Exceptional Paper Quality (EPQ)
Chad Hawk, PMG grader, discusses what may prevent a note from receiving EPQ.
“Why didn’t I get EPQ?” We get this question often. Exceptional Paper Quality (EPQ) is an important attribution that can add significant value, so it is important to understand. This month I will review some of the factors that prevent a note from receiving the EPQ attribution.
First, let’s review the criteria for the EPQ designation. PMG uses the EPQ designation for notes that have not been physically, chemically or materially processed to lend the appearance of a higher grade.
Some visible factors that prevent a note from receiving EPQ are pinholes, stains, stray ink, paper pulls, erasures, tears and splits. These are visible even to the untrained eye. In some cases, a single pinhole may not prevent EPQ if it is located in an area that does not distract from the note's overall eye appeal. The presence of any of the other factors mentioned will always result in the loss of EPQ.
Some factors that are much more difficult to detect are pressing, re-embossing, washing, hinging / adhesive and repairs.
Pressing removes contours in the paper leaving little to no trace of the original paper wave or embossing from serial numbers and seals. Pressed notes are particularly difficult to detect without experience with specific paper types. Since notes are printed on a variety of papers, familiarity with the physical texture of each paper type makes it easier to detect when the properties are missing. Pressing can be applied selectively, so it's important to carefully examine the entire note even if some areas appear original. Common areas of selective pressing are the corners and the center of the note. Since these areas do not contain any embossing, pressing is much more difficult to recognize.
Re-embossing is another process that's difficult to detect. Serial numbers are printed by a letter press and leave a raised area on the back of the note behind the serial number. Embossing ranges from light to very strong, depending on the type of note. Since pressing eliminates the contours and texture of the paper, re-embossing is often used to disguise it. Re-embossing can be detected by closely examining the embossing on the back of the note to see if the lines match up with the numbers and lines on the front. It is very difficult to match the serial number embossing due to the block style numbers used on many notes. Seal embossing is also very difficult to match due to the detail. Often, thinner, uneven lines are seen in these areas, so you should be leery if detail is inconsistent and the paper feels very flat and lacks texture. Pressing and re-embossing are common among many types of notes in the US and other countries.
Washed notes exhibit lighter, faded colors and may have scent traces of the cleaning agent. Many bleached notes look blue. Washing is typically seen around areas that have been stained.
Hinging is most common on Fractional Currency due to the fact that many notes were hinged and mounted onto Fractional Shields. Hinging most often occurs in the corners and the residue is usually on the back of notes, since notes were displayed with the front facing out. Hinge remnants are detectable by bouncing light off the area, which creates a glare off the hinge residue.
Hopefully, this information will help you understand and detect some of the major factors that prevent a note from receiving the EPQ designation.