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Silver Certificates

Silver Certificates

Author Unknown.

The Beginning of an Age

The "Coinage Act of 1873" placed the United States on the gold standard, which replaced the bimetallic (silver and gold) standard that had been created by Alexander Hamilton. Many of the poorer citizens saw this as a "crime," and silver agitation began. The Bland-Allison Act, as it came to be known, was passed by Congress on February 28, 1878. It did not provide for the "free and unlimited coinage of silver" demanded by Western miners, but it did require the United States Treasury to purchase between $2 million and $4 million of silver bullion from mining companies in the West. The silver coins that were to be minted would be legal tender for all debts, like gold. These coins, however, were quite heavy, so the government applied their gold certificate strategy to the silver. Suppose that there were five silver dollars in the treasury. The government would print a $5 Silver Certificate against the dollars, providing a somewhat easier medium of exchange. The idea was kept, and Series 1878 was printed in denominations of $10 to $1000.

The First Small-size Silver Certificates

In 1928, the United States Treasury decided to reduce the size of its currency in order to speed up transactions, and also to cut costs. By this time, the Federal Reserve had taken over much of the currency market, and the prices of gold and silver had risen greatly. For Series 1928, only $1 Silver Certificates were produced. Fives and tens of this time were mainly Federal Reserve Notes, which were backed by and redeemable in gold. All this would change, however, with the beginning of the Great Depression in October 1929. The United States was plunged into an economic disaster of profound proportions. Many citizens blamed the fluctuating price of gold, which directly affected the U.S. dollar because it was pegged to the value of gold.

President-elect Franklin Roosevelt felt the same way. He persuaded Congress to recall all gold coins, gold bullion, and gold certificates, which circulated alongside Silver Certificates. This prompted Congress to quietly place the U.S. on the silver standard. On May 12, 1933, the Agricultural Adjustment Act was passed, which included a clause allowing for the pumping of silver into the market to replace the gold. A new Series 1933 $10 Silver Certificate was printed and released, but not many were released into circulation.

In 1934, a law was passed in Congress that changed the obligation on Silver Certificates so as to denote the current location of the silver. This law also allowed the government to exchange silver bullion for the certificates, not just silver dollars. The 1933, along with its sister, the 1933A, $10 silvers, as well as the 1928 $1 silvers were phased out and replaced with certificates of Series 1934. The small-size $5 Silver Certificate was introduced with this series, as well.

The End of the Silver Certificates

Silver Certificates circulated, mainly in the $1 denomination, widely throughout the United States in the years following 1934. When the '34s wore out, they were replaced with a new, more modern-looking Series 1953, with the same face changes as the Series 1950 Federal Reserve Notes had experienced. However, the Silver Certificates began to disappear from circulation during the 1940s and 1950s. The amount of Silver Certificates in circulation depended directly upon the amount of silver bullion in the Treasury vaults. As people redeemed the certificates for bullion or silver dollars, the notes were shredded, because the notes had lost their backing and could not be recirculated unless there were more silver being produced. The price of silver was also rising. In 1960, it was nearing $1.29, which meant that silver dollars were worth more than $1. This meant that people would receive their silver dollars, and melt them down for the bullion, thereby reducing the amount of silver in circulation, which was already falling.

In March 1964, Secretary of the Treasury C. Douglas Dillon halted redemption of Silver Certificates for Silver Dollars. In the 1970s, large numbers of the remaining silver dollars in the mint vaults were sold to the collecting public for collector value. Silver Certificates were abolished by Congress on June 4, 1963 and all redemption in silver ceased on June 24, 1968. Paper currency is still valid legal tender without the Silver Certificate, instead being backed simply by the strength of the U.S. economy. According to the U.S. treasury, "The notes have no value for themselves, but for what they will buy. In another sense, because they are legal tender, Federal Reserve notes are "backed" by all the goods and services in the economy.

