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
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