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An Open Letter to PCGS: Please Consider Designating All US Coins as Prooflike

physicsfan314physicsfan314 Posts: 178 ✭✭✭
edited January 16, 2019 5:44PM in U.S. Coin Forum

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.

Thank you,
physicsfan314
aka Jason Poe








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Comments

  • david3142david3142 Posts: 2,693 ✭✭✭✭✭
    edited January 16, 2019 9:06PM

    @physicsfan314

    I fully support this. I don’t understand why they don’t add the star too. Why give your competitors any advantage if it’s easy to duplicate it? The stars and PL coins definitely have a following and I think adding the designations at PCGS would result in a LOT of resubmissions in addition to some crossovers.

    Also, nice to see you on these boards and that is a spectacular Morgan (as are the other coins).

  • cameonut2011cameonut2011 Posts: 8,175 ✭✭✭✭✭

    This was brought up in Charville's AMA thread. I don't think it is a priority, but I am hopeful too that PCGS will expand the designations. The sad reality is that many dealers will not consider coins on consignment that are NGC - even if they are PQ PL coins. That says a lot about the state of the market, and it unduly penalizes PL collectors by forcing them to choose by having the coins properly designated or having the coins in the "right plastic."

  • koynekwestkoynekwest Posts: 8,354 ✭✭✭✭✭

    I strongly second this PL designation idea. Maybe the changes in the powers that be will actually do it.

  • BroadstruckBroadstruck Posts: 29,687 ✭✭✭✭✭

    PCGS should also consider adding PL and DMPL designations to Exonumia like NGC does.

    Between Coins and Exonumia being resubmitted for Proof-Like status consideration the only downside for PCGS would be if they don't like making money?

    To Err Is Human.... To Collect Err's Is Just Too Much Darn Tootin Fun!
  • cameonut2011cameonut2011 Posts: 8,175 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @Realone said:
    I sure hope they don't. It is unnecessary imho. Soon we will all be wanting 50% PL, or Pl obverse only , or near PL. You got business strike designation and proof designation, it is obvious when a coins surface are PL, some are and some aren't. I can't wait until the time comes to designations for a Bill Reuker designation "Just a tad close" to PL.

    It isn't unnecessary if you want to know the populations of PL coinage for each series/issue. NGC census data is artificially low for some series and misrepresents the rarity of some issues (e.g. seated coinage). It would be nice to have a better idea of what is out there in TPG plastic.

  • SanctionIISanctionII Posts: 9,850 ✭✭✭✭✭

    I would like to see our host give Proof Like and DMPL designations to all series.

    I have a silver Roosevelt dime and a silver Franklin half that appear to be prooflike. They look much different and better than their regular business strike counterparts.

  • cameonut2011cameonut2011 Posts: 8,175 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @Realone said:

    @Broadstruck said:

    @Realone said:
    I sure hope they don't. It is unnecessary imho. Soon we will all be wanting 50% PL, or Pl obverse only , or near PL. You got business strike designation and proof designation, it is obvious when a coins surface are PL, some are and some aren't. I can't wait until the time comes to designations for a Bill Reuker designation "Just a tad close" to PL.

    Then might as well get rid of the RD, RB, and BN designations as collectors can tell what level redness or brownness copper is without any TPGS telling them on a label.

    Agreed. Thats problematic too, coins turn in the holder. It is so oddly subjective or an element of time and storage that I rarely agree with the colored designations too. Red often looks Brown and so on. I don't rely on the designation, I rely on what I see.

    Ditto for grade. They might as well get rid of that too.

  • cameonut2011cameonut2011 Posts: 8,175 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @messydesk said:
    PCGS did not designate cameo proofs in 1991, either. Why do they do it today?

    Because it brings them a lot of money, and they were heavily lobbied by Tomaska.

  • ZoinsZoins Posts: 26,918 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @physicsfan314 those are nice looking coins! How strong are the mirrors in terms of say inches or centimeters? It could be great to see photos against a page of text which I’ve only seen some for Morgan’s so far!

  • jtlee321jtlee321 Posts: 2,187 ✭✭✭✭✭

    I am in absolute agreement with hoping to get PCGS to recognize PL/DMPL on all US series coins. I would be happy if they opened the designation up to ALL coins, tokens, SCD and any other exonumia. There really is nothing but an upside for them to do this.

