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What Does Uncirculated Mean?

A lot of different words get kicked around when it comes to describing paper money in uncirculated condition.  We often hear mint, perfect, brand new, never touched, etc.  The important thing to remember is that the term uncirculated is not a generic term you can use to mean that it looks nice.  Uncirculated is a technical term that implies that the note has never been folded before and it is free of any condition issues.

“My granddad got this note directly from the bank in 1934, it never circulated.”  That does not mean that the note is technically uncirculated.  If the note was folded at any point in time then it is disqualified from being uncirculated.  That is a big difference between coins and paper money.  A coin that was taken directly from the bank and tucked away almost always has a chance to grade as 64 or higher.  The same is not true for paper money.  It is much easier for currency to show signs of wear even if the bank note never actually entered the stream of commerce.

So why does all of this matter?  Well the grade of paper money significantly affects the value.  See the real world example below.  An 1899 $1 silver certificate is very common in uncirculated grades.  Here is what an 1899 $1 silver certificate sells for based on which uncirculated grade it is in:

63 – $400
64 – $550
65 – $800
66 – $950
67 – $1,500
68 – $6,000
69 – $30,000
70 – will likely never exist

Hopefully that example will explain why grades are so important and why people are looking to find notes that are truly uncirculated.  Let us know if we can help you understand more about grading and your currency.  Send us an email.  Sales@AntiqueMoney.com