Paper Currency & BanknotesLets face it, it is easy to misrepresent the condition of a banknote.
What does 'UNCIRCULATED' condition mean? Some would describe a note in this condition if they had not used the note for a transaction, however close scrutiny would show defects. The true meaning of a note in this condition is a note without any folds/creases, no marks or dirt, no teller marks, no blemishes or discolorment of any kind. It should be pristine, in the same condition as when it was first printed. So buyer beware.
The use of computer scans & digital photographs can be misleading. Such images can easily be doctored to remove minor blemishes. A scan of a note will also show the note in a better light than it actually is. Beware of sellers that vary the quality of images on their listings. They might have a blurred image for one note and a sharp image for another. Why? Its likely they are attempting to be candid about the condition of the blurred note. If text states, 'see scan and decide for yourself', watch out!
Look for direct, simple descriptions, like 'EF Condition, with three soft folds that have not creased the paper'. Or sellers that qualify their definition of an 'UNCIRCULATED' note.
Notes can be cleaned and doctored, bought at one condition, then relisted at a higher condition. However it is impossible to improve the quality of a note only hide its defects. Some unscrupulous sellers take a soft rubber to dirt marks, a hot iron to the creases & folds, or press the note for a period of time. Some may even guillotine a very thin sliver of paper off an edge to remove a blemish or nick. Check sellers feedback carefully for any indication they have been 'improving' notes.
My advice to any Banknote buyer/collector is to always ask the seller direct questions, 'Has this note been cleaned or pressed. Does it have any folds/creases, marks/dirt/blemishes. Does it have nicks or tears or any disfigurement'. Ask for a better scan and/or a scan of the rear of a note if one has not been provided. If a seller describes a note as in a certain condition using just an abreviation like 'aUNC' with no further explanation, ask the seller, 'what is it about the note that makes you describe it as aUNC condition'. If their answer is not clear and direct or is at all evasive then buyer beware and bid accordingly.
Please don't let this guide put you off a enjoyable hobby, just be careful and bid win your mind not your heart.