PMG PAPER MONEY GRADING SCALE

Glossary

PMG uses a 70-point numerical scale derived from the Sheldon numerical scale. The following descriptions show how a note’s condition accords to the grades assigned by PMG.

Numeric Grades

Adjectival Grades

Description

70 Seventy Gem Unc The highest grade assigned. Notes have 50/50 margins and registration, and no handling.
69 Superb Gem Unc This note may be nearly visually indistinguishable from a 70; however, margins or registration just minutely off. No handling.
68 Superb Gem Unc Margins or registration are off slightly to the naked eye. No significant handling.
67 Superb Gem Unc Great color and eye appeal. A well-centered original note. May have very minor handling.
66 Gem Uncirculated Above average original note held back from superb quality due to handling and / or margins and registration.
65 Gem Uncirculated Strictly original note with great color and eye appeal. May have one or two minor distractions. Centering is above average.
64 EPQ Choice Uncirculated Original paper quality, but centering is off on one or two sides.
64 Choice Uncirculated Note is well-centered and shows signs of alteration (for example, pressing or re-embossing, etc.). No folds in design.
63 EPQ Choice Uncirculated Original but margins are “tight” on one or two sides. Good eye appeal.
63 Choice Uncirculated Imperfect centering. No folds in design. May be flat and have a flaw or two.
62 Uncirculated Strictly uncirculated note that lacks some eye appeal. May have “tight” margins, handling or corner tip issues.
61 Uncirculated Usually poorly centered and margins are touching the design. May have counting marks, smudges, pinholes or other problems.
60 Uncirculated A note with problems that result in diminished eye appeal (i.e. toned paper, small stain, fading, etc.), but no folds through the design.
58 EPQ Choice About Unc Premium grade note. May look like higher grade, but unfortunately, has a single vertical fold or one to two light corner folds.
58 Choice About Unc Often a note with a single fold that has been pressed or re-embossed to hide the fold.
55 EPQ About Uncirculated Two light vertical folds or a single fold with handling, but a nice original note.
55 About Uncirculated This grade is commonly assigned to a note with one or two folds that has been pressed. Note may have been re-embossed.
53 About Uncirculated No more than two vertical folds or a single horizontal fold, but folds are too heavy for a higher grade.
50 About Uncirculated Two heavier folds, or a light horizontal and vertical fold. Handling can be significant.
45 EPQ Choice Extremely Fine Usually a note with three light vertical folds that may look much higher grade, especially when note has little evidence of handling.
45 Choice Extremely Fine Many of the same qualities as above, but note is not original. Common alterations include attempts to diminish the appearance of folds.
40 Extremely Fine Three folds, one of which may be horizontal. Little, if any, circulation.
35 Choice Very Fine For years dealers and collectors called this grade “VF-XF.” This note looks Extremely Fine, but may have four to five light folds. Original examples (EPQ) will usually be attractive with little actual circulation.
30 Very Fine Still crisp, but may show a bit of circulation or light soiling. May have several light folds.
25 Very Fine A circulated note with good eye appeal, but has too many folds or too much soiling for a higher Very Fine grade.
20 Very Fine Moderate circulation with numerous folds, mild soiling but no serious detractions. A solid note but may have a minor defect.
15 Choice Fine Looks like a Very Fine, but may have too many folds or too much circulation to warrant a full Very Fine.
12 Fine Considerable circulation, rounded corners, pinholes, minor margin splits may be present, but the note will be whole with solid paper.
10 Very Good A solid, whole note with lots of circulation. Too limp or too many minor problems to make a fine grade.
8 Very Good Heavy circulation. Note is intact with no pieces missing. Soiling, light stains, splits or a missing corner tip are common for this grade. Note is limp.
6 Good Very worn, serious splits, fraying of the margins and minor damage is evident.
4 Good Very heavily circulated note with numerous small problems. Totally limp with impaired visual appeal. Commonly seen with small pieces missing.

Grades under 4 Good are generally not collectible unless the note is rare. Most notes at these grade levels are “Net” graded due to major problems.

Definitions

EPQ An Exceptional Paper Quality (EPQ) note is, in the opinion of PMG graders, original and has not been physically, chemically, or materially processed to lend the appearance of a higher grade. Notes exhibiting normal wear-and-tear for their grade are eligible. For currency to grade GEM Uncirculated 65 or higher it must receive the EPQ designation. For complete details click here.
PMG Star (star) Designation PMG assigns the PMG Star Designation to notes with exceptional eye appeal for their assigned grade.

While eye appeal is one of the most subjective characteristics of notes, there are general standards which numismatists typically use to define exceptional eye appeal. To receive a star from PMG, banknotes must exhibit exceptionally strong plate and / or overprint embossing, vibrant ink color, and pristine paper quality exceeding the well-established standards used to determine the Exceptional Paper Quality (EPQ) Designation.

All US and world notes will automatically be evaluated for the distinction of the PMG Star Designation. Notes that do not qualify for the EPQ Designation will be disqualified from receiving the Star Designation.

It is important to note that the star is assigned irrespective of the banknote’s numeric grade. For example, a PMG Gem Uncirculated 65star may be at the low end, middle or high end of the PMG Gem Uncirculated 65 grade.

Any notes graded PMG Gem Uncirculated 70 grade must also qualify for the PMG Star and EPQ Designations.
Handling Minor disturbances in the paper other than folds such as teller counting marks, crinkles and minor bends.
NET A “Net” graded note is one which has had an adverse occurrence after it was printed. PMG will specifically state the reason(s) why any note is “Net” graded. A few typical examples of why a note may be “Net” graded are tear, corner missing, repaired, washed, stained, ink or writing, and PVC damage. Only the Genuineness Guarantee portion of the PMG Guarantee applies to Notes given a “Net” grade by PMG.
Original Paper quality is as issued except for normal circulation.
Pedigree The “pedigree” field on the label of a certified note may be used to indicate the collection name but it is not specifically designated for highlighted collections typically referred to as “pedigrees.” Many collectors like to have their names tied to their collections and, while this is allowed, not just anything may be put on the label / holder. It should also be noted that although this field may add value to certain notes, it is not the primary purpose of the field.
Registration Alignment of the face and back printing.

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