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Variety vs Error or Variety + Error?

I recently got a magnifying lamp and it gave me a chance to get a better perspective on my modest coin collection. It also opened up questions about what are errors and what are varieties. Can a coin be both a variety and have additional mint errors?

There are 2 coins in particular that I am curious about.

The 1870 Indian Head Cent is in unremarkable condition but there's what I guess is an unusual die crack on the reverse. Although not totally unbroken, it encircles the entire ONE CENT on the reverse. Is this an error or a variety? Does this make the coin much more collectible?

The 1893 Morgan is what I am more curious about. From what I researched, it appears to be a VAM 3. However, there is significant 'spidering(?)' around much of the reverse. I didn't see this in any of the 1893 VAM 3s. In fact, there are few 1893 VAMs and almost no pictures of the reverse.

The first couple of pictures show the obverse and the doubled 3.

I know this is not even close to a mint state coin so there may be other marks interfering with what I am trying to convey in these pictures. In my recent research, I've found other coins in my collection with die cracks and breaks, but none with these type of marks. Is this a mint error? I find it hard to imagine that these marks could be post mint.

So, is really a 1893 VAM 3? If so, does the reverse make it a VAM 3 with mint errors or could it be another known variety that I haven't seen?

I appreciate any insight!


  • ifthevamzarockinifthevamzarockin Posts: 7,996 ✭✭✭✭✭
    edited January 16, 2021 8:07AM

    Welcome to the forum! :)

    Your cent has been knifed or cut around "one cent".

    Hard to tell much from the out of focus close-up on the Morgan but I would guess improperly cleaned.

    Edited to add: Yes, it looks like you have a Vam 3 ;)

  • jmlanzafjmlanzaf Posts: 30,264 ✭✭✭✭✭

    That's a scratch around "one cent" not a die break. A die break would be raised not incuse.

    A variety generally refers to a variation on the die itself. As such, multiple coins will show the variety. An error is a production miscue that generally affects only a single coin.

  • jmlanzafjmlanzaf Posts: 30,264 ✭✭✭✭✭

    I'm not sure exactly what you are referring to on the dollar but all I see is PMD (Post Mint Damage) on the reverse of the dollar.

  • rickoricko Posts: 98,724 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @RPYred.... Welcome aboard... Your IHC has Post Mint Damage (PMD), it is not a die crack. The Morgan also has extensive commerce wear - also post mint....Cheers, RickO

  • 291fifth291fifth Posts: 23,709 ✭✭✭✭✭

    The Indian cent has post mint damage from someone fooling around with a sharp object. It still has some value because it is a better date. A budget minded album collector would be OK with that coin.

    The Morgan dollar has been harshly cleaned and shows more nicks and dings than would be expected from a coin with that level of wear. 1893 is a better date so, again, a budget minded album collector would find the coin acceptable. I don't know anything about the VAMs so I can't comment on that.

    All glory is fleeting.
  • joeykoinsjoeykoins Posts: 14,582 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Hi and Welcome to the Forum.
    Nice to see another variety/error collector on board. Just another fun side in the hobby. - Joey :)

    "Jesus died for you and for me, Thank you,Jesus"!!!

    --- If it should happen I die and leave this world and you want to remember me. Please only remember my opening Sig Line.
  • Thanks to everyone for the welcomes and all the input.

    I didn't see how somebody could do all the marks on the reverse of the dollar because they are so fine. I'm sorry that I can't seem to get a picture that really shows the level of detail, but could some cleaning processes or tools could do that? If so, it's a shame to mess up a perfectly good coin.

    Per the IHC, the line above ONE and to the right does look cut but it sure seems raised underneath the CENT and to the left. I hadn't mentioned it because it seemed minor compared to the reverse, but is the faint obverse line from above the '7' to the 'I' a possible die crack? It doesn't seem to scratch the raised surfaces it crosses.

    Obviously, things are not always what they seem to the uninitiated...

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