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KD Paper Money Grading 101

The Grading of paper money is a very important aspect of dealing with High Denomination Notes. Whether you are buying for a collection or just trying to determine what the value of a given note is. Very small and seemingly insignificant features such as a small corner fold or a slight, almost undetectable wrinkle, could result in a substantial reduction, in the overall value of a note. Click to see a side by side comparison of PMG & PCGS Currency's grading scale.

We are authorized dealers for PMG and PCGS Currency. We're happy to send your notes in for grading. If you need packaging material (to send us your notes for grading or for appraisal and purchase) we will send you packaging material at our expense. We do this as a service to our customers. Not everyone has the proper packaging material to ensure the safety and integrity of your items. Simply call or send us an email with your mailing address and we'll ship them out right away.

Most of this page is information about grading. The bottom of this page is dedicated to Get Your Notes Graded.

Horizontal/Vertical Folds

image of bill with folds

Does the note have a horizontal or vertical crease from being folded in half? To check, hold the note up to a back light.

Corner Folds

image of bill with corner crease

Have the corners of the note been folded or have creases on them? To check, hold the note up to a back light.


image of bill with pin holes

Are there tiny pinholes in the note? To check, hold the note up to a back light.

Equal Margins

image of bill with equal margins

Are the margins equal around the note? - front and back. The margin is the portion of the note between the edge, and the printed area.

 Paper Money Grading Terminology

The words rips, tears, pinholes, writing, bank stamps, rust, staple holes, trimmed, writing on face, tape marks, etc. should always be added to the description of a note. Stating this does not necessarily lower the overall grade of the note. The final price will usually reflect the downgraded worth of the defective note. The description, as a matter of fairness and honesty, should always include the specific defects.

 Things to Remember

Use this page as a guide when writing up the descriptions for your notes so that the note's rating is fair, accurate, and will disclose the notes true quality. Make sure you go through the check list of defects so that you don't miss items that aren't immediately visible to the eye. We believe in using WYSIWYG or What You See Is What You Get to explain any issues associated with a note. That way, there aren't any surprises.

Paper Money Grades

Uncirculated ("UNC") 60 - 70

A perfectly preserved note, crisp, full color, no stains, never mishandled by the issuing authority, a bank teller, the general public or a collector. The paper is clean and firm, without discoloration. Corners are sharp and square, without any evidence of rounding. (Rounded corners are often a tell-tale sign of a cleaned, reconditioned, or "doctored" note.) An uncirculated note will have it's original, natural printing or paper sheen. NOTE: Some notes are most often available with slight evidence of very light counting folds which do not "break" the paper. Typically NO FOLD notes. Technically up to a 64 CAN have a fold OUTSIDE the design.

About Uncirculated ("AU") 50, 53, 55, 58

A virtually perfect note, with some minor handling. May show very slight evidence of bank counting folds at a corner or one light fold through the center. An AU note cannot be creased, a crease being a hard fold which has usually "broken" the surface of the note. The paper is clean and bright with original sheen. Corners are sharp (not well rounded). An AU note CAN be a NO FOLD note (although atypical). Typically AU notes are Single Fold, but there is a two fold max. Remember, folds OUTSIDE the design, don't actually count as folds (technically).

Extremely Fine ("XF") 40, 45

A very attractive note with light handling. May have a maximum of three light folds or one strong crease. The paper is clean and bright with original sheen. Corners may show only the slightest evidence of rounding. There may also be the slightest sign of wear where a fold meets the edge. A classic 3 fold XF note has one in the center and two at the quarter folds (just like you would imagine folding a note in half and then again in half leaving "quarter" marks.)

Very Fine ("VF") 20, 25, 30, 35

An attractive note, but with more evidence of handling and wear. May have several folds both vertically and horizontally. The paper may have minimal dirt, or possible color smudging, paper itself is still relatively crisp and not floppy. There are no tears into the border area, although the edges do show slight wear. Corners also show wear but not full rounding.

Fine ("F") 12, 15

A note which shows considerable circulation, with several folds, creases and wrinkling. The paper is not excessively dirty but may have some softness and stains. Edges may show much handling, with minor tears in the border area. Tears may not extend into the design. There will be no center hole because of excessive folding. Colors are clear but not very bright. A staple hole or two would not be considered unusual wear in a Fine note. Overall appearance is still on the desirable side.

Very Good ("VG") 8, 10

A well used note, abused but still intact. Corners may have much wear and rounding, tiny nicks, tears may extend into the design, some discoloration may be present, staining may have occurred, and a small hole may sometimes be seen at center from excessive folding. Staple and pinholes are usually present, and the note itself is quite limp but NO pieces of the note can be missing. A note in VG condition may still have an overall not unattractive appearance.

Good ("G") 4, 6

A well worn and heavily used note. Normal damage from prolonged circulation will include strong multiple folds and creases, stains, pinholes and/or staple holes, dirt, discoloration, edge tears, center hole, rounded corners and an overall unattractive appearance. No large pieces of the note may be missing. Graffiti or writing is commonly seen on notes in G condition.

About Good ("AG") 3

Typically extremely worn and may be missing pieces including some in meaningful sections of the design. Holes, stains, tears, splits, and other problems will likely present. In our opinion, there's not a lot of difference in value once the grade falls below fine... of course there may be exception to this.

Fair ("FR") 2

A totally limp, dirty and very well used note. Larger pieces may be half torn off or missing besides the defects mentioned under the Good category. Tears will be larger, obscured portions of the note will be bigger.

Poor ("P") 1

A "rag" with severe damage because of wear, staining, pieces missing, graffiti, larger holes. May have tape holding pieces of the note together. Trimming may have taken place to remove rough edges. A Poor note is desirable only as a "filler" or when such a note is the only one known of that particular issue.

Get Your Notes Graded

We are authorized dealers for PCGS Currency and PMG. It's really simple, you send us your notes (and payment), we get them graded and we send them back to you. Everyone always asks, "Well how much does it cost?" The answer is always, "It depends." It depends on the dollar value of your note(s), how quickly you want them graded and returned. The best thing to do, is call and discuss it. The reality is, the shipping and insurance is the same (for most orders) whether you have one or 20 notes. Packages over $25,000 value may have a higher insurance rate.

Ship your notes to our PO Box (visible at bottom of all pages on our web site) via USPS (THAT'S THE POST OFFICE, NOT Fed Ex, Not UPS, Not DHL... are we clear?) Priority Mail Express Flat Rate Envelope with Signature Required.. The envelope is free from the Post Office. Express shipping is about $20 (19.95 as of Jan 2015), the signature required is free but you MUST CHECK THE BOX on the form (whether you print a label online OR use the red, white, blue form from the PO) or they won't require the signature. Why is the signature so important? There is only ONE person that can sign for the package... Daren. I'm the D in KD. Insurance requires the packages to be signature required as well!

If you need more information, call, text, email, telegram (ha ha ha, had to throw in some humor for you), what ever works for you!

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