NGC Grading of China 1993-1999 Copper Animals

Posted on 7/20/2017

Here is a guide to how NGC will attribute 1993-1999 Chinese animal coins

China minted a series of copper 5 Yuan animal coins, beginning in 1993 with the Panda and concluding with the Butterfly in 1999. Other animals depicted were the Golden Monkey, Baiji Dolphin, Tiger, Crested Ibis, Red-Crowned Crane, Brown-Eared Pheasant, Alligator and Sturgeon. The ten coins issued in this series were struck in Mint State (Uncirculated) and Proof with the Mint State examples ranging from normal surfaces to Deep Prooflike surfaces.

Although there is literature that establishes that these coins were minted in both Mint State and Proof along with mintage figures, the fact is that differentiating between the two methods of manufacture is not so easy.

NGC uses the MS designation on its label to describe Uncirculated coins. The PL (or Prooflike) or DPL (Deep Prooflike) modifiers may be added after the grade for MS coins to describe pieces that exhibit frosted devices and either mirrored or deeply mirrored fields. Proof coins are described as PF on the NGC label.

Proof 1993-1999 Chinese animal coins were distributed in two different packages: cardboard and gift versions. The Proofs in the cardboard packaging vary in quality, so much so that one Chinese reference book even tries to establish a scale for the “degree of proof”. There are even cases where the coin appears to exhibit a Proof obverse mated with a Mint state reverse.

The animal coins distributed in cardboard packaging vary from MS DPL to PF. Coins sold in the gift packaging are easily distinguishable as Proofs. Many other coins exhibit normal surfaces (attributed as MS) or Prooflike surfaces (attributed as MS PL).

NGC uses the same attribution techniques to assess the 1993-1999 Chinese animal coins as it does any other modern coins. NGC therefore does not base its attribution on the packaging, but rather on the coin’s actual attributes—how the coin appears. This is done to more accurately describe the coin as well as to ensure that tampered packaging does not result in an incorrect attribution.

Until this point, NGC described the animal coins as either MS, MS PL or PF. However, in order to more accurately describe the differences in surface variations, we will begin using the MS DPL designation on those coins that warrant it.

Here is a guide to how NGC will attribute 1993-1999 Chinese animal coins:

Mint State (MS)
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Mint State (MS): overall frosty devices with no contrast between devices and field.

Mint State Prooflike (MS PL)
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Mint State Prooflike (MS PL): frosted devices and mirrored (Prooflike) fields.

Mint State Deep Prooflike (MS DPL)
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Mint State Deep Prooflike (MS DPL): frosted devices and deeply mirrored (Deep Prooflike) fields. Unlike Proof coins, the fields are not fully mirrored and have areas of frost (most times close to the rim of the coin).

Proof (PF)
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Proof (PF): Complete and full contrast between frosted devices and full (complete) mirrored fields.

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