    I have a 1969-D Kennedy Half Dollar that has fields that look exactly like a 1969-S Proof. In fact, when I first saw it, I thought it was a proof that was tossed into the melt pile. As soon as I saw the Denver mm, I bought it instantly. I would love to have it in a PCGS holder with the PL designation, right now my only choices are NGC and ANACS and I'd rather not go that route.

  • mustangmanbobmustangmanbob Posts: 1,890 ✭✭✭✭✭

    I am 100% behind this proposal, as a $10,000 extra charge per side of the coin to be examined and $50,000 per side to be added to the label.

    We could also add the following Levels:

    Garbage Business Strike
    Government Shutdown Made by who knows who level of Business Strike
    Cheap Chinese Counterfeit type Business Strike
    Poor Business Strike
    Weak Business Strike
    Average Business Strike
    Strong Business Strike
    Excellent Business Strike
    Celestial Business Strike
    Needle in a Haystack Amount of Prooflike Surface in a Business Strike Coin
    Someone Who Found a Shiny Coin therefore it is a Undiscovered Secret Proof Coin Surface
    Quasi Proof Like
    Semi Proof LIke
    A Blend of Semi Proof Like and Quasi Proof Like
    A richer Blend of Semi Proof Like and Quasi Proof Like
    Proof Like
    Unable to Prove Proof Like for Mysterious Coins
    Shallow Proof Like
    Wading Pool Proof Like
    Deep End Proof Like
    Atlantic (For Eastern Coast Coins) Trench Prooflike
    Marianas Trench Deep Proof LIke (For western mint coins)
    Black Hole Proof LIke for Coins that Cannot be seen only detected by their affect on other coins

    This would rapidly expanded the number of collectors, who are dissatisfied by having so few levels of grading, on a 0 to 70 scale, with + and PL and DPML and coins that undergo transmogrification every 7th resubmission or 4 to 5 years or when seen on a Tuesday, and then once in a holder experience a changeling process that 42.45% disagree that the label could have ever described the 1) piece of junk in the holder or 2) Dramatically undergraded Best of the Best of the Best Darling Coin.

  • WildIdeaWildIdea Posts: 1,788 ✭✭✭✭✭

    As it is, at times I see folks confusing PF designations as a high MS grade. Maybe not seasoned collectors, but I hear this at times. PL adds to that general fog. Morgan collectors seem to get it as they can see the grade designation coming ahead of time, but PLs suddenly popping up at random across the board would take some getting used to.

    To me, I see the PL designation is an attempt to add value to the coin and I get that. Should a mirrored field add value? I think so, but not neccissarily. Does it describe a coin better sight unseen? Yes. Would it add confusion to the market? Probably. Could a non designated coin with mirrored fields be valued by the market as eye appeal to the beholder? I think that’s just fine.

    I think it plays to the graders benefit to keep the grades brief, limiting their liability exposure.

  • spacehaydukespacehayduke Posts: 3,270 ✭✭✭✭✭

    I fully agree with Jason's arguments as to why TPG's of all flavors should institute the PL designation. PCGS would make money with this, so since they have share holders that want a better share price, and any company wants to make money, they should institute this IMO.

    Realone, why not remove FB, FT and every other grade modifier as well, since you don't seem to like them. Let's go back to vanilla bland grading. :)

    Best, SH


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  • SethChandlerSethChandler Posts: 1,664 ✭✭✭

    I totally get this. And I really appreciate the thoughtful analysis by the OP. He is very passionate. I am not that smart, but it does seems like a slippery slope. Is it PL for the series, PL for the date, type of discussions and arguments can take place. Hard to stick to a certain standard as you just do not see too many PL coins which makes the coins difficult to rank.

    Love the idea tho!

    Collecting since 1976.
  • RittenhouseRittenhouse Posts: 561 ✭✭✭

    @mustangmanbob said:
    Black Hole Proof LIke for Coins that Cannot be seen only detected by their affect on other coins

    ROTFLMAO.

  • nagsnags Posts: 679 ✭✭✭

    Grade and value are subjective. Authentication is not. Personally, I see the main benefit of a TPG as authenticating a coin. I can gauge the other stuff and come to my own conclusion of value to me. A number is fine, but so often incorrectly adds or detracts value in a matter I don't agree with.

  • topstuftopstuf Posts: 14,803 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Do it like ammo.
    +P+
    We need more "standards" to increase our "enjoyment." >:)

  • Peace_dollar88Peace_dollar88 Posts: 1,165 ✭✭✭✭✭

    I would hope PCGS will designate PL coinage across U.S. coins.

