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Learn Coin Grading From NGC: Prooflike and Deep Prooflike

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

NGC coin grading 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 coin grading 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.

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.

United States 2017 American Eagle Palladium coin in Mint State. Image courtesy NGC

United States 2017 American Eagle Palladium coin in Prooflike. Image courtesy NGC

These 2017-W American Palladium Eagles are Mint State (top) and Prooflike. Images courtesy NGC

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

China 1998 Alligator in Mint State. Image courtesy NGC

China 1997 Crested Ibis in Prooflike. Image courtesy NGC

China 1998 Alligator (top), graded NGC MS 66 RD, and China 1997 Crested Ibis, graded NGC MS 68 RD PL

China 1995 Monkey in Deep Prooflike. Image courtesy NGC

China 1995 Monkey in Ultra Cameo. Image courtesy NGC

China 1995 Monkey, graded NGC MS 67 RD DPL (top) and NGC PF 68 RD Ultra Cameo

Above are coin grading examples of that show circulation-issue (MS) China 1995 Monkey 5 Yuan coins without a strike character, with the PL modifier and with the DPL strike character as well as a Proof (PF) example for comparison. There is also a similar coin with a DPL modifier, and a Proof (PF).

NGC coin grading 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:

  • 5FS (Five Full Steps; used for Jefferson Nickels);
  • 6FS (Six Full Steps on Jefferson Nickels);
  • BN (Brown; used on copper coins);
  • RB (Red Brown; used on copper coins);
  • RD (Red; used on copper coins);
  • FB (Full Bands; used on Mercury Dimes);
  • FH (Full Head; used on Standing Liberty Quarters); and,
  • Full Torch (Full Torch; used on Roosevelt Dimes).

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 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.

NGC-Certified Morgan Silver Dollars Currently Available on eBay


Numismatic Guaranty Company
Numismatic Guaranty Companyhttps://www.ngccoin.com/
NGC was founded in 1987 and has become one of the largest third-party grading services. Their parent company is the Certified Collectibles Group (CCG).

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