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PMG is the Offical Grading Service of the Paper Money Forum
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jdizzle
I'm curious as to your thoughts on the PMG EPQ Star (EPQ*) designation and how it affects a note's value both in the Uncirculated and Circulated grades.  Personally, I love the EPQ* designation and own a handful of notes with it (2x Large at 35EPQ*, 2x Small at 64EPQ*, & 2x Small at 66EPQ*).  

As a collector who sees paper money numismatics both as (#1) a hobby that I truly love and (#2) as an investment, I subscribe to the theory of "buy the note and not the holder".  Therefore, I will rarely buy a note based on grade alone. As a collector, I need to love the note that I'm adding to my set.  As an investment, I've finally learned not to buy notes if the ROI isn't flat or better.  But I have paid a premium (I didn't go too crazy) to pick up a few notes for my set that have the EPQ* designation.  With that said...

How do you view the EPQ* designation in regards to increased desirability to own?  Obviously, desirability is a personal preference, but I'm curious on inputs nonetheless.  

How do you view the EPQ* designation in regards to adding value to a respective note with it compared to one without it?  I know the question is relative and I feel it depends on a variety of factors such as the era it was printed, the rarity factor, population report data, etc. but I'm curious as to what you have seen historically and are currently seeing in the market.  

Thanks in advance!
Enamored with VF-35 and lower grade PPQ/EPQ notes!
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jhodgson
I just received a 58 EPQ* on a Hawaii note. Really? Not a CU but better than AU? I’m confused...

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jdizzle
Hey jhodgson - that is an absolutely killer note if it received a 58EPQ*.  Check out the following from the PMG website detailing what the * designation means:

PMG assigns the PMG Star Designation to notes with exceptional eye appeal for their assigned grade.

While eye appeal is one of the most subjective characteristics of notes, there are general standards which numismatists typically use to define exceptional eye appeal. To receive a  from PMG, notes must exhibit exceptionally strong plate and / or overprint embossing, vibrant ink color, and pristine paper quality exceeding the well-established standards used to determine the Exceptional Paper Quality (EPQ) Designation.

All US and world notes are automatically evaluated for the distinction of the PMG Star () Designation. Notes that do not qualify for the EPQ Designation will be disqualified from receiving the Star Designation.

It is important to note that the  is assigned irrespective of the note’s numeric grade. For example, a PMG Gem Uncirculated 65 may be at the low, middle or high end of the PMG Gem Uncirculated 65 grade.

https://www.pmgnotes.com/paper-money-grading/grading-scale/
Enamored with VF-35 and lower grade PPQ/EPQ notes!
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Steve in Tampa
When I hear Low Middle and High end of a numerical grade, I automatically assume you’re talking about coins.
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TookyBandit
It’s eye appeal, embossing, color, lack of pack dust, ink smudges, etc. Every Star Designation example I’ve seen is super attractive and worthy of a premium.
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HoneyBadger
Personally, I find it kinda silly. And I say that as a big proponent of PMG graded notes. The only possibly value I could see is if the star designated note were to exhibit exceptionally bold color or embossing, but they already put those designations on the backs of the holder. So...yeah.

But if someone likes the star designation, that’s fine by me as well. I just don’t find it useful at the moment.
FRN Collections Complete - 1928-1934 LGS: $5 [87%] - $10 [37%] - $20 [2%] - $50 [6%] - $100 [0%] - $500 [0%]

http://www.1928notes.com - If you have a new note to add, please let me know.
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NortonII
Permit me to grumble that the eye-appeal designation would be much more useful if it were indicated by something other than a STAR.  The star symbol already has quite another meaning in the context of United States currency.  What were PMG thinking when they decided to redefine it?
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HoneyBadger
NortonII wrote:
Permit me to grumble that the eye-appeal designation would be much more useful if it were indicated by something other than a STAR.  The star symbol already has quite another meaning in the context of United States currency.  What were PMG thinking when they decided to redefine it?


I totally agree with this. Having to say “star designation” is potentially too confusing. I have been fooled a time or two when I see 65EPQ* and I open the link to the listing in haste only to find a non-replacement note. Maybe they should have put a little trophy symbol or a ribbon or something.

