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Note Conditions

  • UNCIRCULATED (UNC) - A perfect note. Crisp and clean as issued and without any folds, creases, blemishes or discoloration. Colours have original hue and brightness. Some issues may have ripples (as made). Mention must be made if the design is not perfectly centred with usual width of margins.
  • ABOUT UNCIRCULATED (AU) - Similar to Uncirculated, but with the allowance of a light fold (usually a vertical centre fold) or two or three very light counting folds, but not both. Counting creases resulting in broken paper fibres, or any other creases, reduce the grade depending on their number and severity. The practice of using almost and about to designate a slightly lower grade, or a plus in the case of lower grades to designate in-between grades is common, e.g. almost AU or EF plus. Notes not perfectly centred with the usual width of margins must be so described.
  • EXTREMELY FINE (EF) - Similar to Almost Uncirculated, but the centre fold, vertical or horizontal, may be a crease, i.e. paper fibres are broken, or there may be up to three heavy counting folds (not creases) or two light creases, but no combination of the above. There should be almost no evidence of wear, soiling or blemishes. The centering and margins if not perfect must be noted.
  • VERY FINE (VF) - A fairly crisp and clean note. It may have several major and minor creases and folds, and some evidence of wear especially along the edges or at the corners. There may be some slight decrease in hue and intensity of the colours. The design in the creases should not be worn off.
  • FINE (F) - A note with considerable evidence of circulation. Numerous creases and folds, but a small degree of firmness remaining. Usually fairly soiled and the hue and intensity of the colour are slightly reduced. There may be a slight amount of the design worn off along the major creases.
  • VERY GOOD (VG) - A heavily circulated note but with all the major design still visible. Usually limp with no crispness or firmness, quite soiled, hue and intensity of the colour will be faded or altered. A moderate amount of the design may be worn off along the major creases or in the counting crease areas. Numerous other defects may apply (see list below).
  • GOOD (G) - Soft and very limp, often with tears and small pieces missing. Usually some of the major design is worn off. Note may be quite dark in appearance. Manuscript signatures, dates and sheet numbers may be faint or unreadable. Usually has numerous tears and other defects.
  • FAIR (FR) - Similar to Good, but larger pieces missing. Manuscript signatures, dates and sheet numbers may be worn off or entirely faded out. Often has numerous tears and other defects.
  • POOR (P) - As a Fair note, but with a major portion of the note torn off or the design obliterated. Often numerous tape repairs. Generally collectable only because of rarity.

In addition, to accurately grade a note it is necessary to consider any additional impairments. These should include:

  1. Minor counting creases or edge defects, especially for EF and AU grades.
  2. Tears, pinholes or signature perforations.
  3. Stains, smudges, crayon marks or writing.
  4. Missing corners, cut and punch cancellations or edge defects.
  5. Rubber stamp impressions.
  6. Any repairs, such as with sticky tape, scotch tape, stamp hinges, etc.
  7. Chemical damage, paste or glue from attachment to a page.
  8. Poorly centered or badly trimmed edges.
A note with portions missing should be graded as if it were a whole note, then the amount missing should be fully described. Proof, specimen and essay notes are commonly accepted as being in Uncirculated condition. Otherwise, they should be described as impaired, with the type and degree of impairment stated. The above grading guide has been endorsed by the CPMS, Canadian Paper Money Society.

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