Learn Grading: Prooflike (PL) and Deep Prooflike (DPL)

Posted on 6/12/2018

This new monthly feature in the NGC eNewsletter promotes a better understanding of NGC’s grades and designations.

Note: This monthly feature in the NGC eNewsletter promotes a better understanding of NGC’s grades and designations.

1861 Bombardment of Fort Sumter Dollar, graded NGC MS 64
Click image to enlarge.

NGC uses a numeric grade to succinctly describe a problem-free coin's condition. Certain coins, however, require a more nuanced description of their condition and appearance. For these coins, NGC graders follow the numeric grade with a designation, often called a "Strike Character."

Most circulation issue coins have minimally reflective fields, even in Mint State (MS) grades. When a circulation issue coin’s fields exhibit a higher-than-normal degree of reflectivity, the coin is said to be “Prooflike” (or “PL”) because it is reminiscent of a Proof coin. If the fields are deeply mirrored, the coin is said to be “Deep Prooflike” (or “DPL”).

NGC uses the PL or DPL modifiers after an MS coin’s numeric grade, when applicable. These designations indicate only the degree of reflectivity evident in a coin’s fields and make no implication as to other qualities associated with Proof coins, such as frosted devices and superior sharpness.

Click images to enlarge. (Center and left images courtesy of Heritage Auctions)

Morgan Dollars are often found in a PL or DPL state. The PL and DPL strike characters can be used with a wide variety of coins, however.

These 2017-W American Palladium Eagles are Mint State (left) and Prooflike.
Click images to enlarge.

In 2017, for example, numismatists were excited to discover that some of the new Palladium Eagles produced by the US Mint had Prooflike surfaces.

From left, China 1998 Alligator, graded NGC MS 66 RD, and China 1997 Crested Ibis, graded NGC MS 68 RD PL
Click images to enlarge.
From left, China 1995 Monkey, graded NGC MS 67 RD DPL (left) and NGC PF 68 RD Ultra Cameo
Click images to enlarge.

Above are examples that show various China 5 Yuan coins: a circulation-issue (MS) without a strike character, one with the PL strike character, one with the DPL strike character, as well as a Proof (PF) example for comparison.

NGC applies the PL and DPL designations automatically to qualified coins at the time of grading and at no additional cost. NGC’s use of “DPL” is equivalent to the “DMPL” designation used by some other grading services.

PL and DPL may be used on the NGC Label in conjunction with other modifiers, including:

The NGC Census reports populations for coins with no strike character, the PL strike character and the DPL strike character on separate lines. Coins with a combination of the strike characters (such as Brown, Prooflike) are also reported on separate lines. For a complete list of how strike characters appear on the NGC certification label and in the NGC Census, click here.

The degree of reflectivity is imparted on a coin at the time it is struck. Professional conservation by NCS cannot change the degree of reflectively unless the underlying reflectivity is obscured by haze, residue or other contaminants. Amateur and artificial attempts to enhance a coin’s reflectivity may result in the coin being considered “Altered Surfaces” or “Cleaned” and such a coin would not be encapsulated by NGC. Learn more at NGCcoin.com/NCS

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