The International Bank Note Society (IBNS) Grading Standards

Uncirculated: A perfectly preserved note, never mishandled by the issuing authority, a bank teller, the public or a collector. The paper is clean and firm, without discoloration. Corners are sharp and square, without any evidence of rounding (rounded corners are often a telltale sign of a cleaned or "doctored" note.) An uncirculated note will have its original, natural sheen.
Note: Some issues are most often available with slight evidence of counting folds (creases). Many collectors and dealers often refer to such notes as AU-UNC.

About uncirculated: a virtually perfect note, with some minor handling. May show evidence of bank counting folds at a corner or one light fold through the center, but not both. An AU note cannot be creased, a crease being a hard fold which has usually "broken" the surface of the note. The paper is clean and bright with original sheen. Comers are not rounded.
Note: Europeans will refer to an about uncirculated or AU note as EF-Unc or as just EF. The extremely fine notes described below will often be referred to as GVF or good very fine.

Extremely fine: a very attractive note with light handling. May have a maximum of three light folds or one strong crease. Paper is clean and bright with original sheen. Comers may show only the slightest evidence of rounding. There may also be the slightest sign of wear where a fold meets the edges.

Very fine: an attractive note, but with more evidence of handling and wear. May have a number of folds both vertically and horizontally. The paper may have minimal dirt, or possibly color smudging. The paper itself is still relatively crisp and not floppy. There are no tears into the border area, although the edges do show slight wear. The comers also show wear but not full rounding.

Fine: a note which shows considerable circulation, with many folds, creases and wrinkling. The paper is not excessively dirty but may have some softness. The edges may show much handling, with minor tears in the border area. Tears may not extend into the design. There will be no center hole because of excessive folding. The colors are clear but not very bright. A staple hole or two would not be considered unusual wear in a fine note. The overall appearance is still on the desirable side.

Very good: a well used note, abused but still intact. Corners may have much wear and rounding, tiny nicks or tears may extend into the design, some discoloration may be present, staining may have occurred, and a small hole may be seen at the center from excessive folding. Staple and pinholes are usually present, and the note itself is quite limp but NO pieces of the note can be missing. A note in very good condition may still have an overall not unattractive appearance.

Good: a well worn and heavily used note. Normal damage from prolonged circulation will include strong multiple folds and creases, stains, pinholes and/or staple holes, dirt, discoloration, edge tears, center hole, rounded comers and an overall unattractive appearance. No large pieces of the note may be missing. Graffiti is commonly seen on notes in good condition.

Fair: a totally limp, dirty and very well used note. Larger pieces may be half torn off or missing besides the defects mentioned under the good category. Tears will be larger, obscured portions of the note will be bigger.

Poor: a "rag" with severe damage because of wear, staining, pieces missing, graffiti, larger holes. May have tape holding pieces of the note together. Trimming may have taken place to remove rough edges. A poor note is desirable only as a "filler" or when such a note is the only one known of that particular issue.

Other defects
Notes with physical defects that are out of character for the grade as it would otherwise be assigned must receive additional attention. They first must be graded according to the standards above without regard to the defect. A description of the defect must then be added to the grade of the note. The words "pinholes," "staple holes," "trimmed," "writing on the face," "tape marks" etc. are examples of the qualifiers that must always be added to the description of a note. This is done rather than attempting to adjust the grade to account for these defects.

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1955-1956 ND First Issue

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