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Understanding Paper Money Grading

Understanding Paper Money Grading

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The art of paper money grading is a fascinating one, requiring skill, experience, and a keen eye for detail. Let's explore this topic and gain a deeper understanding of what it entails. 


Why is Paper Money Grading Important?

Value Determination

Paper money grading is a critical process for numismatists—those who study or collect currency—as it helps ascertain the worth of their banknotes. This practice employs a numerical scale from 1 to 70 to grade paper money. A higher grade implies a greater value, with 70 being the pinnacle of quality.

Distinguishing Authentic Notes from Counterfeit

Grading also assists in verifying the authenticity of a banknote. It's not solely about defining a note's market value; it serves as a safeguard against counterfeit currency.

Explore the value of our graded PMG collection for sale.

Common Currency Grades

List of Grades

While grading might be subjective, with some variations among collectors, commonly acknowledged grades include:

  • Poor
  • Good
  • Very Good
  • Fine
  • Extremely Fine
  • About Uncirculated
  • Choice Uncirculated
  • Gem Uncirculated

Decoding the Numerical Grading System


High-Grade Notes

On the PMG paper money grading scale, a note scoring 70, dubbed "Gem Uncirculated," implies the note exhibits no handling evidence even under high magnification. If it meets all grading criteria, it earns a 70 Star Exceptional Paper Quality (EPQ) label, signifying superior quality and rarity.

Mid-Grade Notes

For a 69 EPQ, while the quality remains exceptional, slight centering or registration flaws differentiate it from a 70. A note with a 68 EPQ may exhibit minimal handling signs, while a 67 EPQ may display slightly more apparent handling signs.

Low-Grade Notes

On the other end of the scale, a note rated 1 indicates significant usage, resulting in a diminished value and "Poor" grading. Therefore, the lower the grade, the more apparent the note's usage.

Understanding "Superp Gems"

What Makes a Note a Superp Gem?

Superp Gems refer to notes graded 67, 68, or 69 EPQ. These high-rated notes bear close resemblance to Gem Uncirculated (70), with minor differences like slight handling signs or slight off-center registration.

Unraveling "Gems Uncirculated"

Defining Traits of Gems Uncirculated

Notes with a 66 or 65 EPQ rating fall into the category of "Gems Uncirculated." They may display obvious handling signs and above-average centering.

Comprehending "Choice Uncirculated"

Features of Choice Uncirculated

Notes graded 64 and 63 EPQ are termed "Choice Uncirculated." Imperfect centering and handling signs are common in these notes, which, unlike their higher-graded counterparts, do not show any folding signs.

What Does "Uncirculated" Mean?

Identifying Traits of Uncirculated Notes

Grades 62, 61, and 60 EPQ qualify as "Uncirculated." These notes may exhibit counting smudges, minor stains, or small issues with the tips but bear no folds.

Other PMG Grading Guide Designations

EPQ (Exceptional Paper Quality)

The EPQ designation indicates the note has not undergone any material or chemical refining to enhance its appearance.

PMG Star

The PMG Star is awarded to notes showcasing superior quality paper, ink, and overprint. All notes submitted to PMG are evaluated for the Star designation.


Notes exhibiting extensive issues, despite their grade, are marked as "Net" along with a note indicating the reasons.

Currency Grading Summary

Currency grading is a nuanced process that goes beyond numerical scores and basic categories. Understanding it can open doors to a whole new world of collecting and trading. With this guide, you're well on your way to becoming a more informed collector or trader. You can find banknotes of all these grades in our PMG collection for sale.


  1. What does a note's grade indicate?
    The grade of a note indicates its condition and, consequently, its value. The higher the grade, the higher the note's value.

  2. Why is paper money grading important?
    Paper money grading is essential for determining the authenticity and market value of banknotes.

  3. What is the difference between "Choice Uncirculated" and "Gems Uncirculated?" The primary differences lie in centering and visible handling signs. Gems Uncirculated notes have above-average centering and visible handling signs, while Choice Uncirculated notes have imperfect centering and visible handling signs but no folding signs.

  4. What does an EPQ designation mean?
    EPQ (Exceptional Paper Quality) signifies that the note has not been materially or chemically enhanced to improve its appearance.

  5. What is a PMG Star?
    A PMG Star is given to notes exhibiting exceptional paper, ink, and overprint quality.