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 PCGS & PMG Grading Scales (as of 5/25/13)

Below you'll find each grade with its respective description. This will assist you in determining the quality of the notes in your collection and future note purchases.

Grade PCGS Currency PMG
70 The "70" grade is essentially a perfect note. The note will be entirely original, with broad, perfectly even margins on all four sides, sharp corners, bright colors, outstanding eye appeal, and literally perfect paper quality with no trace of even the smallest fault. Perhaps only the most modern notes will attain this grade, and even then it will be a rare occurrence. The highest grade assigned. Notes have 50/50 margins and registration, and no handling.
69 A "69" will be nearly as perfect as a "70", but some very minor fault such as a barely measurable imperfection in the centering or a tiny, almost unnoticeable crinkle in the paper will keep such a note from absolute perfection. This note may be nearly visually indistinguishable from a 70; however, margins or registration just minutely off. No handling.
68 A "68" is basically as nice and as close to perfection as a "69", but a minor fault may be present, including a tiny handling mark, an edge bump, or a very small counting crinkle. Otherwise, a "68" will be flawless, with excellent centering, bold colors, excellent eye appeal, and full originality. Despite the mention here of trivial flaws, one should remember that a "68" is an essentially perfect note. It is the highest grade that can reasonably be expected for many series, including most large size type notes. Margins or registration are off slightly to the naked eye. No significant handling.
67 A "67" will be the highest possible grade for many series, as even most essentially perfect notes will sometimes reveal a minor fault upon close examination. A "67" should have broad margins for the issue, with centering that is nearly perfect to the naked eye. The colors and eye appeal should be bold and attractive, and the originality should be unquestionable. Bold embossing (where applicable) must be evident. One or more tiny handling marks may be present, an edge or corner bump may be noted, or there may be a tiny counting crinkle evident, but any fault that is distracting to the naked eye or that detracts from the overall appearance will prohibit a note from attaining the Superb grade. Great color and eye appeal. A well-centered original note. May have very minor handling.
66 This grade level signifies a note that is superior to an "average" Gem note, but that can’t quite reach the Superb level because of some minor fault such as a counting crinkle, handling mark, or corner bump. A "66" may have terrific centering but just not the broad margins of a Superb grade, or it may be a broadly margined example that is just a tiny bit off center. A "66" should retain full originality, although the embossing may not be quite as strong as on a Superb Gem. The colors and eye appeal should still be well above average. Above average original note held back from superb quality due to handling and / or margins and registration.
65 A Gem note is one that at first glance appears perfect. After examination, however, one or more minor faults may be noticed that keep the note from attaining a higher grade. Such minor faults may include a counting crinkle, minor edge handling, faint handling marks or finger smudges, or very minor rounding of the corners. The centering should be well above average, although minor imperfections in the centering are permissible if the margins are broad. Embossing may or may not be present, but notes at this grade level will not receive the "PPQ" label if they are not fully original. An otherwise Superb note that has been pressed or is flat with no embossing may receive a "65" grade without the "PPQ" modifier. Notes in this and any New grade will, of course, have absolutely no folds or bends. It should be stressed that although notes at this grade will (by definition) be less than perfect, they will still be above average notes that may appear to the average viewer to be pristine. Strictly original note with great color and eye appeal. May have one or two minor distractions. Centering is above average.
64 "64" is an intermediate grade reserved for notes that are better than Choice New but that don’t quite reach the Gem grade. Such notes may have minor faults such as a couple of unobtrusive counting marks, ink or handling smudges, a single pinhole, or a rounded corner tip. The centering or margins will be better than average but may fall just short of that required for the Gem grade. It will still be an above average note, should have good eye appeal, and should not have any major blemishes or faults that are readily evident. A note at this grade level that receives the "PPQ" designation will likely have margins or centering that are slightly narrow or off center, but will possess complete originality. 64 EPQ: Original paper quality, but centering is off on one or two sides. 64: Note is well-centered and shows signs of alteration (for example, pressing or re-embossing, etc.). No folds in design.
63 A Choice note will be strictly New, with no folds or bends that indicate circulation. The paper quality and eye appeal will be slightly above average for the issue, and any flaws present will be minor in nature. Imperfect centering is acceptable at this grade level, although any note with severe centering problems (with the design of the note touching the edge at one or more margins) cannot attain this grade. Counting crinkles or handling marks are acceptable, as is a frayed corner or two. One or two pinholes may be present. No folds or bends may reach into the design of the paper, although a light corner bend that does not extend into the design may be present. A note that otherwise appears Gem New but has flat paper surfaces may merit this grade. Complete originality is again required for the "PPQ" designation, although at this grade level some other problem such as poor centering or minor handling will be present. 63 EPQ: Original but margins are "tight" on one or two sides. Good eye appeal. 63: Imperfect centering. No folds in design. May be flat and have a flaw or two.