WARNING: Vol.38, No 4, in the April 2010 Edition of Banknote reporter there was a story on altered yellow seal notes. This story reports how on some yellow seal notes, the seal was chemical removed and had a blue seal printed in its place. The reason for this, the story reports, is because large quantities of these yellow seal notes could be deemed worthless, and the holders of the notes would be left holding worthless paper. To help other collectors find notes that have been converted from yellow to blue, Banknote reporter listed the serial ranges of the yellow seal notes. If you have a blue seal note with a serial that lies within the serial ranges listed below, it is probably an altered note.

The article that appered in the Banknote Reporter say that to date, all the $1 blue seal conversions have been series 1935A, all the $5's are 1934A, and most of the $10's are series 1934A, and that all the notes found thus far have been common. They do not specify what other series of $10 notes were used aside from the 1934A series.

For more information concerning the yellow to blue seal conversions, I suggest pickign up a copy of the obove mentioned Banknote Reporter edition.

$1 yellow seal serial ranges:
B30000001C - B31000000C
B51624001C - B52624000C
B99000001C - B99999999C
C60000001C - C62000000C
C78000001C - C79904000C
F41952001C - F419640000C
I30000001C - I40000000C
R90000001C - R99999999C
*68364001A - *68388000A
*70956001A - *71004000A
*79560001A - * 79632000A
*91104001A - *91128000A

$5 yellow seal serial ranges:
K34188001A - K34508000A
K36420001A - K36740000A
K37464001A - K37784000A
K40068001A - K42068000A
K43152001A - K44852000A
K53984001A - K65984000A
*10548001A - *10572000A
*10716001A - *10764000A
*10884001A - *11016000A

$10 yellow seal serial ranges:
A91044001A - B00904000A
B01564001A - B13564000A
*01008001A - *01284000A

$1 Silver Certificates

Here is an 1886 $1 note. One of a few notes to be printed that didnt depict a man, a representation of liberty, or an animal. Very few notes in US history depicted real women. This one shows Martha Washington.

  • Friedberg #220
  • Signatures of Rosecrans-Nebeker
1886 $1 obverse Cat# H-1-1 1886 $1 reverse Cat# H-1-1



Here is a 1896 Educational Series Silver Certificate. This collection of notes from the 1896 series is one of my absolute favorites. It was a true incorperation of Art into American currency. Even in this condition you can see the artistry.

  • Friedberg #224
  • Signatures of Tillman-Morgan
1896 $1 obverse Cat# H-1-2 1896 $1 reverse Cat# H-1-2
Obverse Reverse

An 1899 Black Flying Eagle $1 note. A beatiful vingette of an eagle ready for flight. A Stunning note.

  • Friedberg #228
  • Signatures of Vernon-Treat
1899 $1 obverse Cat# H-1-3 1899 $1 reverse Cat# H-1-3
Obverse Reverse

Another 1899 Black Flying Eagle. Only this time, with different signatures.

  • Friedberg #236
  • Signatures of Speelman-White
1899 $1 obverse Cat# H-1-4 1899 $1 reverse Cat# H-1-4
Obverse Reverse

Yet Another 1899 Flying Black Eagle. And this time, yet another signature.

  • Friedberg #233
  • Signatures of Teehee-Burke
1899 $1 obverse Cat# H-1-5 1899 $1 reverse Cat# H-1-5
Obverse Reverse

Here is a 1923 Funny back Silver Certificate. 1923 was the last year for large sized 'Horse Blankets', and was the year currency was converted to the smaller size we are familiar with today.

  • Friedberg #238
  • Signatures of Woods-White

Note donated by Victor

1923 $1 obverse FR-238 1923 $1 reverse FR-238
Obverse Reverse

A 1935B in excellent condition.

  • Friedberg #1611
  • Signatures of Julian-Vinson
1935B $1 Obverse cat H-1-7 1935B $1 Reverse cat H-1-7
Obverse Reverse

Here is a 1935C note. This note is also in excellent condition. I just love the color contrast silver certificates show when they are in the higher grades.

  • Friedberg #1612
  • Signatures of Julian-Snyder
1935C $1 Obverse cat H-1-60 1935C $1 Reverse cat H-1-60
Obverse Reverse

This note, dated 1935D, has seen a little more wear then the above examples. Still in very good shape considering the date.