  • CatbertCatbert Posts: 4,048 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Agree with the proposal, but believe PCGS must extract a commitment from @physicsfan314 to cross all his collection to PCGS holders. ;)

    "Got a flaming heart, can't get my fill"
  • AlexinPAAlexinPA Posts: 1,232 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Proof like, semi-proof like what next? I know; how about MPL (Maybe Proof Like) or CPL (Could be Proof Like). Just my opinion but if the coin is NOT a Proof it is not.

  • jerseycat101jerseycat101 Posts: 1,141 ✭✭✭✭

    This is an easy way for PCGS to generate some revenue with resubmissions.

  • PocketArtPocketArt Posts: 1,297 ✭✭✭✭✭
    edited January 17, 2019 3:40PM

    This would be a great welcome to see PCGS designate PL's for other series that NGC, and ANACS check for PL qualities. Of course, I collect PL's so I'm biased....

    I do agree with what @RogerB indicated- establishing a criteria for PL's that is accepted, and standardized with other TPG's is necessary.

    Failure to establish agreed upon criteria for PL's could result in a loosening of standards, and profiteers will go where the standards are the loosest, and the potential return is the greatest. Could see many semi-pl coins being graded PL to attract business. Not saying PCGS would do this; yet, it's always a concern if there is true demand with all TPG's.

    If it were to be the case- I'd hope PCGS would not then. Every TPG has their place with collectors, and have established their merits I suppose.

    I like top 3 TPG's equally....truly.

  • Insider2Insider2 Posts: 14,457 ✭✭✭✭✭

    II agree with the OP and I'll confess that I had no idea PL coins of any type besides Morgan's were not designated.

    In the past, it never made ANY SENSE to me that the second tier services provided services and designations that the top two services did not provide. I'm not going to take this post down memory lane with multiple examples because to me it comes down to this:

    Most people (even many here) don't have the expertise to grade or authenticate coins. For example "Semi-PL" went the way of the dinosaurs long ago (it is a great way to describe coins with a little bit of mirror reflectivity); yet the designation appeared in this thread.

    A PL coin of any denomination/type must be more attractive and valuable to most collectors over a frosty example. If a non-Morgan is PL, CALL IT for what it is. IMO, not doing this is as silly as a Morgan dollar graded "Obverse Deep Mirror." It has been explained to me that these coins are more valuable and that's why the designation is needed.

    When more info is put on a label, there is more of a chance someone will disagree. So what. Coins have attributes. As long as a majority of knowledgeable numismatists agree and can explain the reason for the designation, including it on a label will help educate others.

  • coinkatcoinkat Posts: 20,419 ✭✭✭✭✭

    I argue that this is part of the evolutionary process needed to make grading what it should be. Even though this designation may rarely be used with certain coins, it is part of what exists and should be recognized as such.

    Experience the World through Numismatics...it's more than you can imagine.

  • AlexinPAAlexinPA Posts: 1,232 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @david3142 said:

    @AlexinPA said:
    Proof like, semi-proof like what next? I know; how about MPL (Maybe Proof Like) or CPL (Could be Proof Like). Just my opinion but if the coin is NOT a Proof it is not.

    Please explain why this doesn’t seem to be a problem for Morgan Dollars.

    I collect Morgans David; preferably Carson City Dollars and have never bought a Proof Like or Semi Proof Like. Old fashioned I guess. Thanks for asking.

  • physicsfan314physicsfan314 Posts: 178 ✭✭✭

    Thanks for the kind comments, y'all. I really hope that PCGS is listening - it seems like a good majority of you are in favor of expanding the PL designation.

  • ConnecticoinConnecticoin Posts: 11,283 ✭✭✭✭

    Wow, those are some KILLER PL coins, especially that 08-S IHC!

  • BloodManBloodMan Posts: 1,811 ✭✭✭✭✭

    I was hoping that PCGS might reply to this thread and provide additional information on their plans for PL/DMPL expansion. As @cameonut2011 mentioned, this topic was covered during the “Ask Me Anything Session” with Brett Charville on January 1. The original question and response are copied below for those who may have missed it earlier in the month.


