A perfectly preserved note, never mishandled by the issuing authority, a bank teller, the public or a collector. Paper is clean and firm, without discoloration. Corners are sharp and square, without any evidence of rounding. (Rounded corners are often a tell-tale sign of a cleaned or "doctored" note.) An uncirculated note will have its original, natural sheen.
NOTE: Some note issued are most often available with slight evidence of very light counting folds which do not "break" the paper. Also, French-printed notes usually have a slight ripple in the paper. Many collectors and dealers often refer to such notes as AU-UNC
ABOUT UNCIRCULATED (AU)
A virtually perfect note, with some minor mishandling. May show very light evidence of bank counting folds at a corner or one light fold through the center, but not both. An AU not cannot be creased, a crease being a hard fold which has usually "broken" the surface of the note. Paper is clean and bright with original sheen. Corners are not rounded.
EXTREMELY FINE (XF)
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. Corners may show the slightest evidence of rounding. There may also be the lightest sign of wear where the fold meets the edge.
VERY FINE (VF)
An attractive note, but with more evidence of handling and wear. May have several folds both vertically and horizontally. Paper may have minimal dirt, or possible color smudging. Paper itself is still relatively crisp and not floppy.
There are not tears in the border area, although the edges do show slight wear. Corners also show wear but not full rounding.
A note which shows considerable circulation, with many folds, creases and wrinkling. Paper is not excessively dirty but may have some softness. Edges may show much handling, with minor tears in the border area. Tears may not extend in the design. There will be no center hole because of excessive folding. Colors are clear but not very bright. A staple hole or two would not be considered unusual wear in a Fine note. Overall appearance is still on the desirable side.
VERY GOOD (VG)
A well used note, abused but still intact. Corners may have much wear and rounding, tiny nicks, tears may extend into the design, some discoloration may be present, staining may have occurred, and a small hole may sometimes be seen at the center from excessive folding. Staple and pinholes are usually present, and the note itself is quite limp but no pieces are missing. A note in the VG condition may still have an overall unattractive appearance.
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 corners and an overall unattractive appearance. No Large pieces of the note may be missing. Graffiti is common seen on notes in G Condition.
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 known of that particular issue.