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These terms are used to describe the condition of the banknotes :
In perfect condition, not showing the slightest mark of mishandling nor, of course, of use.
For world banknotes, almost UNC (or almost new) often describes a note with a counting mark or with a slight bundle fold (of course the central fold is not visible in any way, just a slight curve of the paper) or if the bundle was stored with a tight rubber band which marked the central margins a little. Almost UNC notes are almost perfect, they should never ever have pinholes.
AU (ABOUT UNCIRCULATED)
An AU note is an uncirculated note with pinholes (preferably in the upper left part) OR which has been folded once but without the paper fibers being broken. Of course, one can also refer to a note as being AU if a perfect note has one problem important enough to make the note less than almost UNC (an unbroken fold at a corner of the note, irregular margins....).
XF or EF (EXTREMLY FINE)
In the worst case, two or three pinholes, minor folds can be present but the note must still have an excellent appearance and have no major problem of any kind. An XF (or EF) note should always be checked with utmost care as the difference with a nice VF - Very Fine is seldom obvious. Always check the back of the note, fold marks must be perfectly clean (but not have been doctored !). An XF (or EF)note must have retained the original crispness of the paper.
VF (VERY FINE)
Very Fine doesn't mean a lot and such a note must be carefully checked to avoid discussions and arguments. The easiest way to describe VERY FINE is to figure out what an XF note constitutes : a very fine note is one which could have been superb but isn't. Circulation is obvious and the note has various problems (nothing really serious) but the overall look is pleasant and fresh ; it is the typical collectable circulated note.
A FINE note has obviously been in circulation for a long time but has to be representative of the average quality of a note and look decent, no major tears or spots. A FINE note has no part missing, a lot of circulation, many pinholes and folds, often a little bit dirty, minor tears, margin problems, rounded corners...
A GOOD note has been circulated a lot, has many pinholes, folds, dirt, tears but no major part is missing (except if precisely mentioned)
Its description is quite the same as FINE but with a difference ; the overall look is really worse than FINE or the note is a VERY FINE with a major problem. GOOD is often the grade for XIXth century notes.
PR or AG (POOR or ALMOST GOOD)
A POOR or ALMOST GOOD note is the minimum quality to include a note in a collection however rare could be the note (but unique of course, for which « identifiable » is acceptable) Of course, no common note is ever offered in an PR or AG condition but with a dramatic problem on an otherwise very nice note. In fact, only very rare notes, usually XIXth century issues are offered in this grade. PR ot AG is more commonly seen than M (for mediocre) which is out of fashion or only seen when even PR or AG is not sufficient.