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The 1888-O Hot Lips Morgan Dollar

By Joshua McMorrow-Hernandez - July 5, 2023

The 1888-O Hot Lips Morgan Dollar features significant doubling in the area of Miss Liberty’s lips. Courtesy of PCGS. Click image to enlarge.

Ask a Morgan Dollar enthusiast to name their favorite VAM variety, and they’ll likely reply with the 1888-O Hot Lips Dollar. What’s the Hot Lips Dollar? Well, first let’s clarify what a VAM variety is…

In 1971, Morgan Dollar specialists Leroy Van Allen and George Mallis published the first edition of their seminal book Comprehensive Catalog and Encyclopedia of Morgan & Peace Dollars, which identifies many of the minor and major Morgan Dollar and Peace Dollar varieties that now number into the thousands. Among the most popular of these varieties is the 1888-O Hot Lips, a coin that became one of the original varieties cataloged by Leroy C. Van Allen and A. George Mallis (whose names have been acronymed as “VAM”) and is now recognized among the Top 100 VAMs by PCGS. There are even PCGS Registry Sets dedicated to VAM Morgan Dollars.

So, what’s up with the Hot Lips Dollar? This popular variety refers to significant die doubling that is evident around Miss Liberty’s lips (and other areas of her portrait), which look especially pronounced on this widely collected variety. The unusual thickness of Miss Liberty’s lips gave rise to the term Hot Lips, a slang term that was popular in the mid-20th century. The phrase was perhaps most notably immortalized as the nickname of a female character in M*A*S*H, a 1970 comedy-drama film about a team of United States medics serving by the frontlines in the Korean War; the movie spawned a 1972-83 television show of the same name and overall plot.

The novel Hot Lips Dollar is a cornerstone piece in many Morgan Dollar sets and is a top acquisition for the many who specifically collect VAM Morgan Dollars. The demand for this coin has pushed its pricing skyward. With a price of more than $400 in XF40, it rivals the value of the scarcer Carson City dates. Prices top $12,000 for a specimen grading MS60, which offers just three specimens. The top PCGS grade for this coin is MS62, and those who seek one of the few pieces known at that grade threshold will need to shell out some $20,000.

Article provided by PCGS at
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