62 A note at this grade level will remain fully New with no folds or bends, but a couple of corner folds that do not reach into the design may be present. Counting crinkles and handling marks are acceptable, as long as they are not overly distracting. A partial bend or pinch that does not extend through the entire width of the note may cause it to be designated a "62" or lower. A note with severe centering problems may fall into this grade, as may notes with flat paper surfaces or minor paper toning. Strictly uncirculated note that lacks some eye appeal. May have "tight" margins, handling or corner tip issues.
61 Most notes that fall into this grade will do so because of a combination of faults, some of which may be severe. Corner folds (not into the design) may be present, as may signs of paper toning, handling, counting marks, smudges, pinholes, or other problems. A "61" will typically either be poorly centered with other minor faults, or will be a technically New note with no folds but that has a combination of minor faults that prevent a higher grade. Usually poorly centered and margins are touching the design. May have counting marks, smudges, pinholes or other problems.
60 A "60" note will remain strictly uncirculated with absolutely no folds or bends that extend into the design. Notes at this grade level typically will have one or more significant faults that detract from the note's appearance, such as slight loss of color, paper toning, minor foxing, two or more corner folds, flat and lifeless paper, pinholes, or a small staining spot or two. Any note with a major problem will be placed into a PCGS Currency "Apparent" grade holder with the problem described. A note in this grade will be generally unattractive, although it will technically be New or "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 A Choice About New 58 note will typically be an apparent Choice New or better note, with one or two light corner bends or folds that reach into the design of the note. A light vertical bend down the middle of an otherwise Choice New or better note would also qualify a note for this grade. 58 EPQ: Premium grade note. May look like higher grade, but unfortunately, has a single vertical fold or one to two light corner folds. 58: Often a note with a single fold that has been pressed or re-embossed to hide the fold.
55 A note in this grade will appear New at first glance, but will have a bent corner or light vertical center fold that will keep it from an uncirculated grade. Two light vertical bends are acceptable for this grade, as long as the surface of the paper is not broken. More than one light fold or a heavy fold or crease will drop the note into a lower grade. 55 EPQ: Two light vertical folds or a single fold with handling, but a nice original note. 55: This grade is commonly assigned to a note with one or two folds that has been pressed. Note may have been re-embossed.
53 "53" is an intermediate grade used for notes that are above average for the "50" grade but that don't quite reach the "55" grade. Such a note might have one slightly heavier fold or crease but with all the other qualities of an uncirculated note, or it might have a combination of light bends or corner folds that keeps it from a higher About New grade. No more than two vertical folds or a single horizontal fold, but folds are too heavy for a higher grade.
50 An About New 50 note will display one or more light folds that are not heavy in nature or that do not detract from the overall appearance, two or three very light vertical bends if they do not break the surface of the paper, or one heavy fold or crease. Two heavy folds or creases will drop the note to a lower grade level. Two heavier folds, or a light horizontal and vertical fold. Handling can be significant.
45 A note in this grade will typically be bright, fresh, crisp, and attractive, but a few light folds, several light bends, or a couple of vertical creases may be present. The overall eye appeal will be above average, and only the slightest soiling may be visible. 45 EPQ: Usually a note with three light vertical folds that may look much higher grade, especially when note has little evidence of handling. Many of the same qualities as above, but note is not original. Common alterations include attempts to diminish the appearance of folds.
40 The old standard of "three folds makes an XF" is applicable here, as typically a thrice-folded note does indeed usually grade "40". Common sense exceptions must be made, however, as three folds that are exceptionally heavy may drop the note into a lower grade category. Notes with three folds and a couple of other minor light bends or folds may occasionally make it to the "40" grade if the extra folds are light enough and are not obtrusive to the overall appearance. A typical XF note may have a couple of pinholes, but any larger holes would prevent a note from reaching this grade. Three folds, one of which may be horizontal. Little, if any, circulation.
35 This is a "just miss" grade, comparable to the grade "About Extremely Fine" used by some companies. It represents a note that is very close to an Extremely Fine 40 but that has one or two minor faults, such as an additional light fold or two that preclude a higher grade. A "35" should have eye appeal that is well above average for a VF note. 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 One or two extra folds on an otherwise Extremely Fine note would lower an example to this grade level. The paper should remain nearly fully bright, and it should retain strong crispness. A "30" will retain good color and eye appeal and should have no more than a few scattered pinholes. Still crisp, but may show a bit of circulation or light soiling. May have several light folds.
25 A "25" is basically a "20" that for some reason appears slightly nicer than average or has some (but not enough) claim to a Very Fine 30 grade. A "25" will typically have bright, solid paper with some signs of light handling or circulation, and it may have more folds than are allowed for a higher grade. A circulated note with good eye appeal, but has too many folds or too much soiling for a higher Very Fine grade.
20 A Very Fine 20 note should have plenty of body remaining in the paper, although numerous folds, wrinkles, or other signs of circulation may be present. Mild soiling might be apparent, but it should not be serious. The paper should remain relatively bright. No tears, stains, or other impairments should be readily apparent, and the note should still have nice eye appeal. Several minor pinholes may be visible when the note is held to a light. The corners may be slightly frayed or slightly rounded at this grade, but the paper should retain nearly full crispness and there should be little or no loss of color in the design. Moderate circulation with numerous folds, mild soiling but no serious detractions. A solid note but may have a minor defect.
