Crisp Uncirculated (or CU): A note in this
grade must be strictly Uncirculated-with no folds, bends, or wrinkles
present, even when viewed very closely under a strong light. A bent
corner tip may be acceptable at this grade level if there are no other
flaws, but only if the bend is within the margin and it does not affect
the design. If the bend is large or there is more than one, the note
cannot grade CU. Such a note may have centering problems, counting
crinkles, or microscopically rounded corners, but the note must be
strictly free of folds or bends.
Almost Uncirculated (or AU): An AU note
will have one or more light folds that are not heavy in nature or
obtrusive to the overall appearance. Three light vertical bends would be
acceptable for this grade if they do not "break" the surface of the
paper, but no more than two light folds may be present. One heavy fold
or crease may be present at this grade, but two heavy folds or creases
will drop the note to a lower grade level.
Extremely Fine (or XF): A note in this
grade will be bright, fresh, crisp, and attractive, but a few light
folds or bends may be present. The overall eye appeal will be above
average, and only the slightest soiling may be visible. A note in this
grade might have a few light folds or several very minor bends, or a
couple of vertical creases may be present. A note with a horizontal fold
and three vertical folds cannot technically grade XF, although a very
light horizontal bend that does not "break" the surface of the paper
might be acceptable at this grade level if the three vertical folds are
not heavy and there are no other apparent flaws. A typical XF note may
have a couple of pinholes, but any larger holes would prevent a note
from reaching this grade level.
Very Fine (or VF): A VF note should have
nearly full remaining crispness, although several folds, wrinkles, or
other signs of circulation may be present. Mild soiling might be
apparent, but it should not be serious. 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 level, but the paper should retain nearly full crispness
and there should be no loss of color in the design.
Fine (or F): A note in this grade will
resemble most notes that have spent considerable time in circulation.
The piece will have lost most of its crispness. 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.
Very Good (or VG): At this grade
classification, a note will be heavily worn with slightly rounded
corners, frayed edges, or slightly rough margins. The paper will be
intact, however, and no large pieces may be missing. 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.
Good (or G): A note in this grade will be
heavily worn, soiled, torn, taped, holed, or missing small pieces from
the design. It will still be roughly intact, and readily distinguishable
by series and design type.