Questions about paper money grading

Discussion in 'Paper Money' started by muhfff, May 29, 2023.

  1. muhfff

    muhfff Well-Known Member

    I have collected coins over 30 years and I have reached the point, where I have literally nothing to collect anymore (in my collecting area). So I decided to extend my collecting to paper money.

    Although I have lot of experience in coin collecting (and grading), I have not much experience with paper money (and even less experience with grading).

    So, hopefully somebody with more knowledge in this field can answer some of my (hopefully not too stupid) questions.

    At first, some notes are awared with EPQ/PPQ paper quality designations. I totally understand, that 64 EPQ is better than just plain 64. But what about 63 EPQ vs 64? Which one is "better"?

    Secondly, PMG grading scale states, that for grade 70 "The margins and registration must appear centered to the unaided eye", for 69 "the margins and registration may appear slightly off center" and so on... I kinda understand it, but at the same time I dont understand it at all. I feel, that I need some visual aid to completly understand, how much "off center" something can be for specific grade. Maybe somebody can suggest some web page with explaing pictures? Or add some pictures in this topic, which would show difference.

    Thanks in advance.
    Endeavor, alurid and SteveInTampa like this.
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  3. SteveInTampa

    SteveInTampa Always Learning

    I look at uncirculated notes minus the EPQ designation much like coin collectors look at coins that have been lightly cleaned. I’m guessing you’d prefer a MS63 over a MS64-(cleaned).

    As far as centering on Superb GEM notes in the 67-70 range, it’s like splitting hairs. Sometimes it comes down to registration. Unfortunately, unlike coins, that have numerous websites with visual photographic grade images, paper money doesn’t have an equivalent. You gain this with experience.
    Cheech9712, muhfff and alurid like this.
  4. Collecting Nut

    Collecting Nut Borderline Hoarder

    Modern notes can easily get a EPQ or a PPQ so I don’t take them into consideration. In a way it’s like having a CAC sticker. On a note that grades 64, that’s good but a 63 EPQ is just not a 64. It just means the paper quality is a little bit better. You have to look at the entire note and that only comes with experience.
    Cheech9712 and muhfff like this.
  5. Mountain Man

    Mountain Man Well-Known Member

    For most TPG ers of currency, the EPQ, or PPQ are strictly about the quality of the paper, and has little to do with the grade of the note.
    Best suggestion I can make, is to read the definition on the TPG web site, as they vary.
    muhfff likes this.
  6. Endeavor

    Endeavor Well-Known Member

    Great question. I imagine you will get many different answers.

    I usually consider EPQ/PPQ to be clearly superior than a note without the designation. There are many instances where I would rather buy a 35 EPQ/PPQ over a 50 or 55, for example.

    With that said, the designation has less importance when I'm shopping for notes that have fancy serial numbers or hard to find in any grade.
    muhfff likes this.
  7. Cheech9712

    Cheech9712 Every thing is a guess

    Great questions
    muhfff likes this.
  8. Cheech9712

    Cheech9712 Every thing is a guess

    Phew. I almost learned something
    Collecting Nut and muhfff like this.
  9. muhfff

    muhfff Well-Known Member

    Great answers! Thanks everybody!
    Looking entire note is definitely good advice. When it comes to coins, I've always followed the principle, that buy the coin not the holder. I'm pretty sure it is good strategy in paper money collecting also.
    And that actually brings up few more questions.

    If the note is packed in the plastic (it doesn't even have to be TPG plastic, just some random plastic holder for "raw" note), can you evaluate the quality of the paper? It kinda looks to me, that it always requires more "touch and feel" approach, and if the note is "raw", it should be taken out of the "container" to evaluate the paper quality. Right?

