We use, whenever possible the IBNS grading standards (see below) to assist in describing the condition of our bank notes.If we are unsure of a notes condition we will always grade down rather than up.
Occasionally you may also see a ‘plus’ sign after the grade. We use this to show were a note is better than the nearest grade, but not good enough to be raised to the next grade.
IBNS GRADING STANDARDS FOR WORLD PAPER MONEY
UNCIRCULATED: - UNC. A perfectly preserved, note never mishandled by the issuing authority, a bank teller, the public or a collector. Paper is clean and firm, without discoloration. Corners are sharp and square, without any evidence of rounding, (Rounded corners are often tell tale sign of a cleaned or ‘doctored’ note,). An un-circulated note will have its original natural sheen.
Due to the inclusion of wide security foils in some modern notes, crimps appear at the top and bottom edge during production or counting. Thus notes, which are un-circulated, have a crimp. Examples without these crimps are beginning to command a premium.
NOTE: Some note issues are most often available with slight evidence of counting folds that do not ‘break’ the paper. Also, French-printed notes usually have a slight ripple in the paper. Many collectors and dealers refer to such notes as AU-UNC
ABOUT UNCIRCULATED: - a UNC. A virtually perfect note with some minor handling. May show very slight evidence of bank counting folds at a corner or one light fold through the centre, but not both. An AU note cannot be creased, a crease being a hard fold, which has usually ‘broken’ the surface of a note. Paper is clean and bright with original sheen. Corners are not rounded.
NOTE: Europeans will refer to an about Un-circulated or a UNC note as ‘EF-UNC’ or as just ‘EF’. The extremely fine, note described below will often be referred to as ‘GVF’ or ‘Good Very Fine’,
EXTREMELY FINE: - EF. A very attractive note, with only light handling. May have a maximum of three light folds or one strong crease. The body of the note may also show signs of handling. 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 a number of folds both vertically and horizontally. Paper may have minimal dirt, or possible colour 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: - Fine. A note, which shows considerable circulation and with many folds, creases and wrinkling. Paper is not excessively dirty, but may have some softness. Edges may show much handling with minor tears in the border area. Tears may not extend into the design. There will be no centre hole because of excessive folding. Colours are clear but not 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 be seen at the centre 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, centre hole, rounded comers and an overall unattractive appearance. No large pieces of the note may be missing. Graffiti is commonly seen on notes in Good condition.
FAIR: - Fair. A totally limp, dirty and very well used note. Larger pieces may be half torn off or missing, beside 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 sticky tape holding pieces of the note together. Trimming may have taken place to remove rough edges. A poor note is only desirable as filler or when such a note is the only one known of that particular issue.