© Copyright 1995-2022, Clay Irving <clay@panix.com>

Grading Paper Money

Grading paper money is a subjective art — It is mix of technical and asthetics, and the final assessment is an individual's own opinion. Some of the many grades commonly seen are presented below. Professional third-party grading services use a slightly modified version of the Seldon Scale developed by Dr. William Sheldon in 1949 — It is a scale of 1 to 70 with 70 being a "Perfect New" note and "1" being a really poor note.

Grade Variations
Instead of the 1 to 70 scale that professional third-party grading services use, some people (including IBNS) use a descriptive scale:

Some people will split grades when grading a note — For example, VG-F means the note is graded between "very good" and "fine".

Some people will use a plus sign, "+", to designate that the grade is slightly above a grade, but not quite to the next grade. For example, if a note should be classified between XF and AU, it can be given a grade of XF+ or XF++. A note with a grade of XF+ should be located in the middle of XF and AU on a graduated line while a note with a grade of XF++ should be very near the AU boundary mark.

Additional Terminology for Paper Quality

Grades

Grading Chart

 

 

UNC
AU
EF
VF
F
VG
G
Fair
Poor
Uncirculated
About Uncirculated
Extremely Fine
Very Fine
Fine
Very Good
Good
Fair
Poor

Edges

no counting marks
light counting folds or...
light counting folds
corners are not fully rounded
much handling on edges
rounded edges

Folds

no folds
...or one light fold through center
max. three light folds or one strong crease
several horizontal and vertical folds
many folds and creases

Paper

color

paper is clean with bright colors
paper may have minimal dirt or some color smudging, but still crisp
paper is not excessively dirty, but may have some softness
paper may be dirty, discolored or stained
very dirty, discolored and with some writing
very dirty, discolorated, with writing and some obscured portions
very dirty, discolored, with writing and obscured portions

Tears

no tears
no tears into the border
minor tears in the border, but out of design
tears into the design

Holes

no holes
no center hole, but staple hole usual
center hole and staple hole

Integrity

no pieces missing
no large pieces missing
piece missing
piece missing or tape holding pieces together

Grading Services

References