Call (02) 9251 1288 | Established 2010

Australian polymer banknotes-grading and condition

Grading of Polymer Banknotes varies from that of grading Paper Banknotes. The grade or condition of a banknote was a matter of opinion more than an exact science in relation to Paper Banknotes.

Polymer Banknotes becomes more of a science, than opinion for a number of reasons that I will go on to explain.

Australia’s CSIRO-The Commonwealth Scientific and Research Organization, co-invented the Polymer Banknotes in 1985, followed by the release of the Ten Dollar Bi-Centennial Banknote in 1988; from that time all banknotes issued in Australia have been produced in Polymer.

The introduction of Polymer Banknotes has changed the numismatic market in Australia forever, with wide acceptance from the Australian public.

Polymer Banknotes have many advantages which include a longer shelf life during circulation, harder to counterfeit, with cheaper production costs due to the longer shelf life of the banknotes.

Grading has become easier for both expert and collector alike, and is accurate if the individual understands the basic grading of Polymer Banknotes, and what exactly to look for when grading these banknotes.

Depending on the country of origin there are two types of grading used, these are The British System which uses grades from Uncirculated down to Good, and this system was adopted in Australia in the late 1970’s. and is currently being used in Australia.

The second system originated and is currently in use in the USA; this grading system commences with the number 100 for an uncirculated banknote, and then progresses down by Five Points for each tear, crease, and marks on the obverse or reverse side, decreasing to Fine.


A Banknote that qualifies as Uncirculated will be a perfect banknote in every way, with no blemishes, folds, flicks or use of any kind. Please let “your eyes be your guide at all times”. If any fault is seen whatsoever this banknote is not uncirculated. Most banknotes to be Uncirculated need to be purchased directly from the direct source-The Reserve Bank at the country of origin.

A banknote that qualifies as Almost Uncirculated, will be a perfect banknote in every way, with the exception that the banknote has gone to the first source of distribution, this would normally be a National or Regional Bank. These Banks use automatic counting machines to directly audit and balance the delivery of all banknotes delivered, therefore they will have a small bump in the middle of the banknote, where the machine has counted all banknotes delivered to that particular bank, prior to distribution.
Although a minor point, this slight imperfection can devalue the banknotes, by many hundreds of dollars.

A banknote that qualifies as Extra Fine will have signs of circulation, with possibly up to 4 folds horizontally or vertically, creases and some marks. The banknote should have a near to uncirculated appearance, crispness to the touch, and not be damaged.

A banknote that qualifies as Very Fine would show obvious signs of circulation, multiple folds, creases, marks, dirt with other obvious signs of wear. This banknote would appeal to a collector, to fill or complete a collection, depending on the rarity of the banknote.

A banknote that qualifies as Fine will show heavy signs of wear and damage, many creases, folds, dirt, tears torn edges with possibly pinholes. This banknote should be avoided for purchase.



As all grades have been listed above from Uncirculated to Fine, as a Collector/Investor of Polymer Banknotes, there are a few simple rules to observe to protect you financially.

The list given to you is the only one you should follow in purchasing or dealing in Polymer Banknotes.

Some confusion arises where half grades are used to describe the grade of a banknote, examples being a Very Fine will move to a Very Good Fine+ or Near Very Fine. An Extra Fine can move to a Good Extra Fine or Near Extra Fine.

An Almost Uncirculated banknote may move to an Uncirculated grade. All of the above grades do not exist with Polymer Banknotes.

Only exact grades exist, not half grades, without following this formula, this could cost you hundred’s of dollars.

Copyright Australasian Notes Pty Ltd 2011