  • Friedberg #1613
  • Signatures of Clark-Snyder
1935D $1 Obverse Cat H-1-9 1935D $1 Reverse Cat H-1-9
Obverse Reverse

A 1935E in superb condition. Excellent paper, perfect press.. the only down side is the margins are not all equal. But that didnt stop me from wanting it! Look at the super low serial number!

  • Friedberg #1614
  • Signatures of Priest-Humphrey
1935E $1 Obverse Cat H-1-12 1935E $1 reverse Cat H-1-12
Obverse Reverse

Here is another very nice looking crisp 1935E note. borders are off a bit, as well as some slight discoloration, but overall in excellent shape.

  • Friedberg #1614
  • Signatures of Priest-Humphrey
1935E $1 obverse Cat H-1-16 1935E $1 reverse Cat H-1-12
Obverse Reverse

A 1935F that has seen a lot of circulation. This note certainly has alot of history as it has circulated throught the years.

  • Friedberg #1615
  • Signatures of Priest-Anderson
1935F $1 Obverse Cat H-1-18 1935F $1 Reverse Cat H-1-18
Obverse Reverse

A 1935F star note. One of a few silver certificate star notes i own. This note has also passed through alot of hands, a very well circulated note.

  • Friedberg #1615*
  • Signatures of Priest-Anderson
1935F Star Note $1 Obverse 1935F Star Note $1 Reverse
Obverse Reverse

This note is dated 1935G. A mid range circulated note. Still has some nice edge borders, although the corners show some bending.

  • Friedberg #1616
  • Signatures of Smith-Dillon
1935G $1 Obverse Cat H-1-24 1935G $1 Reverse Cat H-1-24
Obverse Reverse

Another star note, a 1935G. A bit of wear is evident. Heavily creased and edges are split, with corners long past sharp and crisp. But, i am a sucker for star notes!

  • Friedberg #1616*
  • Signatures of Smith-Dillon
1935G star note $1 Obverse Cat H-1-20 1935G star note $1 Reverse Cat H-1-20
Obverse Reverse

Here is a 1957 dated 1 dollar note.

  • Friedberg # 1619
  • Signatures: Priest / Anderson
Silver certificate 1 dollar 1957 obverse FR-1619 Silver certificate 1 dollar 1957 reverse FR-1619
Obverse Reverse

This 1 dollar note is dated 1957.

  • Friedberg # 1619*
  • Signatures: Priest / Anderson
Silver certificate 1 dollar 1957 obverse FR-1619* Silver certificate 1 dollar 1957 reverse FR-1619*
Obverse Reverse

This note is a 1957A series 1 dollar Silver Certificate.

  • Friedberg # 1620
  • Signatures: Smith / Dillon
Silver certificate 1 dollar 1957A obverse FR-1620* Silver certificate 1 dollar 1957A reverse FR-1620*
Obverse Reverse

Here is a 1957A Star note valued at 1 dollar.

  • Friedberg # 1620*
  • Signatures: Smith / Dillon
Silver certificate 1 dollar 1957A obverse FR-1620 Star Silver certificate 1 dollar 1957A reverse FR-1620*
Obverse Reverse
A 1957B note. Has even wear with some minor creases and the normal cross folds down the center seen on more circulated notes. A low serial aside for the very high WA block.
  • Friedberg #1621
  • Signatures of Granahan-Dillon
1957 $1 Obverse Cat H-1-51 1957 $1 Obverse Cat H-1-51
Obverse Reverse
A 1957B star note. Another note with some heavy circulation splashed across its face (and back). These notes, with heavy folds, and thick stains - i dont think i will ever get graded :)
  • Friedberg #1621*
  • Signatures of Granahan-Dillon
1957B Star Note $1 Obverse Cat H-1-46 1957B Star Note $1 Reverse Cat H-1-46
Obverse Reverse

A 1935a silver certificate with the overstamp of 'HAWAII'. This note was actually used in hawaii after the bombing of Pearl Harbour. The fear was that Japan would attack and take control of Hawaii. These notes were issued instead of normal notes, so if Japan did take control of Hawaii, the overstamped notes could quickly be deemed worthless.

