Grading – Ugh, what a hornets’ nest one can open up here. I am definitely no expert (I am only expert at doing nothing) but I do try to do the best I can and there has been many conversations (many heated) about grading. I personally am not a proponent of grading companies, but do think for some very rare older notes, worth considering. Anyway, this blog is not about grading companies or the intricacies of banknote grading (I am definitely not qualified here) but to let you know that there is actually a fairly good set of guidelines in place that I think is interesting to read and maybe it can help with your own grading.

I know again it is subjective, but if we all try to use these guidelines, it will create a very good understanding of the sort of note we are buying. Of course, with online scanning and websites etc, it is a bit easier to see the note. I remember in the old days, when I were young (no not quite before the civil war) you only had a printed list to go by, and all deals were done via the mail (I actually know a few dealers who still only work this way) so it was probably more critical than today. However, there are still a few “less” reputable dealers who try to scan notes in the best light and try to avoid the flaws (Fortunately, they are not in business long, but do hurt reputable dealers reputation somewhat). A scan, as I say, can help, but a good grading is I think irreplaceable at this time. I never want to oversell/overgrade a note, but again not being an expert (plus my excuse of old eyes) I know I am not always correct (and the reason I do a 30 day money back guarantee – fortunately no one has ever invoked this – yet!) but I think that as I use the IBNS Grading standards as laid out on their web page can help, as they say, keep us all on the same page.

I must admit, I have used +/- on some grades (which in some heated discussion has caused annoyance for some banknote collectors) but sometime I feel that can help tell the buyer that while the note maybe VF a + at the end can show that the seller feels it is a little above that grade, but not quiet at the XF grade. I know though sometimes (and I am sure I am guilty of this) we do over use the VF grade (I am always a bit anxious about the XF grade and would wonder if IBNS could maybe put a grade between VF and XF – say aXF?) Until then though, I will stick to VF+.

Finally, I did want to show a couple of examples of notes that do represent the different grades, and hopefully they will show well enough for you to get a “feel” for the different grades.

1) Vanuatu – what I consider UNC

Vanuatu 200 Vatu pnew 2014









2) Japan – what I consider VF

Japan 10 Sen p84gradeaunc-xf










3) Argentina – what I consider F

Argentina 1Peso p287 grade F









4) China – what I consider VG

China 100 Custom Gold Unit p330 grade VG









5) Cambodia – what I consider G/Fair

Cambodia 100 Riels p53 grade G/Fair









Hope this helps a little with grading, I do somehow feel it may spark more discussion – but I hope that at the end of the day, we can all work together to use the IBNS banknote grading standards and maybe just fine tune with notations about the note (plus a good scan of course) Finally, please don’t grade this blog as there is no grade low enough I believe.