This week, we look at the “Rusty Fish Hook” Morgans. Unique and collectable coins are often referred to as “VAMs,” or by their VAM number—a ranking based on a numerical grading scale, created by numismatic authors Leroy Van Allen and George Mallis. This particular Morgan variety—a 1904-O VAM 4B—might not have the prettiest name, but it sure is an interesting coin. There are so many fun details with Morgans, but there’s only one that makes a true Rusty Fish Hook.
Dr. Mark Kimpton, author of “Elite Clashed Morgan Dollars,” discovered the Rusty Fish Hook Morgan in 2003. This variety is included in both the Hot List 40 and the Super CD. No other 1904-O VAM belongs to both lists. The Rusty Fish Hook Morgan is a very rare VAM, with only several hundred known to exist.
Here’s what to look for to see if your 1904-O is actually a VAM 4B. The first and most obvious clash is in front of Liberty’s lips. The clash appears to create a “fish hook” in Liberty’s mouth, which gave the variety its name. The next clash to look for is on the front of Liberty’s neck. Rusty Fish Hooks will have two small curved lines caused by the “I” from “In God we Trust.” There is also slight doubling in the date, which may appear as if the bottom of the 9 is connected to the upper loop. On the upper rim just above “BUS” in “Pluribus” there will a rim cud, which was caused by a chunk of the die that broke off and left a gap at the edge of the die. Now flip the coin over to the reverse, and check for the following details: First, there will be pitting around the “OL” of “Dollar.” This pitting was caused by deterioration from a rusting die. You might also see clash marks between the wreath and eagle’s wing on the left portion of the coin.
The Rusty Fish Hook would be a gem in anyone’s VAM collection, and a must-have for Hit List 40 or Super CD collectors. It’s also a great addition to any Morgan Dollar collection.
Don’t miss an exciting example of this VAM variety on the Internet Only Coin Show this week—tune in on Tuesday, at 7:30 pm EST / 4:30 pm PST, to www.artandcointv.com. If you want to get an exclusive pre-show look at this VAM variety, then click here to sign up for our mailing list to get updated as soon as it’s released in our online coin store!