PMG Paper Money Grading Scale

PMG uses a 70-point numerical scale derived from the internationally recognized Sheldon grading scale. The following descriptions show how a note’s condition is reflected by the grades assigned by PMG.

What is a 70?

PMG defines a 70 as having no evidence of handling visible at 5x magnification. Notes graded 70 must also qualify for the PMG Exceptional Paper Quality (EPQ) and PMG Star () Designations.

The PMG Grading Scale

70 Gem Unc 70 EPQ
The highest grade assigned. Notes must have no evidence of handling visible at 5x magnification. The margins and registration must appear centered to the unaided eye. Notes must qualify for the PMG Star () Designation to be graded 70.
Suberb Gem Unc 69 EPQ
This note is nearly visually indistinguishable from a 70 but the margins and registration may appear slightly off center. There is no evidence of handling visible to the unaided eye.
Superb Gem Unc 68 EPQ
The margins and registration are slightly off center. There may be very minor handling.
Superb Gem Unc 67 EPQ
A note with above-average margins and registration. There may be minor handling.
Gem Uncirculated 66 EPQ
There may be slightly more handling than a 67 EPQ note. The centering must be above average.
Gem Uncirculated 65 EPQ
The note may have one or two minor distractions as a result of minor handling. The centering must be above average.
 
Notes must qualify for PMG’s Exceptional Paper Quality (EPQ) designation to be graded 65 and higher.
 
Notes graded 25 to 64 are eligible for PMG’s EPQ designation if they meet the standards described below.
Choice Uncirculated 64
The centering is off on one or two sides. Some handling may be evident but there must be no folds in the design.
Choice Uncirculated 63
The centering is imperfect and the design may be flat. There may be several flaws but there will be no folds.
Uncirculated 62
The note is strictly uncirculated but may have minor-to-moderate handling and/or corner tip issues. There will be no folds, however. The margins may touch or come into the design.
Uncirculated 61
The note is poorly centered and the margins come into the design. There may be counting marks, smudges or other signs of handling. There will be no folds through the design.
Uncirculated 60
A note with problems that may include toned paper, a small stain or fading. There will be handling issues but there will be no folds through the design.
Choice About Unc 58
Often a note with a single fold that crosses the design.
About Uncirculated 55
This grade is commonly assigned to a note that has one fold or two to three corner folds through the design.
About Uncirculated 53
A note with two vertical folds or a single horizontal fold. May also have signs of handling.
About Uncirculated 50
The note has two heavier folds or light horizontal and vertical folds. The handling can be significant.
Choice Extremely Fine 45
A note with two to three heavy folds, one of which may be horizontal.
Extremely Fine 40
There are three or more folds, one of which may be horizontal.
Choice Very Fine 35
For years dealers and collectors called this grade “VF-XF.” This note looks Extremely Fine, but it will have four to seven light folds.
Very Fine 30
This note will be lightly circulated and may have light soiling. There will typically be seven to ten folds.
Very Fine 25
A note that shows modest evidence of circulation as well as more folds and/or soiling than a note graded 30.
Very Fine 20
The note is moderately circulated with numerous folds, mild soiling. There are no serious detractions but there may be minor defects.
Choice Fine 15
This note may look like a Very Fine note, but upon closer examination it is found to have too many folds or too much circulation to warrant a Very Fine grade.
Fine 12
The evidence of circulation is considerable with rounded corners, margin splits and other issues. The note must be whole with solid paper.
Very Good 10
A solid, whole note with lots of circulation. The note is too limp and has a number of minor problems.
Very Good 8
The note is heavily circulated but is intact. Some small pieces may be missing. Soiling, light stains or splits are common for this grade. The note is limp.
Good 6
The note is very worn with serious splits, fraying of the margins and damage.
Good 4
A very heavily circulated note with numerous problems. It is totally limp with impaired visual appeal. Notes in this grade are commonly seen with 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.

PMG Designations

In addition to the 70-point numerical grading scale, PMG uses several designations to give an additional description to select notes. These designations are Exceptional Paper Quality (EPQ), the PMG Star () Designation and NET.

EPQ
An Exceptional Paper Quality (EPQ) note is, in the opinion of PMG graders, completely original. EPQ notes will not have been physically, chemically, or materially processed to give the appearance of a higher grade. Notes exhibiting normal wear-and-tear for their grade are eligible. All notes graded Very Fine 25 and higher will be evaluated for the EPQ designation. Notes must qualify for the EPQ designation to grade Gem Uncirculated 65 and higher. For additional details, click here.
PMG 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 from PMG, notes 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 are automatically 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 is assigned irrespective of the note’s numeric grade. For example, a PMG Gem Uncirculated 65 may be at the low, middle or high end of the PMG Gem Uncirculated 65 grade.

Notes graded PMG Gem Uncirculated 70 must also qualify for the PMG Star () and EPQ Designations.
NET
A “Net” graded note is one that exhibits mishandling or problems that are more significant than one would expect for the assigned numeric grade. Notes with moderate-to-extensive circulation are expected to exhibit some problems and PMG will not assign a “Net” grade unless these issues are severe. If a note is “Net” graded, the problem will be listed. Common problems that may result in a “Net” grade include a large tear or tears into the design, PVC damage, a missing corner, an amateur repair and extensive staining or annotations. The grade guarantee does not apply to Notes given a “Net” grade by PMG. Notes with “Net” grades are guaranteed to be genuine only.

Definitions

Handling
Minor disturbances in the paper other than folds such as teller counting marks, crinkles and minor bends.
Original
Paper quality is as issued except for normal circulation.
Pedigree
A pedigree describes the current and/or past ownership of a note and PMG will list this pedigree by submitter request on the PMG certification label. PMG will pedigree notes to significant collectors or collections if sufficient documentation is provided. In addition, submitters may request to have their own name or their collection’s name listed on the PMG certification label, subject to PMG’s discretion. It is important to note that although some pedigrees to famous collectors or collections can be desirable and add value to certain notes, many pedigrees will not add any desirability or value to a note.
Registration
Alignment of the face and back printing.