Introduction to note grading
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. You can be assured that at John Pettit we rigorously apply the strictest grading standards in the world, those established by the International Bank Note Society. We are acutely aware of the importance of strict grading, and we bring all our experience to bear to ensure we get it right. Our conservative approach to grading provides peace of mind for our clients, some of whom have been dealing with us for nearly 30 years.
To facilitate communication between sellers and buyers, it is essential that grading terms and their meanings be standardised and as widely used as possible. This standardisation 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 ‘Good VF’ 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.
The following description of grading is from the International Bank Note Society and is the standard generally used by John Pettit Rare Banknotes. Some notes (such as U.S. notes) may be numerically graded by independent services, and will be identified as such.
Grades may be represented in the following manner:
|VF/EF||This style of grading indicates that the note is 'VF' on the front of the note and 'EF' on the back. Any combinations of grades may be used.|
|VF-EF||This style of grading indicates the note is graded between VF and EF. (The grades will always be adjacent on the scale of grading.)|
Many grades may be preceded by one of the following letters:
A note may therefore be graded in the following ways:
|aUNC||The note is almost Uncirculated|
|nVF||The note is nearly VF, or just below VF (there is no real difference between the useof 'a' or 'n' when indicating intermediate grades)|
|gVF||The note is slightly better than VF|
|New||New issue not yet catalogued|
|NL||Not Listed in catalogue|