15 This intermediate grade represents a note that has some qualities of a VF note, such as good body or soundness of paper, bright colors or inks, or above average eye appeal, but that possesses too many folds or too much evidence of circulation to grade Very Fine 20. This is a rather common intermediate grade, and will often be awarded to a Fine example that is above average in some respects or to a note that just misses the VF grade because of an isolated loss of body at a fold. Looks like a Very Fine, but may have too many folds or too much circulation to warrant a full Very Fine.
12 A note in this grade will resemble most notes that have spent considerable time in circulation. The piece will have lost some of its body, but the paper will still be solid. (A limp note will classify at a lower level.) The corners may be slightly frayed or rounded, and the edges may also be frayed. Pinholes may be readily apparent, but none should be large or obtrusive. A few minor edge splits are not uncommon in this grade, but they typically will be within the margin and not affect the design. No major stains or tears may be present, although a stray pencil marking or light teller stamp will not affect the grade at this level if it is not dark or obtrusive. Considerable circulation, rounded corners, pinholes, minor margin splits may be present, but the note will be whole with solid paper.
10 Another intermediate grade that designates an above average VG or a "just miss" note that nearly reaches the Fine grade. A Very Good 10 might often be an otherwise Fine example that has a heavy fold or two with isolated soiling or worn areas around it. A solid, whole note with lots of circulation. Too limp or too many minor problems to make a fine grade.
08 At this grade, a note will be heavily worn with slightly rounded corners, frayed edges, or slightly rough margins. The paper will be intact, however, and no pieces may be missing other than an occasional corner tip. A few edge splits may be apparent, although they must not be severe. The note will be limp or soiled from circulation, and some wallet staining may be visible. No major damage is acceptable at this grade level, however, and any note that has a large hole, stain, tear, or missing piece must fall into a lower grade category. 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.
06 This grade will be assigned when a note has some feature that prevents the full VG grade, such as heavy wear, a small missing piece from the edge or a small internal hole, or if there is some combination of minor damage or staining that prevents the Very Good 8 grade from being assigned. Very worn, serious splits, fraying of the margins and minor damage is evident.
04 A "Good" note is actually not all that good, as it will be basically intact but fully limp and lacking in any color, snap, or eye appeal. The colors will have typically faded, and there may be small edge chips, nicks, margin tears, or other problems. Any note with major problems will either fall into an even lower grade or will be given an "Apparent" grade with the problems noted. Very heavily circulated note with numerous small problems. Totally limp with impaired visual appeal. Commonly seen with small pieces missing.
03 An About Good 3 note will typically be extremely worn and may be missing small pieces. If any major damage is evident or there are significant portions of the note missing, a lower grade will be in order. 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.
02 A note in this grade should be mostly intact, but large pieces may be missing including some in meaningful portions of the design. Holes, stains, tears, splits, and other problems will likely be present. 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.
01 About all that can be expected at this grade level is that the note is still (mostly) in one piece, although it may not be fully complete. Most notes are not collectible by the time they are this low on the grading spectrum, but some rare notes are still quite valuable even heavily worn and damaged. Most notes at this grade level are likely good candidates for skilled restoration. 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.
Lingo PCGS Currency PMG
Q PPQ: To distinguish notes that bear all the hallmarks of complete originality and outstanding paper quality for the grade, we will affix a “PPQ” (Premium Paper Quality) designation to the grade (e.g.: “Gem New 65PPQ”). These are notes that bear no visible evidence of restoration and that retain all signs of fully original paper quality, such as paper wave, embossing, and bold ink color and eye appeal. “PPQ” notes should also have above average paper for the grade that is free of defects such as tears, pinholes, or other problems. This is not done to penalize those notes that are not fully original, as many are very collectible and highly valuable. Instead, this system is designed to reward those notes, both circulated and New, that possess premium paper quality and complete originality. It should be understood that even though a note may be fully original and free of any restoration, it still might not qualify for the “PPQ” designation. 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.
X Apparent grade followed by a brief and concise description of the problems or repairs. The “Apparent” grade will equate to what the note would have graded without the mentioned problems. For example, "Apparent VF30, bleached and starched" might be a description of a problem note, as might "Apparent XF45, upper-right corner restored." No net grade will be given. Notes that fall below the Good 4 grade will be given an "Apparent" grade only if there is restoration work done, as it is assumed that notes below this grade will have visible problems that are inherent to the grade. 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, re-embossed, 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.

Many people ask about the difference between PPQ/EPQ notes and the others. First off, we dealers refer to them as Q'd (pronounced Queued ~ google it to pronounce it) and Flat. The grading services either assign a Q (PPQ or EPQ) or it's known as Flat. The term Flat came about because a typical rule of thumb is that Flat notes lack the originality of the "paper wave" -- the naturally occurring wave that original paper money has (yes I know that's redundant). Flat notes occur because of the way they were stored, or they have been pressed flat intentionally. Sure the Q'd notes bring a little more money but the flat notes can be just as appealing to the eye!

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