    And I'm also pretty sure, that I cannot buy all the notes in print state condition (some notes even doesn't exist in that condition anymore), if I'm lucky, I can get some of these in NET grade condition or just without EPQ/PPQ/xPQ designation. Again, maybe stupid question, but which one are "better" - notes with pin holes vs notes with minor tears vs notes with minor stains and so on.
    In case of coins it is easy for me, light hairlines are always better than polishing or removed mount or drilled hole, but what about paper money? Pin holes looks to be "smallest" problem (literally), but at the same time very-very light stain maybe even unnoticeable...
    So, in short, in case of the same grade, which "problem" is preferable and which one should be avoided like a plague? Or should it be always taken case by case (looking entire note and deciding based on that)?
  10. Collecting Nut

    Collecting Nut Borderline Hoarder

    Almost?? You crack me up girl! :)
    Cheech9712 likes this.
  11. Dave M

    Dave M Francophiliac

    If you haven't spent some time learning the details of grading, it does get confusing. I wonder if before trying to learn the various grading scales used by the TPG, whether you've started with the traditional grading scale for banknotes, which has a parallel history as that of coins. IBNS has quite a detailed write-up of this with images, that might help. It is fundamental to the 70-point grading the TPG's are using now.
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  12. Notaphylic_C

    Notaphylic_C Well-Known Member

    -yes, "buy the note not the holder" should be your guiding principle. Personally, I'd take a 63 with EPQ over a 64 b/c I don't mind a note that's off-centred slightly & paper integrity is really high on my wish list.

    -every collector has a different set of dealbreakers. For me, I would settle for minor stains over pinholes/tears b/c I dislike paper that's had that kind of damage but that would also depend on the note (& the eye appeal). I've seen some with very tiny unnoticeable pinholes too & some stains are real "stinkers." If the stain was on the back & near a border (somewhat less noticeable) I may be tempted on a really tough rarity. But I would also probably wait until something with no issues came around. (I believe patience is a virtue- look at the long game when it comes to collecting). I understand with some issues (Nationals for US, older King George V or VI notes, many colonial African notes) a collector is just trying to get good eye appeal. And sometimes pricing can play into our decisions. I have heard (elsewhere) never touch a note if you have to use the expression, "its nice "but" it has this >___<" (fill in the blank). Generally that's a pretty good rule of thumb to follow b/c it saves you from upgrading if you get buyer's remorse.
    KSorbo and muhfff like this.
  13. Notaphylic_C

    Notaphylic_C Well-Known Member

    BTW: almost forgot that I made a very short (very general) youtube video on grading banknotes which can be viewed on my Notaphilyc Culture site (scroll down to 5th video).

    Re: Steve's 2nd paragraph (on GEM 67-70 notes) I have a few & TBH I find it very difficult to see the difference between some of these. Perhaps my eyes aren't as perceptive as they once were but I don't have a light box. I often won these notes when several of the same note were offered up for auction & I just threw in a bid (not b/c I wanted that note) so often by surprise. I'm sure they're not that much better than a 66 (I would be seriously hard pressed to articulate how much better my 68 is from my 66) so I will never become a grade rarity collector.
    muhfff likes this.
  14. muhfff

    muhfff Well-Known Member

    Thanks for the link. It's actually first one that even mentions pin holes and stuff like that. Very appreciated!

    Thanks for the video! That explained a lot! Escpecially the centering part. Things are much more clear now!
  15. Cheech9712

    Cheech9712 Every thing is a guess

    Yes it’s not imbedded yet
  16. Cheech9712

    Cheech9712 Every thing is a guess

    That would be super helpful for a new note chaser. NICE ANSWER
  17. Cheech9712

    Cheech9712 Every thing is a guess

    I wish I knew how to save links
  18. Dave M

    Dave M Francophiliac

    Typically in your browser you would make a bookmark from the link. It's probably a bit different in each browser, what do you use?
  19. Cheech9712

    Cheech9712 Every thing is a guess

    I get it. Someday I’m going to buy (maybe). A Civil War note or coin. I don’t want much but I would just want to have my very own
  20. Cheech9712

    Cheech9712 Every thing is a guess

    Safari. On my phone.
  21. Dave M

    Dave M Francophiliac

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