Examining Bank Notes
You don't need much in the way of equipment for bank note collecting, that's what helps make it such an accessible hobby. However, to be able to properly grade and classify a bank note you can't leave it in a sleeve or holder. It is amazing how looking at a bank note through a transparent substance can make it look so much better than it actually is. At the same time many issuers have retained the same designs for their bank notes over many years. However, subtle changes may be made over time, such as to security features, their dimensions, or even the paper they are printed on. It is for this reason that the following are recommended;
Good Source of Light
It is difficult to overestimate the importance of a good source of, preferably natural, light. Looking at a bank note directly in front of a light will show pinholes, repairs and tears, as well as dateable watermarks and other security features.
Holding a bank note at various angles to the light will identify folds and creases that may not be so visible when looked at straight on.
Even if you have 20/20 vision, it is sometimes very difficult to identify features on a bank note. For more valuable notes in particular, it is important to look at the note close up to make it easier to spot repairs or even a forgery. Even for more everyday notes, subtle changes to designs can be hard to find and then date properly. Relatively recent changes to security threads mean that many now have names printed down them. It can give you a headache trying to identify which thread is on your note if you are just using the naked eye!
As stated above, designs may stay the same, but other changes may be made to notes over time. One of these is the imension of notes. Generally notes of the same denomination often get smaller over time, reflecting the relative reduction in value. That's when a ruler comes in handy.
Clean dry finger!
It is recommended that bank notes are handled as little as possible to prevent dirt and smudging, as well as long term acidic damage. However, sometimes it can be useful to use your finger to pick up imperfections, such as folds and the type of paper used. Only recommended if your fingers are clean and dry beforehand!
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