Reference: Currency Grading



Currency Grading


Typically, good notes are collected only as a second thought, usually by people who just fancy having “some old paper money.” Good notes were usually picked out of circulation after many years. They are readily available at shops, on the Internet and coin show. To get a full type set together, it can be done even on the modest of budgets. Good notes are great if you are trying to get a child in the hobby or if you want to collect as cheap as possible.

These notes are very ragged around the edges and may have a corner or a piece of the note missing.


A very good note will have more wear and less eye appeal than a fine note, but it will lack a significant flaw that Good notes will have. Generally speaking, a very good note may be dirty but not totally trashed. For common very good notes there will not be a big price difference between the 8-15 range, so it would be advised to buy the one that has the most eye appeal over the one that may have the higher technical grade.


A note in fine grade generally has the appearance as if has been balled up for a week and then straightened back out. A fine note will have no crispiness and a leathered look or a “limp” look. Expect beat up corners and faded colors in this grade. One positive thing about a fine note is that you generally know what you are getting into, even based on a scan, if shopping on the Internet. 

It will have some folds and creases.

VERY FINE (20- 25)

When looking at a note that you think may be a low grade very fine, be sure to look for repairs and tears that may not be obvious at a casual glance. Take your time and look at the note. A low grade very fine note will tend to pancake when held in your hand; the original crispiness just will not be there. It will lay limp. When seeking rarity you may have to settle for a low grade very fine note. The average note pulled from circulation would likely grade a 20 or 25. 

This grade of note will show some wear or circulation, but no tears or heavy creases. 

VERY FINE (30 – 35)

High grade very fine notes can be a great way to get an attractive original note for a fraction of the price of the uncirculated notes. Be very cautious though, very fine notes are often subject to washing to increase their eye appeal. If you hold a raw very fine note if should feel strong and thick. It should have some crispness to it. 

This grade will have one to two folds, but NO creases. Check all the corners for sharpness.


Extremely fine notes will likely have seen very little to no actual circulation. Your standard XF note will have 3 vertical folds, usually from poor storage, or several bends it may have picked up over time. Extremely fine notes should have good color and paper quality. Often times XF notes can be made to look much better by pressing or doctoring, however, those practices are always discouraged.


About uncirculated notes may have two very light folds on the low end, to a flaw so minor that it may barely be noticeable on the high end.  AU notes most likely have not seen any real time in circulation. Most flaws will be from poor storage or handling over many years. An AU note should be all about eye appeal. One can generally enjoy a full bodied AU even margined note for less than half the cost of its gem counterpart.

This grade may have a fold or two to no folds at all. They will be very crisp.


This grade may a slight fold, but not one that runs into the main design of the note. It could also have a corner tip fold, but not much more than that for defects. These notes may also have counting marks, smudges or have been rough handled.

These notes have not seen any circulation.


These notes are the cream of the crop in currency collecting. Very few actually see this grade, especially in the older large notes. This causes these notes to command a high price when they do go on the market.

Gem Notes should defect free with no folds or distractions. Centering on these notes should be within 75% of perfect. The color and paper quality must be flawless and very bright and pronounced. A lot of currency, when printed, does not make the Gem grade due to the printing process.