Our philosophy

ICG has a firm commitment to support the spread of the wonderful hobby of paper money collecting by upholding high standards of grading. Grading is a central element of the hobby and we firmly believe that maintaining good grading standards will attract a growing number of new collectors to paper money. Conversely, sloppy grading, or worse, grading which seeks to improve the appearance or the value of banknotes by overlooking their flaws will discourage new collectors and is a growing threat to the hobby.


But what exactly constitutes “good grading”? It is hard to say with certainty, and there might be different answers to the question depending on who you ask.


Still, at ICG we believe there are certain principles which exemplify a grader’s “best practice”, because they make grading predictable, allowing collectors to know what to expect when they buy a certain grade and allowing them to compare notes in their collection in a consistent way. These are the principles which constitute ICG’s grading philosophy:


  1. Attention to detail. We will describe every feature of a banknote that is relevant to its grading, not overlooking key aspects such as whether a note has been cleaned or pressed, whether it has pinholes or nicks or whether it may have been trimmed. All of these faults can be difficult to spot at first sight or on certain notes, particularly if they are encapsulated.
  2. Conservative grading. When grading notes, we at ICG try to assign grades which are accurate and which fit the descriptions of our grading scale. But it can sometimes be hard to agree on what constitutes accurate grading in a field where different collectors and dealers take different views. For that reason, when in doubt, we will be conservative. Our philosophy is to avoid overgrading, because excessively optimistic grading will in the long run disappoint both new and seasoned collectors.
  3. Consistency. Having settled on a grading system which is detailed and generally conservative, we put special emphasis on being consistent. The graders at ICG are trained to apply the same grading principles on every note we grade, so that when collectors compare notes which carry the same ICG grade they should not be able to find any meaningful grading differences. An ICG “AU+/ 58” note will always look like every other ICG/58 note.


But there is more to the ICG philosophy than best grading practices. We also seek to provide a pleasant and satisfactory experience to our clients, reducing the hassle of sending your notes for grading as much as we can.


That is why, for example, we have simplified the process of shipping your notes to us as much as possible. You can always ship your notes directly, without the intermediation of a dealer and without any club membership or joining fees. In order to further reduce the hassle, we have also simplified the range of services and rates you can choose at ICG. Just five simple service levels depending on the value and number of notes you send in for grading. No special or hidden rates for older notes, specimens, errors, replacements, unlisted or oversized notes.


And while your notes are in our custody, we have put in place a practice of safekeeping and careful handling which ensures that your precious notes will be as safe as when they are under your supervision. While your notes are at ICG, you can also view their status every step of the way and ICG will inform you by email of any changes in status so that you can track your notes all the way back to you.


Once your order is ready to ship back to you we will pack your notes safely and expertly and we will use top quality shipping services with tracking numbers, again to ensure that you don’t lose any sleep over the ultimate wellbeing of your collectibles.


However, in the unlikely event that an accident occurs and your notes are damaged or lost while under the supervision of ICG, we have in place an insurance policy which will cover the value of your notes as described in the ICG Service Terms & Conditions. Our insurance policy covers also the risk of loss while your notes are in transit back to you after being graded and released by ICG.


We sincerely hope that our grading principles and our client service will satisfy you and will make your dealings with ICG a pleasant and rewarding experience.