D 1E  1H  1I  1J  2  2B  9  28  33A  36  36A  37   37B  38  39  40  41  42  43  44  45  46  47  48

1A  2A  4  5 6 6A 7  8  14  15 17  18  20 21  22  23  24   26  29



























1881-O VAM Rarity ==>

The rarity scale identifies how likely you are to encounter the listed VAM

 R-1 = Common (Tens of Millions)

 R-2 = Not so Common (Several Million)

 R-3 = Scarce (Hundreds of Thousands)

 R-4 = Very Scarce (Tens of Thousands)

 R-5 = Rare (Several Thousand)

 R-6 = Very Rare (Several Hundred)

 R-7 = Extremely Rare (Few Tens)

 R-8 = Unique or Nearly Unique (Several)

The interest level identifies how much "interest" or demand there is for a given VAM.

 I-1 = Normal die variety with little interest to variety collectors.

 I-2 = Minor die variety with some interest to variety collectors.

 I-3 = Significant die variety with general interest to variety collectors.

 I-4 = Major die variety with universal interest to variety collectors.

 I-5 = Outstanding die variety with prime interest to variety collectors.

How Rare is Rare?

How Much Interest is There?

A significant problem with the rarity measure is the information is mostly subjective.  We know little about how many Morgans survive, and there are newly discovered coins daily.


So the indicator of rarity is based on the knowledge of a few who deal with the VAM coins on a daily basis.  They are knowledgeable and add a lot to the mix, but this is not a science.

VAM interest is also subjective.  How this data is pieced together is a complete mystery to us.  But it is fair to say that there is interest in the coins on the Top 100, Hit List 40, Hot 50, and other lists.


But even this can be ambiguous. is there interest because they are on one of the top lists, or are they on the list because there is interest and rarity?