The Grading of paper money is the most important aspect of dealing with currency. Whether you are buying for a collection or just trying to determine what the value of a given note is. Very small and seemingly insignificant features such as a small corner fold or a slight, almost undetectable wrinkle, could result in a Substantial reduction, in the overall value of a note.

One would look to find any distracting characteristic which would degrade the value of the note. Some things to look for:

Folds ————Which generally run vertically, and horizontally (but not always)
Corner folds ——-In many cases, are easily overlooked, and rounded corners.
Pinholes ———Easily found holding the note up to a strong background light.
Paper quality – Does the paper have a new, crispy feel to it?
Centering ——-Is the margin, of equal distance around the note (front and back).
(The margin is the portion of the note between the edge, and the printed area, of the note)

When making a definitive description of a banknote. The words pinholes, staple holes, trimmed, writing on face, tape marks, etc. should always be added to the description of a note. Stating this does not necessarily lower the overall grade of the note. The final price will usually reflect the downgraded worth of the defective note. The description, as a matter of fairness and honesty, should always include the specific defects.


UNCIRCULATED (“UNC”): A perfectly preserved note, crisp, full color, no stains, never mishandled by the issuing authority, a bank teller, the general public or a collector.

The paper is clean and firm, without discoloration. Corners are sharp and square, without any evidence of rounding. (Rounded corners are often a tell-tale sign of a cleaned, reconditioned, or “doctored” note.)

An uncirculated note will have it’s original, natural printing or paper sheen.

NOTE: Some notes are most often available with slight evidence of very light counting folds which do not “break” the paper.

ABOUT UNCIRCULATED (“AU”): A virtually perfect note, with some minor handling. May show very slight evidence of bank mounting folds at a corner or one light fold through the center. An AU note cannot be creased, a crease being a hard fold which has usually “broken” the surface of the note.

The paper is clean and bright with original sheen. Corners are not well rounded.

EXTREMELY FINE (“XF”): A very attractive note with light handling. May have a maximum of three light folds or one strong crease.

The paper is clean and bright with original sheen. Corners may show only the slightest evidence of rounding. There may also be the slightest sign of wear where a fold meets the edge.

VERY FINE (“VF”): An attractive note, but with more evidence of handling and wear. May have several folds both vertically and horizontally.

The paper may have minimal dirt, or possible color smudging. paper itself is still relatively crisp and not floppy.

There are no tears into the border area, although the edges do show slight wear. Corners also show wear but not full rounding.

FINE (“F”): A note which shows considerable circulation, with several folds, creases and wrinkling.

The paper is not excessively dirty but may have some softness and stains. Edges may show much handling, with minor tears in the border area. Tears may not extend into the design. There will be no center hole because of excessive folding.

Colors are clear but not very bright. A staple hole or two would not be considered unusual wear in a Fine note. Overall appearance is still on the desirable side.

VERY GOOD (“VG”): A well used note, abused but still intact. Corners may have much wear and rounding, tiny nicks, tears may extend into the design, some discoloration may be present, staining may have occurred, and a small hole may sometimes be seen at center from excessive folding.

Staple and pinholes are usually present, and the note itself is quite limp but NO pieces of the note can be missing. A note in VG condition may still have an overall not unattractive appearance.

GOOD (“G”): A well worn and heavily used note. Normal damage from prolonged circulation will include strong multiple folds and creases, stains, pinholes and/or staple holes, dirt, discoloration, edge tears, center hole, rounded corners and an overall unattractive appearance. No large pieces of the note may be missing. Graffiti or writing is commonly seen on notes in G condition.

FAIR (“FR”): A totally limp, dirty and very well used note. Larger pieces may be half torn off or missing besides the defects mentioned under the Good category. tears will be larger, obscured portions of the note will be bigger.

POOR (“P”): A “rag” with severe damage because of wear, staining, pieces missing, graffiti, larger holes. May have tape holding pieces of the note together. Trimming may have taken place to remove rough edges. A Poor note is desirable only as a “filler” or when such a note is the only one known of that particular issue.