Also, I hate lack of symmetry on something where symmetry is not that hard to achieve. Try lining up a column of PMG graded note holders with the grades all in a nice vertical row. The star symbol bumps the numerical grade over to the left. It just looks awkward.
FRN Collections Complete - 1928-1934 LGS: $5 [87%] - $10 [37%] - $20 [2%] - $50 [6%] - $100 [0%] - $500 [0%]

http://www.1928notes.com - If you have a new note to add, please let me know.
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Springfield
I think the star designation added to the grade is useless. If it is considered like a half grade point, then round up to the nearest whole number grade.

This is my opinion only and may differ from that of other forum members.

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jdizzle
Steve in Tampa wrote:
When I hear Low Middle and High end of a numerical grade, I automatically assume you’re talking about coins.


I completely agree and I think I understand the message they were trying to convey, but the wording is nothing short of atrocious (in my opinion).  The Gem-65 low, mid, and high is extremely misleading as a note that just barely scraped by to get a 65 (instead of a 64) shouldn't qualify for an EPQ* designation.  But a 65 that is all of a 67+ in eye appeal along with dark rich ink, near-perfect punch-through embossing, etc., but has margins that are barely outside of a making a 66, it should qualify for consideration.

I think they were aiming for something along the lines of...we can give an EPQ* designation to a VF-25EPQ note if it has the eye appeal of a much higher grade (AU for example) and the rest of killer attributes, but the number of light folds doesn't allow it to even get a 30EPQ.  That's just how I interpret the EPQ* designation based on the notes I've seen.
Enamored with VF-35 and lower grade PPQ/EPQ notes!
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TookyBandit
I’ve had PMG notes with the comments on the back: “Exceptional Paper Quality, Great Color, and Great Embossing” ...also nicknamed The Trifecta, receive the Star Designation after submitting the notes for review.
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mebid2much
I think it’s a plus to have a star added to the grade. But I don’t think that will affect the value of the note. And it won’t affect my purchase decision.
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jordon
I like cherry-picking notes that have good eye appeal for their grade. I don't like the star designation because it makes that easier for everyone. :)
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Nicaragua
jdizzle wrote:


I completely agree and I think I understand the message they were trying to convey, but the wording is nothing short of atrocious (in my opinion).  The Gem-65 low, mid, and high is extremely misleading as a note that just barely scraped by to get a 65 (instead of a 64) shouldn't qualify for an EPQ* designation.  But a 65 that is all of a 67+ in eye appeal along with dark rich ink, near-perfect punch-through embossing, etc., but has margins that are barely outside of a making a 66, it should qualify for consideration.

I think they were aiming for something along the lines of...we can give an EPQ* designation to a VF-25EPQ note if it has the eye appeal of a much higher grade (AU for example) and the rest of killer attributes, but the number of light folds doesn't allow it to even get a 30EPQ.  That's just how I interpret the EPQ* designation based on the notes I've seen.


PMG states that is it is important to understand that the * (Star) designation is assigned IRRESPECTIVE of the note’s numeric EPQ grade. I would not interpret a VF25EPQ* as meaning it worthy of a higher numeric grade. I would interpret that the numeric grade is correct, but that the note exhibits exceptionally strong plate and / or overprint embossing, vibrant ink color, and pristine paper quality exceeding the well-established standards used to determine the Exceptional Paper Quality (EPQ) Designation. Is it worth paying a premium price for a VF25EPQ* (Star) over a VF25 EPQ? - in my opinion, yes.
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EarlySmallSizeFanatic
jhodgson wrote:
I just received a 58 EPQ* on a Hawaii note. Really? Not a CU but better than AU? I’m confused...


Can you see why it got a 58 ? Corner fold into design, faint bend, ?????

I think the star designation is a stupid marketing ploy, and would not pay a premium for these. Isn't exceptional eye appeal a qualification for EPQ ?

I also think the grading companies are getting much too strict on grades, where ten or so years ago, they were too lax. 
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jhodgson
EarlySmallSizeFanatic wrote:


Can you see why it got a 58 ? Corner fold into design, faint bend, ?????

I think the star designation is a stupid marketing ploy, and would not pay a premium for these. Isn't exceptional eye appeal a qualification for EPQ ?

I also think the grading companies are getting much too strict on grades, where ten or so years ago, they were too lax. 


