Is this the first Morgan dollar variety identification ?

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RogerB
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Is this the first Morgan dollar variety identification ?

Post by RogerB » Wed Mar 25, 2020 1:27 am

The very rare letter presented in a post about 1891-O dollars inspired me to check my database for earlier Morgan or Peace dollar varieties mentioned in official correspondence. The following letter might qualify as the first identification of a Morgan dollar design or variety - 7 tail feathers versus 8 tail feathers.

What do you think?
18790625 Mentions dollars with 7 or 8 tail feathers.jpg
18790625 Mentions dollars with 7 or 8 tail feathers.jpg (145.95 KiB) Viewed 197 times

RogerRock
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Re: Is this the first Morgan dollar variety identification ?

Post by RogerRock » Wed Mar 25, 2020 2:20 am

The statement "Please inform me whether the one with 8 feathers is spurious, or why the difference"
is most revealing regarding public knowledge at that time of 6-25-1879 in the Watsontown Bank of
Pliladelphia , PA.
Truly GREAT piece of numismatic history!
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DHalladay
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Re: Is this the first Morgan dollar variety identification ?

Post by DHalladay » Wed Mar 25, 2020 2:17 pm

This is very cool Roger!
Thanks for posting.
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fogie
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Re: Is this the first Morgan dollar variety identification ?

Post by fogie » Wed Mar 25, 2020 2:27 pm

Very much worth a read - Thanks!

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messydesk
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Re: Is this the first Morgan dollar variety identification ?

Post by messydesk » Wed Mar 25, 2020 3:08 pm

Pretty sharp-eyed cashier to notice that, but it's along the lines of today's bank cashiers being trained to notice fake $20s. It being 1879 at the time of his inquiry, the shape of the eagle's breast could have been the first thing noticed. I have to wonder what guidance banks were given when the designs were rapidly changed in 1878.
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Longstrider
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Re: Is this the first Morgan dollar variety identification ?

Post by Longstrider » Wed Mar 25, 2020 4:00 pm

Amazing find. Well done. Historic to say the least. Thank you!🐍

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vampicker
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Re: Is this the first Morgan dollar variety identification ?

Post by vampicker » Wed Mar 25, 2020 5:03 pm

Prior to this, the earliest specific mention of variety I was aware of is found in the Haseltine Type Table Catalogue from 1881.
It lists the 1878 pattern identifiable as either Judd 1550 or 1550A, Another 78 dollar with 7 tail feathers and the A touching the wing (Rev of 78) and an 8 TF proof.
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impairedsquirrel
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Re: Is this the first Morgan dollar variety identification ?

Post by impairedsquirrel » Thu Mar 26, 2020 1:25 am

Great find Roger!
...But, to answer the question, throw me in the "No" basket because neither they nor we can actually ID the specific varieties from this letter (unlike that other posted letter).
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messydesk
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Re: Is this the first Morgan dollar variety identification ?

Post by messydesk » Thu Mar 26, 2020 5:04 am

I think the earliest would be in 1878 when the design was purposefully modified.
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vampicker
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Re: Is this the first Morgan dollar variety identification ?

Post by vampicker » Thu Mar 26, 2020 7:43 am

And Haseltine also mentions an 1879 proof, which were struck from a single die pair
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RogerB
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Re: Is this the first Morgan dollar variety identification ?

Post by RogerB » Thu Mar 26, 2020 2:25 pm

RE: " I have to wonder what guidance banks were given when the designs were rapidly changed in 1878."

So far, I've seen nothing except verbal descriptions and simple illustrations to acquaint the public with new coin denominations or designs. These appear in newspapers and magazines. I've never come across any US Mint circular aimed at bank tellers, cashiers and others handling coins.

The 8 vs 7 tail feather subject comes up once or twice a year after 1879. Sometimes this is from banks but also from citizens who wonder if they'd been given a counterfeit.

Absence of strong official notice created a major counterfeiting scare when rays were removed from the shield nickel.

As for Haseltine - Do patterns count as varieties of the regular issue coins? His additional notes about wing position seem to count, though.

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vampicker
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Re: Is this the first Morgan dollar variety identification ?

Post by vampicker » Thu Mar 26, 2020 4:07 pm

They are the only US Mint produced Morgans that do not have VAM numbers, even in theory. It skirts the line for a variety, but he specifically notes (3 olive leaves on branch) how the pattern varies from the circulation issue.
Taking note of the hub differences in the 1878 issue is the birth of Morgan Dollar variety collecting.
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RogerB
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Re: Is this the first Morgan dollar variety identification ?

Post by RogerB » Thu Mar 26, 2020 6:12 pm

So maybe "VAMs" preceded the birth of either Leroy or George.... I wonder if there are/were early variety collectors who noticed some of the more prominent die differences?

:)

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vampicker
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Re: Is this the first Morgan dollar variety identification ?

Post by vampicker » Thu Mar 26, 2020 6:41 pm

Absolutely. George Rice annotated hub differences and combinations in an article in the Numismatist in June 1898. Howard Newcomb (yes, that Newcomb) did a more detailed examination of hub combinations with plates in the February 1913 edition of the Numismatist. His numbers were still used over 40 years later when articles on the subject by Melvin Carmichael and Charles Wallace appeared in the Numismatic Scrapbook magazine in the 1950's. Additionally, the November 1928 issue of the Numismatist contains an article reporting the discovery of the 1900 O/CC by noted collector Will W Neil.
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RogerB
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Re: Is this the first Morgan dollar variety identification ?

Post by RogerB » Thu Mar 26, 2020 7:07 pm

Thanks! Good stuff!

vamnuke
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Re: Is this the first Morgan dollar variety identification ?

Post by vamnuke » Fri Mar 27, 2020 3:12 pm

8-)

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