|IBNS Membership Directory|
The PDF edition of the 2016 IBNS Membership Directory is now available from the Members Area.
|IBNS Journal 55-3|
Includes articles on Nicolae Grigorescu, Elbasan, British Circular Notes, B. L. & P., Sun Yat San and Banknote Numbering. Login to download your copy.
|IBNS Grading Standards|
|Grading Guide - Uncirculated|
|Grading Guide - About Uncirculated|
|Grading Guide - Extremely Fine|
|Grading Guide - Very Fine|
|Grading Guide - Fine|
|Grading Guide - Very Good|
|Grading Guide - Good|
|Grading Guide - Fair|
|Grading Guide - Poor|
Grading is the most controversial component of paper money collecting today. Small differences in grade can mean significant differences in value. The process of grading is so subjective and dependant on external influences such as lighting, that even a very experienced individual may well grade the same note differently on separate occasions,
To facilitate communication between sellers and buyers, it is essential that grading terms and their meanings be standardized and as widely used as possible. This standardization should reflect common usage as much as practicable. One difficulty with grading is that even the actual grades themselves are not used every place and by everyone. For example, in Europe the grade “About Uncirculated” (AU) is not in general use, yet in North America it is widespread. The European term “GoodVF” may roughly correspond to what individuals in North America would call “EF”
The grades and definitions as set forth below cannot reconcile all the various systems and grading terminology variants. Rather, the attempt is made here to try and diminish the controversy with some common sense grades and definitions that aim to give more precise meaning to the grading language of paper money.
In order to ascertain the grade of a note, it is essential to examine it out of a holder and under a good light. Move the note around so that the light bounces off at different angles. Try holding it up obliquely so that the note is almost even with your eye as you look up at the light. Hard-to-see folds or slight creases will show up under such examination. Some individuals also lightly feel along the surface of the note to detect creasing.
Cleaning, washing or pressing paper money is generally harmful and reduces both the grade and the value of a note. At the very least, a washed or pressed note may lose its original sheen and its surface may become lifeless and dull. The defects a note had, such as folds and creases, may not necessarily be completely eliminated and their telltale marks can be detected under a good light. Carelessly washed notes may have white streaks where the folds or creases were (or still are).
Glue, tape, or pencil marks may sometimes be successfully removed. While such removal will have a cleaned surface, it will improve the overall appearance of the note without concealing any of its defects. Under such circumstances, the grade of the note may also be improved.
The words “pinholes”, “staple holes”, “trimmed”, “writing on face”, “tape marks”, etc. should always be added to the description of a note. It is realized that certain countries routinely staple their notes together in groups before issue. In such cases, the description can include a comment such as “usual staple holes” or something similar. After all, not everyone knows that such-and-such a note cannot be found otherwise.
The major point of this section is that one cannot lower the overall grade of a note with defects simply because of the defects. The price will reflect the lowered worth of a defective note, but the description must always include the specific defects.
The word “Uncirculated”: is used in this grading guide only as a qualitative measurement of the appearance of a note. It has nothing at all to do with whether or not an issuer has actually released the note to circulation. Thus the term “About Uncirculated” is justified and acceptable because so many notes that have never seen hand-to-hand use have been mishandled so that they are available in, at best, AU condition. Either a note is uncirculated in condition or it not; there can be no degree of uncirculated. Highlights or defects in color, centering and the like may be included in the description but the fact that a note is or is not in uncirculated condition should not be a disputable point