Correct. It is a beautiful note, but has a paper wave that cuts across the top right corner. It has the ‘U’ valley look, not a ‘V’ like a fold. To me it looks like PMG didn’t know if it should grade 65 or 58, so the compromise was 58 EPQ*.

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YoungCollector
NortonII wrote:
Permit me to grumble that the eye-appeal designation would be much more useful if it were indicated by something other than a STAR.  The star symbol already has quite another meaning in the context of United States currency.  What were PMG thinking when they decided to redefine it?


They were lazy and just copying coins
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YoungCollector
jordon wrote:
I like cherry-picking notes that have good eye appeal for their grade. I don't like the star designation because it makes that easier for everyone. 😉


I was about to say the same, instead, I will say this:

I was once looking at a heritage auction with about ten old portrait paintings for sale, all estimated at $20-30k.  I picked one I liked and left a $40k bid.  Every painting went within estimate except the one I bid on, which went for like $80k.  Later a friend of mine explained the problem to me.  I had bid on the only one with a young and pretty dutchess. The others were guys or matronly women.   Auctioneers don't always like to factor this in - but buyers sure do!

Today I find that 1870's legal tenders and (more rarely) silver's with great bright red overprints often slip through at a reasonable price.  Many of these notes put rainbows to shame.  Hard to capture this with numbers, stars, and EPQ's!

TwentyUpClose.jpg
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EarlySmallSizeFanatic
jhodgson wrote:


Correct. It is a beautiful note, but has a paper wave that cuts across the top right corner. It has the ‘U’ valley look, not a ‘V’ like a fold. To me it looks like PMG didn’t know if it should grade 65 or 58, so the compromise was 58 EPQ*.


Sound like an as made thing. Those are the kind of 58's that a collector on a budget dream about. [wink]

Assuming centering and embossing are good, that should have gotten a 64 or 65Q IMO. 

1934 JA LGS ten.jpg 
Here's one of mine, under graded. Embossing is all there, though nothing special. Note has absolutely no folds or bends, but the back left margin shows substantial handling on close examination. IMO this should have gotten no less than a 58Q and no more than a 62Q (I call it a 61Q). This note is a classic slider grade note. 

1934 JA lgs five.jpg 
Here is a properly graded 55Q. Note has a faint fold and a bend. 


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larry510
Here's my opinion. Some notes with the star designation do in fact really look exceptional. However I have seen too many that did not impress. So there's definitely inconsistentcy there.
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vcavo
Picking a exceptional quality note over a good quality note depends totally on the overall quality of a note, not just the technical aspects. 
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Nicaragua
EarlySmallSizeFanatic wrote:


Can you see why it got a 58 ? Corner fold into design, faint bend, ?????

I think the star designation is a stupid marketing ploy, and would not pay a premium for these. Isn't exceptional eye appeal a qualification for EPQ ?

I also think the grading companies are getting much too strict on grades, where ten or so years ago, they were too lax. 


According to PMG, "An Exceptional Paper Quality (EPQ) note is, in the opinion of PMG graders, completely original. EPQ notes will not have been physically, chemically, or materially processed to give the appearance of a higher grade". Eye appeal is thus not specifically part of PMG's EPQ definition. Eye appeal is however covered under PMG's * (Star) definition: "PMG assigns the PMG Star (*) Designation to notes with exceptional eye appeal for their assigned grade".
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telephoto1
First and foremost I look at the note. I don't care about the holder, numbers, stars, stickers or letters. I don't even care if it's not in a holder. It's always about the item and whether it meets MY criteria. Everything else is marketing fluff and look-at-me registry whizzing contests.
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Nicaragua
telephoto1 wrote:
First and foremost I look at the note. I don't care about the holder, numbers, stars, stickers or letters. I don't even care if it's not in a holder. It's always about the item and whether it meets MY criteria. Everything else is marketing fluff and look-at-me registry whizzing contests.


No disagreement that everyone should decide for themselves whether a note is worth buying or not, but there is little doubt that if you are buying a note based on a picture online and not able to physically see it in your hands before you buy it, having a 3rd party opinion that it is of exceptional paper quality and has exceptional eye appeal for the grade provides an additional level of confidence in purchasing. 
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Steve in Tampa
I don’t know if it’s possible, but I find myself agreeing with both telephoto1 AND Nicargua’s opinions. Both well spoken and in my line of reasoning.
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