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VAMs showing volatility
By Mark Ferguson

Worldwide economic turmoil is reaching more deeply into the coin market, stirring greater volatility in values.

Some market segments continue to trade very actively, such as coins priced at less than $500 or a little more. But other areas of the market are really being squeezed. There's no clear pattern right now as to the market direction, except for an overall softening of values.

Demand seems to be determined more by who's still spending money on coins and what those spenders collect, rather than multiple collectors chasing the same market areas. Even some die-hard specialty areas are being affected, such as VAM die varieties of Morgan and Peace dollars. ("VAM" is derived from the last names of pioneering silver dollar variety catalogers Leroy Van Allen and A. George Mallis. Morgan and Peace dollar varieties are cataloged by VAM numbers.)

VAM specialist dealer Michael Fey reports: "Americans are tightening their belts either by necessity, or by concern for an uncertain future economy. The advanced silver dollar market is no exception with collectors cashing in coins to pay for bills."

Regarding VAM silver dollars, he adds: "During the past quarter ... decliners led advances by 3 to 1. Further, declines tended to be more precipitous in price than advances."

Our latest update of values for VAM dollars shows a similar mixed picture. A few examples illustrate this. For instance, the VAM-3 variety of 1879-CC Morgan dollar, with a Large CC/Small CC Mint mark, remained steady in its circulated values, which are less than $1,000, while values for About Uncirculated and Mint State pieces fell.

The price for the VAM-3 dollar in AU-50 dropped from $2,200 to $1,500. The MS-60 through MS-63 grades dropped in value by $1,000 to $2,000 – all are priced now at $6,000 and less. The higher grades have fallen by more.

On the other hand, the VAM-10 1883 Sextupled Stars dollar rose in Mint State values. In MS-60 it increased from $550 to $700; in MS-62, from $800 to $1,200; and in MS-63, it advanced from $1,250 to $2,000.

One variety that remained the same in its values is the VAM-18 "Scarface" 1888-O Morgan dollar. Its values range from $100 in Fine 12 to $9,000 in MS-63.


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