John Baumgart

Who am I? I'm currently President of the Society of Silver Dollar Collectors -- the most vibrant, active specialization group in U.S. numismatics. I've been President since 2011, and have been editor of the SSDC's newsletter, the VAM-e, since VAM Thing I in 2004. I am also chef, cook and bottlewasher of Variety Slabbing Service, a company I created in 2003 for doing third-party attributions of silver dollars, and now also bust half dollars and Cherrypicker's guide varieties. I developed 7 different "Attribution Wizard" software titles with Jeff Oxman that were the first computer-assisted variety attribution products made available. If that's not enough, I also do coin photography.

What do I collect? For VAMs, it's mostly Morgan dollars. I've been doing these since the Top 100 book came out. I still haven't finished a Top 100 set. I originally wanted to cherrypick the whole set, but that's not realistically going to happen. As variety (not just varieties) is the spice of life, I am also close to finishing a 50-coin commemorative type set and have been known to buy other coins that are cool and a good buy.

Favorite VAMs? Where to start? I think the ones I like best are those where someone at the mint saw the die, said, "this is messed up," and then tried to fix it somehow, and rarely with much success. Many of these are in 1878, such as many of the 8TFs, the 78 VAM 121, 163, 187, 78-S VAM 18, 49, 50, the 1921s with very strong scribbilng scratches, the 21-S Thornhead sequence, and others no less interesting in the attempted repair job. Not all are super rare or valuable, but you can show any one of these to a new collector and tell them what happened and they'll likely think they're pretty cool, too.