    @BloodMan said:
    Hi Brett,
    Congratulations on your appointment as PCGS Present! I am a long-time collector and PCGS coin forum member. My question relates to the prooflike designation. PCGS designates Morgan dollars as prooflike (PL) and deep mirror prooflike (DMPL), as well as coins from several other series, eg, Ultra High Relief double eagles and gold coins from the S.S. Central America recoveries #1 and #2.
    The popularity of prooflike coins has increased markedly in the past decade. In the series that I follow, liberty double eagles, coins designated as prooflike by other grading services sell for significant premiums over non-PL coins of the same grade. This is true of PCGS PL double eagles recovered from the S.S. Central America where PL coins can sell for multiples of non-PL coins.
    Has PCGS considering opening the PL designation to other series, eg, non-shipwreck liberty double eagles? I would assume that PCGS has standards in place to distinguish between PL and non-PL double eagles. Perhaps those same standards could be applied to non-SSCA double eagles.
    Thanks for your consideration.
    Bloodman

    Brett’s response:
    Great question. PL/DMPL expansion is something I'll be taking a look at in 2019, but no promises whatsoever, I'll simply be taking a hard look at it. There's more moving parts here than many people realize in terms of establishing grading standards, updating/reformatting the CU retail price guide, and adding thousands of new PCGS spec numbers.

  • physicsfan314physicsfan314 Posts: 178 ✭✭✭

    BM - that is a fantastic post. I wasn't involved in that AMA, but I am very intrigued by Brett's response. It seems like he knows there is demand for it, but he's trying to figure out the business aspect of it. I wouldn't think its as complicated as he implies, given that both NGC and ANACS have done it for decades. They already have the standard figured out and published - the just have to apply the PL to the rest of the series.

  • As per previous comment in AMA: This is something we're scheduled to take a hard look at in 2019. I'm hesitant to comment too much on stuff like this as I don't want to get anyone's hopes up, so I won't. :#

    Brett Charville --- I work at PCGS

  • cmerlo1cmerlo1 Posts: 7,336 ✭✭✭✭✭
    edited January 20, 2019 4:39PM

    @lablover said:
    I too would like to see our host consider the PL Designation on US Coins. This one was graded PCGS MS67, but I had to take across the street to get the PL Designation. Would have loved to see it in the PCGS holder. Just graded at FUN as MS67*PL...next stop is the +!!!

    I have one of those too! Looks like a 1950's-era proof. Currently in an ANACS MS66 holder (no PL designation). Very difficult to photograph and I'm still trying:


    You Suck! Awarded 6/2008- 1901-O Micro O Morgan, 8/2008- 1878 VAM-123 Morgan, 7/2013- 1983 No-S Proof Set
  • LJenkins11LJenkins11 Posts: 431 ✭✭✭✭✭

    This is an intriguing thread to me. The OP's displayed coins, and lovely examples they are, certainly appear to show PL/DMPL characteristics and I see no reason why they shouldn't be identified as such along with any other coin displaying such characteristics. They would no doubt fair better against a non PL/DMPL coin of the same year/mint mark displaying non PL/DMPL head to head in an auction so why not designate them as such? In addition, much of the hobby and secondary market clearly goes bonkers over a green/gold CAC sticker so why shouldn't PCGS also acknowledge coins at the higher end of their own assigned grade? Reasonably, these suggestions would be understandable in a hobby where identifying the best of the best is paramount and ultimately driven by paying recipient.

    IMHO, Ideally I would prefer expansion to include all 70 points first. A theoretical XF49 (not a currently assigned grade) should assumingly get a CAC sticker if under the current XF45 to AU50 range as it is in the upper tier for the spectrum where a 5 point scale is in use in this range but yet somehow graders can nail down grades from 60 all the way to perfect 70?

    That aside, I think the OP's suggestion are a great idea. Not all coins of the same grade are equal and when you boil it down it seems evident that eye appeal, strike and sticker add-on, as well as the resulting auction prices realized, has much to do with determining a coins hierarchy but there is no reason why PL/DMPL as well as star should be omitted from a coins label as it expands on determining the eye appeal and strike characteristics of the coin. Further, if you're going to grade the coin then grade the coin fully to the extent possible and if that means assigning PL/DMPL, Full Bell Lines, Full Head, etc, or any other assignment such as a star grade, obverse, reverse designations, then do it and be be done with it. As a hobbyist consumer, meaning I buy and do not sell, I strongly prefer more accurate/detailed grading. I WANT to know why an assigned grade is as is on that label and even though TPG's are subjective to the grader a more detailed scale and designation would help explain a coins assigned grade. There is nothing wrong in holding the TPG's more accountable for their grading standards. Folks are already paying good money for a detailed grading service so why not get a fully detailed grading service? The majority in this hobby are not professional graders and buying the label is more commonly relied upon than buying the coin based on personal abilities (likely more for authenticity assurance) and if that were not the case there would be no need for TPG's (and I fall into buy the label much of the time and rarely purchase raw coins).

