NGC Grader Spots Rare Morgan Dollar Variety

Posted on 8/20/2013

A recent bulk submission included a rare San Francisco 1921 Morgan Dollar hidden among nearly 1,000 other Morgan Dollars.

An NGC grader was examining a bulk submission of nearly 1,000 Morgan Dollars when one coin stood out. The submission comprised a variety of dates and most of the coins were in low grades. These coins might sell for anywhere from $30 to $300 after NGC certification.

The sharp-eyed NGC grader saw one coin though that he instantly recognized to be an elusive Morgan variety worth upwards of $1,000. At first glance this coin appears to be a 1921 Morgan Dollar struck at Philadelphia with no mintmark. However, it is actually a San Francisco 1921 Morgan Dollar with a nearly invisible outline of the “S” mintmark – a result of the coining die being filled with grease at the location of the mintmark.

Left: Outline of "S" Mintmark; Right: Raised Die Gouge
Click images to enlarge.

The grader knew that the key diagnostic for this scarce variety was a raised die gouge between the B and U of PLURIBUS on the obverse, which is prominently seen on this example. Morgan Dollar varieties are attributed as “VAMs,” an acronym created from the first letters of the last names of Leroy C. Van Allen and A. George Mallis, the authors of the first reference book for Morgan Dollar varieties. This coin is attributed as 1921-S VAM-6B and is listed as one of the “Hit List 40” VAMs.

NGC offers its VarietyPlus® attribution service for major varieties of United States coins. To have a variety evaluated by NGC, simply select VarietyPlus on the NGC submission form. NGC publishes a complete list of varieties it recognizes along with helpful attribution tips and photographs on the NGC website under “NGC Research.” Visit the free VarietyPlus resource now >

NGC Dealers and Collectors Society Elite members can take advantage of bulk submission rates for eligible coin types. A bulk submission is considered to be 100 or more coins of the same type. Learn more about bulk submission rates >

Stay Informed

Want news like this delivered to your inbox once a month? Subscribe to the free NGC eNewsletter today!


You've been subscribed to the NGC eNewsletter.

Unable to subscribe to our eNewsletter. Please try again later.

Articles List

Add Coin

Join NGC for free to add coins, track your collection and participate in the NGC Registry. Learn more >

Join NGC

Already a member? Sign In
Add to NGC Coin Registry Example
The NGC Registry is not endorsed by or associated with PCGS or CAC. PCGS is a registered trademark of Collectors Universe, Inc. CAC is a trademark of Certified Acceptance Corporation.