What do the designations “PL” and “DMPL” mean?

Ronnie B. writes: I have a quick question regarding the “Designation” PL and DMPL. I was checking the price of a Morgan 1897-S on PCGS website and I see that there are three 1897-S coin types listed. The values of the coin differ depending on the “designation”. What does this term mean and how can I determine which coin I have. Many Thanks, Ronnie

The first 20-30 or so impressions from a new Morgan silver dollar die would often have mirror fields similar to a proof. These coins are designated PL or “proof-like”. There is a subjective method by which the depth of the reflective fields are measured. DM is the designation for “deep-mirror”. DM (also referred to as DMPL) coins are often found with frosted devices (the design elements) and this has the effect of making the fields seem extremely reflective, frequently described as “Deep Mirror Cameo”.

After the first 30-?? strikes or so, the presses were stopped, the dies were removed, polished and then put into regular service. Subsequent coins struck had normal frosted fields. This process was the end stage of preparing a die for use. Prooflike coins, especially ones with “deep mirrors” (DMPL) and frosted devices bring higher prices because of their extraordinary beauty.

Note that AU Proof-like or Deep Mirror Proof-like dollars bring little or no premium above normal AU dollars of the same date and grade. The Population reports don’t necessarily indicate rarity, just the number graded.