Numizon relies on the reference standards of paper money. Regarding the conservation status of banknotes, we decided to use the standards of "Grading" Anglo-Saxon, now recognized and used by all collectors around the world! As our world is changing fast, we strongly recommend French collectors to look into this international classification tool. This is a digital scale invented by W.H. Sheldon, an American university professor and passionate about numismatics. This scale of value makes it possible to classify the notes in stages or "grades" of quality ranging from 70 (perfect) to 1 (very bad). In order to identify you and quickly familiarize you with all these qualities, we have made a simplified table and reduced this scale to 15 major levels of usual "Grading". We also took the opportunity to make a correspondence with the states of conservation used in France. Our benchmark is based on the "PMG Grading Scale" of the PMG (Paper Money Guaranty), an independent organization that evaluates collector's notes according to the numerical scale invented by Mr. W. Sheldon:
> Grade 70 EPQ
70 G UNC (70 Gem UNCirculated). Numizon comment: The maximum grade. The note must not show any visible manipulation at a magnification of 5x. Margins should appear centered with the naked eye. The note must obtain the designation "PMG Star" to be rated "70".
> Grades 69, 68 & 67 EPQ
69 S G UNC (Superb Gem UNCirculated), 68 S G UNC (Superb Gem UNCirculated) & 67 S G UNC (Superb Gem UNCirculated). Numizon comment: Note with a very slight decentering visible to the naked eye and / or very slight traces of manipulation ... Almost perfect!
> Grades 66 & 65 EPQ
66 G UNC (Gem UNCirculated) & 65 G UNC (Gem UNCirculated). Numizon comment: From the "65" grade, the note is automatically eligible for the"Exceptional Paper Quality"(EPQ) designation. The note already marked "63" or "64" must have a centering on the margins of at least 75% to obtain the grade "65" or "66".
> Grades 64 & 63
64 UNC (Choice UNCirculated) & 63 UNC (Choice UNCirculated). From grade "63", there is no more equivalence for the French banknotes and the quotation stops at this stage of the grading! The note has a slight decentering on 1 or 2 sides and skewed margins.
> Grades 62, 61 & 60
62 UNC (UNCirculated), 61 UNC (UNCirculated) & 60 UNC (UNCirculated). Definition of the world banknote in grade "62": it has not circulated and is perfectly preserved. Its borders can be off-center. The margins are intact and the corners perfectly angular. The paper has its brilliance, its crispness and its original colors. No creases, ripples or traces of manipulation. For grades "60" and "61", slight counting marks or a counting fold are accepted.
> Grades 58, 55 & 53
58 AU+ (Choice About Uncirculated) & 55 AU & 53 AU (About Uncirculated). Numizon comment: The note in"58" grade has a slight vertical fold. The note in "55" grade has a vertical fold or two to three counting marks. The note in "53" grade may have two slight vertical folds or a single horizontal fold and signs of tampering.
> Grades 50 & 45
50 AU+ (Choice About Uncirculated) & 45 XF+ (Choice Extremely Fine). Numizon comment: The note in "45" grade is a very beautiful "XF" banknote with only two pins or a pin and a slight crease. This note is very close to the "50" grade!
> Grade 40
40 XF (Extremely Fine). Numizon comment: The banknote of the world in "40" grade circulated but keeps all its crunch of origin. It has counting traces and two vertical and horizontal folds are tolerated. He has no dirt.
> Grades 35 & 30
35 VF+ (Choice Very Fine) & 30 VF (Very Fine). Numizon comment: The notes in "30" or "35" grades come with three or four well marked folds. The paper is firm and stands better but still bears clear traces of circulation and numerous pinning.
> Grades 25 & 20
25 VF (Very Fine) & 20 VF (Very Fine). Numizon comment: The banknote in "20" grade is in good condition, but with marks of handling and wear. A certain number of vertical and / or horizontal folds are to be counted. The note can have a minimum of dirt or″past colors″. The paper is still crisp. There are no rips around the edges, although these may have slight wear. The corners also show a state of wear, but are not completely rounded.
> Grade 15
15 F+ (Choice Fine). Numizon comment: The difference between a nice F grade and a Almost Very Fine note is tiny. It is quite easy at this stage to get the note in the higher category!
> Grade 12
12 F (Fine). Numizon comment: The note in "12" grade has heavy traffic marks with many folds and wrinkles. The paper is not too dirty, but seems soft in the hand. Margins show a large number of handling traces with minimal tears. There may be a central hole in the middle of the note. The colors are still clear. The note keeps a pretty good appearance.
> Grades 10 & 8
10 VG (Very Good) & 8 VG (Very Good). Numizon comment: A note graded "10" grade is whole but a lot of circulated. This one remains soft in hand and presents a number of minor problems. A note graded "8" to much circulated. Some parts of the note may be missing. Dirt, light spots or cracks are common. The bill is soft in hand.
> Grades 6 & 4
6 G (Good) & 4 G (Good). Numizon comment: The note has multiple traces of circulation, many missing parts and tears. The note is soft with dirt, many pinning and folds. The note remains however perfectly identifiable.
> Grades 3 & 1
3 FR (FaiR) & 1 PR (PooR). Numizon comment: A note with a grade lower than "4" must not be collected unless it is very rare or of historical interest.
As a reminder here are some examples of quotations proposed by some reference works:
- The PICK offers rating in "VG", "VF" and "UNC" grades in the "Standard Catalog of World Money Paper, General Issues (1368-1960)" and offers rating in "VF" and "UNC" grades in the "Standard Catalog of World Money Paper (1961 - present)".
- Owen W. Linzmayer and his catalogs "The Banknote Book" (TBB) offers ratings from "VG", "VF" and "UNC" grades.
- In France, the reference is the catalog "La cote des billets", edition 2019 by MM. Claude Fayette and Jean-Marc Dessal. The book proposes ratings for 6 states of preservation: "B", "TB", "TTB", "SUP", "SPL" and "NEUF", the English equivalent of "VG", "F", "VF", "XF", "AU" and "UNC"!