  • Friedberg #2300
  • Signatures of Julian / Morenthau
1935a hawaii obverse P-1-1 1935a hawaii reverse P-1-1
Obverse Reverse

$2 Silver Certificates

This is an AWSOME 1899 2 dollar note. The intricacy of the engraving is just gorgeous.

  • Friedberg #257
  • Signatures of Elliott-Burke
1899 $2 obverse Cat# H-2-1 1899 $2 reverse Cat# H-2-1
Obverse Reverse

$5 Silver Certificates

Here is an 1899 5 dollar note. Another one of my absolute favorite notes. Its really no surprise why most of my favorite notes are Silver Certificates, the artistic designs were some of the best ever done. This note depicts "Ta-to-ka-in-yan-ka" otherwise know as 'Running Antelope' of the Souix tribe.

  • Friedberg #274
  • Signatures of Vernon-McClung
1899 $5 obverse Cat# H-5-1 1899 $5 reverse Cat# H-5-1
Obverse Reverse

This note is a 5 dollar Silver certificate from the 1934A series.

  • Friedberg # 1650
  • Signatures: Julian / Morenthau
Silver certificate 5 dollar 1934A obverse FR-1650 Silver certificate 5 dollar 1934A reverse FR-1650
Obverse Reverse

Here is a 5 dollar note from the 1934D series.

  • Friedberg # 1654
  • Signatures: Clark / Snyder
Silver certificate 5 dollar 1934D obverse FR-1654 Silver certificate 5 dollar 1934D reverse FR-1654
Obverse Reverse

A Superb 1953A $5 silver certificate. Good margins, crisp corners and a nice even print across the note.

  • Friedberg #1656
  • Signatures of Priest-Anderson
1953A $5 Obverse Cat H-5-7 1953A $5 Reverse Cat H-5-7
Obverse Reverse

A 1953B note. Crisp, bright blues, an overall nice Silver Certificate.

  • Friedberg #1657
  • Signatures of Smith-Dillon
Silver certificate 5 dollar 1953B obverse FR-1657 Silver certificate 5 dollar 1953B reverse FR-1657
Obverse Reverse

$10 Silver Certificates

Here is one of Favorite notes. An 1886 10 dollar 'Tombstone' note. So named for the shape around the central portrait. The Vice President, Thomas Hendricks, died 6 months into office.

  • Friedberg #293
  • Signatures of Rosecrans-Hyatt
1886 $10 obverse Cat# H-10-2 1886 $10 reverse Cat# H-10-2
Obverse Reverse

This 10 dollar note was part of the 1934C series.

  • Friedberg #1704
  • Signatures: Julian - Snyder
Silver certificate 10 dollar 1934C obverse FR-1704 Silver certificate 10 dollar 1934C reverse FR-1704
Obverse Reverse

This 1934D series note is valued at 10 dollars.

  • Friedberg #1705
  • Signatures: Clark / Snyder
Silver certificate 10 dollar 1934D obverse FR-1705 Silver certificate 10 dollar 1934D reverse FR-1705
Obverse Reverse

This 1934A note is valued at 10 Dollars. This note was issued for use by the armed forces in Europe and North Africa during the war. The note carries the design of other 10 Dollar silver certificate notes of the time, but carries the 'Yellow' seal to distinguish it in case the notes were captured, they could easily be deemed worthless.

  • Friedberg #2309
  • Signatures of Julian / Morgenthau
Silver Certificate 10 Dollar 1934-A Africa obverse FR-2309 Silver Certificate 10 Dollar 1934-A Africa reverse FR-2309
Obverse Reverse

$1000 Silver Certificates

Here is a 1000 dollar intaglio note. A note I could never afford otherwise. Intaglio notes are printed on one side only, using the same specifications as the originals. They are Printed 'legally' by the BEP. 1891 $1000 intaglio obverse Reverse is left intentionaly blank on intaglio prints.
Obverse Reverse

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