Paper Money Grading at RealBanknotes.com
Grading paper money is something fairly essential to collecting banknotes. It can denote both value and rarity. Several organizations exist that can do this for collectors for a price. These organizations include the likes of PMG, CGA, and PCGS and these are the most common ones on eBay. Of course this type of service assures the future buyers of your banknotes of not only its value, but also of its authenticity. These services are quite expensive, in my opinion, but in some cases are quite worth their fees. In the case of truly rare banknotes, or scarce paper money in exceptionally good condition a verified grading by a third party can definitely increase the number of bids in an auction environment.
At RealBanknotes.com we do not offer this service. However, for the purpose of certain listings and especially in the case of our eBay sales histories, we do try to gauge banknote condition in at least an approximate manner. Unlike professional companies, we do not inspect every note based on a 60+ point scale. We do not have the time, so we gauge paper money based on the photos we see in listings or that are sent to us. Again, we are not professionals, and we don't really care to be, however, we do want to inform you on our general grading guidelines.
We stick strictly to what we call the 'letter grading' standards of, from worst condition to best, P = Poor, G = Good (which is not good at all, actually), VG = Very Good, F = Fine, VF = Very Fine, EF = Extremely Fine, AUNC = About Uncirculated, and UNC = Uncirculated. Furthermore, we don't really use grading divisions such as EF+ or VF++. We stick to the basics, so to speak. But pictures are worth a thousand words, so here is the approximate grading scheme that we try to stick to:
Uncirculated Condition Paper Money (UNC)
About Uncirculated Condition Paper Money (AUNC)
Extremely Fine Condition Paper Money (EF)
Very Fine Condition Paper Money (VF)
Fine Condition Paper Money (F)
Very Good Condition Paper Money (VG)
Good Condition Paper Money (G)
Poor Condition Paper Money (P)
As a general rule, we don't even list sales for paper money in poor condition. This grading scheme can be used to assist you in making the best of our eBay sales histories. This element of RealBanknotes.com is a unique feature that can help you determine whether you are getting a deal on eBay when bidding on banknotes.
"It might be a lot more useful to show the same note in the various conditions. It's not always easy to compare the grades of different notes, and I find that dealers tend to grade older notes far more liberally than modern ones."
"Yes, this is true. I will make a note of this in my -to-do list, and hopefully it will be done someday. Thanks for the idea."
"Proteus, perhaps you also need to add reverses for these notes? The best way to judge the grade of a note is usually by looking at its back. I often find that the creases on VF+ notes or EF notes can hardly be made out at all on photos of the obverse side.
BTW, I think your EF note can hardly be called EF, since under IBNS definitions it should have only a single clean hard crease, and your sample note has lots of very untidy creasing - to my mind reducing it to VF+, at best. Similarly your VF note is badly stained, which would reduce its grade at least one if not two steps.
If you need a good sample note in all the various grades, the Hong Kong blue $1 with KGVI portrait (your VG exemplar) would be a reasonable choice. It's freely available in all grades, albeit vastly overpriced in Pick (one of many overrated HK notes). A major part of the 'knack' of grading from photographs comes down to how the colour dyes fade in the poorer grades, and how the note becomes ever grubbier, and this is easy to see on this note."
"This is a good point, contarius. However, this article does not intend to demonstrate a more exact grading scheme. This article is intended to illustrate the grading standards that are being applied to eBay sales histories that appear below banknote descriptions/scans on corresponding pages, where there is data available. Furthermore, because I am entering 1000+ banknote sales histories per month, I do not and cannot take the time to examine each banknote as an extremely serious collector might.
So, the lesson to be learned for all members is that if you are extremely particular of banknote condition, then you have to take the sales histories with a grain of salt. If approximate is good enough, than the data that I have entered should be reasonably accurate, and very accurate where there are a few sales histories available for a note (general trends can be seen with notes that have 5+ sales histories over a period of a year or more)."
"I like the idea of adding the reverse of the note to each grade. I can provide photos of the KGVI Hong Kong dollar note in UNC and Fine condition if you want to use the same note for each grade given."
"I'd definitely be down for that. I wonder if we can find a sample note for which we can find the images for all conditions, UNC down to G."