  • ms70ms70 Posts: 13,452 ✭✭✭✭✭
    edited January 20, 2019 7:02PM

    I completely disagree. It's so unnecessary. I have two eyes and the ability to form my own opinion. I wouldn't even want a PL designation on my coins.

    Great transactions with oih82w8, JasonGaming, Moose1913.

  • Peace_dollar88Peace_dollar88 Posts: 1,165 ✭✭✭✭✭

    The fact that you acknowledged this thread and will take a hard look into this gives us hope. Thanks @brettpcgs

  • Insider2Insider2 Posts: 14,457 ✭✭✭✭✭

    One thing collectors need to keep in mind. Toning (especially the blue color) can reflect light in such a way to make a coin appear PL when it really is not. We named it the "apparent Prooflike effect" in the technical grading system used in Washington, DC. Aside for the eye appeal, which was not considered in that system, it added nothing to the grade; yet was mentioned to describe the coin.

  • labloverlablover Posts: 3,175 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @cmerlo1 said:

    @lablover said:
    I too would like to see our host consider the PL Designation on US Coins. This one was graded PCGS MS67, but I had to take across the street to get the PL Designation. Would have loved to see it in the PCGS holder. Just graded at FUN as MS67*PL...next stop is the +!!!

    I have one of those too! Looks like a 1950's-era proof. Currently in an ANACS MS66 holder (no PL designation). Very difficult to photograph and I'm still trying:


    I'd send that 47S to NGC as a cross (in holder) and keep working it for the PL. Nice coin!!! Wanta sell it?

    "If there are no dogs in Heaven, then when I die I want to go where they went." Will Rogers
  • david3142david3142 Posts: 2,693 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @ms70 said:
    I completely disagree. It's so unnecessary. I have two eyes and the ability to form my own opinion. I wouldn't even want a PL designation on my coins.

    Do you object to the designation for Morgan dollars? Do you feel the same way about other designations or even grades? I fail to see how there’s any difference.

    Every objection raised in this thread has been solved from a grading perspective by PCGS for Morgans (and a few others) and NGC for all types. I fully understand PCGS would also have to update their numbering system, registry, etc. That may not be easy for them, and they may have higher priority changes but they could certainly grade deserving PL coins tomorrow if they wanted.

    If this already existed, would people try to take it away? I have never heard anyone say that Morgans should not be designated PL or DMPL if deserving, and I’ve never heard anyone suggest that NGC restrict their designations to fewer series. What I see here is nothing more than inertial reasoning.

  • messydeskmessydesk Posts: 17,823 ✭✭✭✭✭

    For establishing standards for PL-ness, it seems that this is most easily done on the Barber, Longacre, and earlier coinage, as it is most similar to Morgan dollars, with a flat, easily polished field that is unrelated to the devices. By contrast, Buffalo Nickels would seem the most difficult to define, with fields that, if reflective, aren't easily measured.

  • jmski52jmski52 Posts: 20,865 ✭✭✭✭✭

    When Canada first started producing prooflike coins (around 1965?), does anyone know how that production process differed from the US Mint's proof coin production?

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  • @jmski52 said:
    When Canada first started producing prooflike coins (around 1965?), does anyone know how that production process differed from the US Mint's proof coin production?

    Their PL coins more closely resemble the SMS coins the US produced around that time.

  • @messydesk said:
    For establishing standards for PL-ness, it seems that this is most easily done on the Barber, Longacre, and earlier coinage, as it is most similar to Morgan dollars, with a flat, easily polished field that is unrelated to the devices. By contrast, Buffalo Nickels would seem the most difficult to define, with fields that, if reflective, aren't easily measured.

    PL Buffalos are extremely rare - but if you've ever seen one, you know that the mirrors are unquestionable. There are only a couple certified, but they stand apart from the rest of the herd in a way that is unmistakable. The same could be said for many series with textured or highly curved fields.

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