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Coin Discovery: New Variety Discovered -1878 Vam 852010

A New die marriage for the 1878 Morgan Dollar had been discovered by Kenneth Robb,  a collector whose primary interest center around Vam varieties for the popular Morgan Silver Dollar series.

When a Morgan or Peace Dollar is attributed with a VAM number, this means it is one of the recognized varieties that are listed in the Encyclopedia of Morgan & Peace Dollars.

This book was written by Leroy Van Allen & George Mallis — their initials make up the abbreviation VAM.

Each different date/mint combination has it’s own set of varieties and VAM numbers.  VAM-4 would be the 4th listed variety for that specific date/mint.  A VAM-4 for one date/mint will not be the same for a different date/mint.

Each of these VAMs has its own rarity & interest factor.  A rare variety with a high interest factor will be quite valuable — a common, low-interest variety may not have any premium at all.  The rarity and interest factors are listed in the encyclopedia, but prices are not.

Vam collectors are passionate about their specialty, and this is the first new discovery of a new die marrige for a 1878 with B1 reverse that has been reported in the past 45 years.

First posted on the Coin Community message boards on October 21st, and then on the Vamword website several hours later, the  coin initially had collectors stumped in trying to reconcile the die charactoristics with the then known Vam Varieties. It was suggested by several collectors that the coin be sent to Vam expert Leroy Van Allen for inspection and attribution.

On October 26th, the following news reportedly arrived from Mr. Van Allen:

In late October 2010, Kenneth Robb sent a nice condition PL 1878 P with B1 type reverse that had the II/I 6 obverse of VAM 80. However, he pointed out that the reverse die didn’t match the reverse die cracks of VAM 80 and also didn’t have the die chips on the eagle’s right wing. Furthermore, the reverse die didn’t seem to match any of the known B1 reverse listings. (more…)

Profiles: Medal and Coin Artist Alex Shagin

Alex Shagin was born in Russia, near Leningrad, on January 21, 1947. Alexander George Shagin is the only child of George and Ekaterina Shagin. He studied at the Vera Mukhina School of Arts and Design, completing his education in 1971. Shortly after completing his education he was drafted into the soviet army where he spent a little over a year.

Following his discharge, he became an apprentice at the Leningrad Mint. As an apprentice, he submitted his diploma project, a medal of Peter the Great, to the Soviet authorities. His work was so admired that he was recommended for appointment as an artist of the mint. By 1974, Shagin had become a leading designer and sculptor.

In the 1970’s the Leningrad mint was involved mostly in the production of medals and commemorative coins. Shagin was responsible to produce at least one medal every two months. Although he was allowed a rather wide latitude in his work, all of his designs had to be approved by the Council of Art medals before they could be struck.

By the end of the 1970’s, Shagin began to become more and more concerned about the Soviet government’s control over his artistic expression. While visiting an exhibit of medals in Poland in 1978, Shagin was astonished to learn of the artistic freedom his Polish colleagues. During that visit Shagin became convinced that he had to seek artistic freedom in the West.

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David Lisot of Coin Television Interviews Alex Shagin at the recent Long Beach Expo

Upon his return to Leningrad, Shagin applied for an exit visa. This so angered the Soviet officials that he was immediately relieved of his position. After waiting more than a year, during which time he had no means of earning a living, he was finally given an exit visa. In 1979 Shagin emigrated to the United States and now resides in Santa Monica, California where he continues his art.

He has works in museums and private collections around the world, including the Hermitage Museum, the Smithsonian Institution, Yad Vashem Museum, the British Museum and the Swedish Royal Medallic Collection. In 2002, as First Vice President of the American Medallic Sculpture Association (A.M.S.A.) he participated in the Federation Internationale de le Medaille (F.I.D.E.M.) congress by designing a special presentation medal for the American Delegation–The Medal of Liberty presented to twelve individuals by Ronald Reagan in 1986.

Each project Alex Shagin designs is a personal tribute to the freedom and democracy he found since immigrating to America from Russia in the 1980’s. His work on the Moscow Olympics (1980) and Los Angeles Olympics (1984) led to international recognition culminating in the American Numismatic Society’s Saltus Award in 1995. He has created works for the US Mint, Singapore Mint, Israel Government Mint, American Numismatic Association, Leningrad Mint, The White House (Ronald Reagan) to name a few.