Notaphily is the name given to the study or hobby of collecting banknotes and paper money in general, which nowadays of course can also mean plastic money in the form of plastic bank notes.
Banknotes are usually graded based upon a descriptive scale. These grades tend to vary somewhat internationally and as time passes, more grades have been incorporated. The grades as specified by the International Bank Note Society are:
- Uncirculated (UNC) - refers to a banknote that is bright and has no handling damage, such as folds or creases, nor any cuts, stains, or rounded corners.
- About uncirculated (AU) - is a banknote that is still bright but has trivial handling damage, i.e a light center fold (not a crease, which is a break of the fibres of the paper), without rounded corners.
- Extremely fine (XF or EF) - a banknote with one crease or up to three light folds. The paper still bright and attractive, very slight wear to corners allowed.
- Very Fine (VF) - Note is still attractive, but has possible slight dirt or smudging and may have several horizontal or vertical folds. The paper remains relatively crisp and has no tears, but slight wear to edges and corners is permissible.
- Fine (F) - Paper is slightly soft and shows signs of considerable wear due to folds from use in circulation. Minor tears to note which do not extend into the design. The note is clear, but not bright in appearance. It may have staple holes but not holes due to folding.
- Very Good (VG) - Considerable wear. The paper is 'limp' and tears extend into the design. Staining and discoloration are possible. A hole at the centre caused by folding is allowable, however the note still looks presentable.
- Good (G) - A good deal of wear, as per VG, but even more so. The may be graffiti on the note and small pieces of the note may even be missing.
- Fair - Larger pieces of the banknote have been torn off or are missing, compared with G. Less of the note is still intact.
- Poor - Severe damage due to wear, staining, missing pieces, graffiti and holes. May even be taped together. The worst possible condition and rarely worth holding on to.
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