Detailed Grading Scale
Grading currency is very subjective. Condition relates to value with currency, just like with cars, antiques, coins, stamps, baseball cards, and anything else of value. Things that detract from a notes value are tears, stains, creases, folds, bent corners and irregular cuts.
If you are buying currency from ANY seller, you should determine before buying how that seller arrived at a particular grade, since an assigned grade directly relates to the value. Liberal grading tends to lead to over-inflated pricing, while a more conservative approach helps insure a collector is paying an honest price for a particular item. It is the same concept used with selling items outside of the currency market. If any item being sold is described accurately, to best of the sellers ability, surprises will be limited, and the buyer should be pleased with the purchase. One should ALWAYS demand to see both sides of a note before buying, to eliminate surprises.
We are very conservative graders of paper money, and tend to determine grades from a collector's point of view. We painstakingly describe every note as accurately as possible. We do not use what has been coined, a "market oriented grading" system. This means, that our evaluations will tend to be more cautious. We will not "bump up" a note's grade in order to make additional profit. We spend a great deal of time describing all the notes listed on this site, as well as ALWAYS showing both sides of every note listed, so there will be no surprises.
There is not a "one size fits all" concept with grading currency. Special consideration has to be given to Confederate currency. It was printed on a variety of different paper types. Some examples have thin paper, and other examples were printed on thick paper. Pinholes are quite common in all grades, including the CHOICE grades. Most pinholes were due directly to the quality of paper used when printing.
Also, one has to consider that these notes were hastily cut from sheets
by hand in the 1860s, causing irregular cutting patterns into the borders
and designs. It is quite common for a Confederate note to not have a complete
border due to the cutting process. Notes with a full border line all the
way around, tend to go for more money, especially when found in MINT condition.
Many dealers use terms to describe notes like "GEM", "MINT", "CRISP", etc. to divide notes into separate grades. While we feel that these terms can be helpful in adding to a description of a note, we do not feel that they should be given separate grading categories.
The following is a brief description of OUR grading terms that are used on this site, and may not necessarily correspond with other dealers or collectors:
It is getting much harder to find notes that have survived over 140 years in pristine condition. IN OUR OPINION, considering the age of CSA currency, and the printing process used, there should not be deductions made in grades, due to minor flaws such as a minor edge tear or stain. Let me emphasize, that flaws such as these should always be clearly stated when selling. However, they do not necessarily command a drop in grade unless they are excessive.
For example; a note that is in XF condition, but has a simple edge tear, does not drop a grade to VF. Instead this note maintains a grade of XF, with the flaw being noted. However, if that same note has a significant tear that exceeded well into the design of the note, consideration should be given as to lowering the grade.
Having notes graded by independent, third party grading companies, is becoming more popular these days. Some collectors like having an independent company grade their notes, along with having the note encapsulated. We are authorized dealers for PMG (PAPER MONEY GUARANTY), one of the leading, independent grading companies in the market today. They are very conservative in their grading, and have a very appealing encapsulation holder for notes. We would be happy to assist any collector with submitting notes to PMG for grading. Just contact us for more info, or visit PMG's website directly by clicking on this link: PMG
Here is PMG's grading scale:
MS 60-70 Uncirculated
AU 50, 53, 55, 58 About Uncirculated
XF 40, 45 Extremely Fine
VF 20, 25, 30, 35 Very Fine
F 12, 15 Fine
VG 8, 10 Very Good
G 4, 6 Good
AG 3 About Good
FR 2 FairPR 1 Poor Point of interest: PMG has never graded a Confederate note higher than 67
If you are looking for a current price guide which provides illustrations, along with much more details on how to buy and grade Confederate currency, then we would highly recommend obtaining Pierre Fricke's 2008 Field Edition entitled 'Collecting Confederate Paper Money'. In our opinion, it is an outstanding book that is easy to navigate thru, and we think you will find it to be the ONLY REFERENCE GUIDE YOU NEED when buying Confederate currency.
Pierre Fricke has become one of the leaders in the field of researching Confederate currency. The grading scale that Pierre put in his book, is very conservative, and you will find our grading correlates in many ways to his. Here is a summary of the extensive scale found in his book, and at his website www.csaquotes.com:
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