An Open Letter to PCGS: Please Consider Designating All US Coins as Prooflike
Dear PCGS, and @BrettPCGS ,
I don't often post on the PCGS forums, but I am seen quite often on other numismatic forums. I am posting this here at the suggestion of @messydesk .
PCGS, Please consider designating all deserving US coins as Prooflike. Historically, PCGS has only designated Morgan dollars with the coveted PL and DMPL designations. The standard exists for what these mean, and these standards are familiar to the hobby. I personally own a stunning PCGS Morgan, graded 65+ DMPL purchased from Don Rinkor, and it is one of the highlights of my collection (all pictures seen below).
Over the past few years, various special issues (UHR gold, and some shipwreck recoveries) have also been designated as PL. In 2018, the PL designation was extended to the California fractional gold, and many foreign issues. I am extremely pleased to see the PL designation expanding and being applied to more areas (and look forward to purchasing foreign PL coins to complement my collection).
However, that doesn't go far enough. I personally am a collector of Prooflike Coinage. I am currently building a type set (Dansco 7070 style) of certified/designated Prooflike and DMPL coinage. I'll admit, this coinage is rare and not widely understood. It isn't widely collected. However, these pieces can be extremely impressive, and are often showpieces in a collection. Their unique qualities stand out above regular issue coinage. The Morgan provides a large canvas to showcase these mirrored fields, but the same effect is no less impressive on other coinage. If PCGS were to designate Prooflike on all deserving coinage, they can ensure these showpieces are recognized for the prizes that they are. Prooflike coinage is currently designated by other grading services, and these pieces routinely sell for large premiums over undesignated coinage. By adding the PL and DMPL designation to all deserving coinage, PCGS can increase its competitiveness in this (admittedly niche) market.
I will give you some examples from my personal collection. The first is this $2.50 gold piece. It was originally graded by NGC, but someone (before I bought it) crossed it to PCGS (as MS-64) where it now resides. However, the coin has extremely deep and strong mirrors - fully deserving of a PL designation. The coin has stronger mirrors than many PL Morgans. It would be more accurately graded (and trade for a significant premium) as an MS-64 PL.
The second is a 1908S Indian Cent. I bought it from @EagleEye at a FUN show a few years ago. At the time, it was graded PCGS MS-65. However, a PL Indian cent is worth a considerable premium (because it is exceptionally rare). So, I crossed it to NGC, where it is now graded MS-65+ PL. This coin is easily recognized as a PL by any discerning student of numismatics. You can debate the merits of each grading service, but you cannot debate the fact that a PL coin will earn a premium. If PCGS were to designate these PL coins, collectors benefit by easily recognizing the superior quality of these coins.
I will conclude with a third example of a stunning prooflike coin: this 1862 3 cent piece. It is graded NGC MS-67PL * CAC. The mirrored fields contrast with cameo devices reminiscent of the most impressive Morgan examples. The eye appeal of this coin is undeniable. And yet, with the current grading guidelines, this coin would receive no special designation from PCGS. It would probably sell for a premium solely because of its exceptional eye appeal - but it cries out for recognition. It screams for the special treatment of a PL designation.
And so I ask you, PCGS, please consider applying the PL and DMPL designation to all deserving US coinage. These pieces are recognized by the hobby as being superb, and are rewarded with premium prices. Collectors will be able to more readily find and collect these pieces if afforded the recognition they deserve.
aka Jason Poe