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PMG vs. PCGS and How PQ Affects Currency Values

Before I get into this article, let me first say that PMG and PCGS are both very competent graders and their grades command the same prices in the market today.  However, there are some slight differences between each company.  You can use your knowledge of these two differences to have a better and more predictable grading experience.

One great thing about PCGS is that any grade is eligible for the PPQ designation.  PPQ stands for premium paper quality.  This is the graders way of saying that the note is completely choice and original with no problematic condition issues like rust, stains, pinholes, etc.  In theory PPQ could be found on any grade from 1 to 70.  PMG has a similar qualifier.  It is called EPQ, which stands for exceptional paper quality.  PMG only uses the EPQ qualifier for grades 30 to 70.  And notes graded 65 and higher have to have EPQ to get the designation.

So what does all of that mean?  It means that certain notes, while their technical grade may be the same, are going to be graded more favorably in terms of the PQ assignment at one grading service over another.  For example, if you have a completely problem free 1923 $10 pokerchip note that is lightly circulated and should grade a 25, you might consider sending to PCGS.  At PCGS that note should grade as 25 PPQ.  At PMG it would just grade as a plain 25.  There is a moderate premium for a 25 PPQ over a regular 25.

Here is another example.  Let’s say you have an 1869 $1 note in superb gem condition, but it has one pinhole!  Even if the note has even margins, the highest it will grade at PMG is 64.  The pinhole disqualifies it from getting the EPQ designation.  All notes graded at PMG as 65 or higher have to be EPQ notes as well.  The same is not true at PCGS.  The same note with great margins and one pinhole could grade a 66 at PCGS.  The 66 at PCGS should be worth more than the 64 at PMG.  Of course the savvy dealer or collector will understand why the PMG note only got a 64 and pay a premium in the hopes to cross the note over to a PCGS holder and thus add some value.

Of course there are not many circulated notes that will get PPQ and there are not many gem uncirculated notes with pinholes.  So the information above will rarely be actionable.  However, you can add a little bit to your bottom line if you know the policies of each company.

Now that probably sounds like two endorsements for PCGS, and I guess it might by.  However, neither company is perfect.  PMG is popular because anyone can submit notes.  You have to be a member of the PCGS collectors club to submit currency to them.  Collectors generally consider PCGS to be more accessible because their graders and owners are former dealers.  On the other hand, PMG is known for having quick turn around times.  PMG also has a stronger presence in foreign currency.  Both companies are very upfront about fees and services.  So you really get what you pay for.  PCGS is in Peoria, IL and PMG is in Sarasota, FL.  Some people select a service based on their physical location in the country.

Please contact us if you would like to have a conversation about grading.  Sales@AntiqueMoney.com