Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Banknote Grading


In order to determine the grade of a banknote, it is important the examination of the banknote to be done without any holder and under good lighting. Move the banknote around so that light bounces off at different angles. Hold up the banknote obliquely, so that the banknote is even with your eyes and look up against the light. Obscure folds or light creases will show up under such examination. Creasing can also be detected by lightly touch your finger along the surface of the banknote.


Cleaning, washing or pressing banknotes is damaging and such activities reduce both the grade and value of the banknote. A washed or pressed banknote will lose its original sheen and its surface becomes dull and pale. The defects of a banknote, such as folds and creases, may not necessarily be completely eliminated and tell tale marks can be detected by conducting the examination recommended above. Careless washed banknotes may also have white streaks where folds.


Uncirculated (UNC)
A perfectly preserved banknote, never mishandled by the issuing authority, a bank teller, the public or a collector. The paper is clean and firm without discoloration. Corners are sharp and square without any evidence of rounding. Some banknotes are often issued with sight evidence of light counting folds, which do not break the paper.

About Uncirculated (AU)
A virtually perfect banknote, with some minor handling. May show very slight evidence of bank counting folds at the corner or center of the banknote or one light fold running through the center, but not both. An AU banknote cannot creased, a crease being a hard fold which break the surface of the banknote. Paper is clean and bright with original sheen. Corners are not rounded.

Extremely Fine (EF)
A very good attractive banknote, with light handling. May have a maximum of three light folds or one strong crease. Paper is clean and firm, without discoloration. Corners are sharp and square without any evidence of rounding.

Very Fine (VF)
An attractive banknote, but the more evidence of handling and wear. May have several folds bath vertically and horizontally. Paper may have minimal dirt, or possible color smudging. Paper itself is still relatively crisp and note floppy. There are not tears into the border area, although the edges do show some slight wear. Corners are show wear but not full rounding

Fine (F)
A banknote that shows considerable circulation, with many folds, crease 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 extend into design. There will be no center hole because of excessive folding. Colors are clear but not very bright. A staple hole or two would be considered unusual wear in a Fine banknote. Overall appearance is still on the desirable side.

Very Good (VG)
A well-used banknote, 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 banknote itself is quite limp but no pieces of the banknote can be missing. A banknote in VG condition may still have an overall but unattractive appearance.

A well-worn and heavily used banknote. 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 banknote may be missing. Graffiti is still commonly seen on banknotes in G condition.

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


izman said...

Very informative and suitable for collectors as their guide.

Anonymous said...

Good guide in general for all banknote collectors. One question for you Jack. How would you grade a relatively scarce and old banknote that appears UNC but has a minor tear at one of its corners, not extending into its overall design or print margin? Thanks and regards.

Jack Hoo said...

If it is a rare piece of an old banknote, I would still grade it as UNC or AU because of its scarcity.

tac2255 said...

Good and informative guide for us to grade a banknote.

Anonymous said...

Very informative, thank you.

I have in my possession a RM5 error note in which the reverse side is blank. It belongs to a relative who was a former bank teller.

The signature on the note which has some creases but is in perfect condition, is of BN Governor Ahmad Mohd Don.

The owner would part with it at a good price.

Anonymous said...

V informative. Thank you.

Error RM5 note (Reverse side blank) belonging to former bank teller to part with at good price.

Except for some creases, note with signature of BNM Governor Ahmad Mohd Don, is in good condition.

Jack Hoo said...

Anonymous, you may want to share with us the error note and your contact in case any party interested with your note.

coolmaster said...

I got a question, should we press our new notes? or just let it be original? most original notes come with some "wave" surface.

Jack Hoo said...

An UNC note shouldn't be pressed. Let it be original.

cwcc said...

I found a couple of bank notes and coins when I was cleaning out my parents old things.I was wondering if I could send you the pictures of them and have you estimate if they are collect's worth and how much can I sell them for in the market?