1878-P VAM-19 vs VAM-20


The 1878-P VAM-19 and 1878-P VAM-20 (both eight tailfeather varieties) share the same obverse but have different reverses. The two reverses are often difficult to distinguish, and VAMmers and attribution services are known to confuse them.

This page is designed to assist with the reverse attribution process once you have determined that you are dealing with either a VAM-19 or VAM-20 (this page assumes that you have eliminated other VAMs, including 1878-P VAM-18, which also has the same obverse as VAMs 19 and 20).

Not all VAM-19 or VAM-20 coins will necessarily show the same degree of die cracks, die polishing, or polishing lines as the examples used to create this page (VAM-19 PCGS 62, VAM-20 ANACS 58 and ANACS 62). A lot depends on die stage, so your coins may differ a bit. However, any doubling, as well as the UPPER LEFT WREATH berry-vs-leaf diagnostics should be consistent with any example, the only visible "differences" being due to having a worn or weakly struck coin.


UPPER LEFT WREATH
This is the slam dunk difference. Check out the arrows pointing to this spot on the upper left side of the wreath, just below the top leaf cluster. If you have a berry, it's VAM-19. If you have the tip of a leaf, it's VAM-20.

VAM-19:
1878-P_VAM-19_left_wreath.jpg

VAM-20:
1878-P_VAM-20_left_wreath.jpg


"UN" AREA
Notice the polishing lines under the "U" that you may find on a VAM-19 (unsure if they are there for every VAM-19). VAM-20 has some similar "soft" lines, but they are elsewhere on the reverse.

VAM-19:
1878-P_VAM-19_UN.jpg

VAM-20:
1878-P_VAM-20_UN.jpg


LL in DOLLAR
The key here is the bottom of the LL. VAM-20 shows fantastic major doubling, while VAM-19 does not.

VAM-19:
1878-P_VAM-19_LL.jpg

VAM-20:
1878-P_VAM-20_LL.jpg


AR IN DOLLAR
Same as above. VAM-20 has the major doubling on the bottom of the AR.

VAM-19:
1878-P_VAM-19_AR.jpg

VAM-20:
1878-P_VAM-20_AR.jpg


ARROWHEADS
Try to use the previous distinctions above rather than arrowheads, which are very similar and both show outstanding doubling and other features. You can faintly see some more "soft" polishing lines in the field to the bottom right of the arrow tips on the VAM-19 photo, but the author is unsure if they are on all VAM-19 specimens.

VAM-19:
1878-P_VAM-19_arrowheads.jpg

VAM-20:
1878-P_VAM-20_arrowheads.jpg


UPPER TAILFEATHERS
Again, this is not a good area to use to distinguish the VAM-19 from the VAM-20. As with the arrowheads, these images are added to show indeed how similar these two reverses are.

VAM-19:
1878-P_VAM-19_upper_tailfeathers.jpg

VAM-20:
1878-P_VAM-20_upper_tailfeathers.jpg