Collecting Silver Certificates

Silver Certificates were first created in 1878 in response to the citizens’ request to use silver minted currency as a way to pay for transactions. A previous Act, the Fourth Coinage Act, had made gold the only legal tender for all debts public and private. The 1878 Bland-Allison act restored silver minted currency but the weight of the coins minted became an issue in its use.

It was at this time that Silver Certificates were created as a form of paper currency that was redeemable in an equal amount of Silver Dollars. For every dollar value of Silver Certificate in circulation a corresponding Silver Dollar was kept at a U.S. Treasury location. At any time a bearer of a Silver Certificate could redeem the certificate for the corresponding amount of Silver Dollars.

The certificates were used up to the year 1964 when the rising cost of silver forced them out of circulation. Their only value now is by collectors who seek their unique place in history of when the United States currency was backed by silver and gold.

Silver Certificates as a collectible are hard to come by as unlike their fiat coinage counterparts, such as pre 1965 quarters and dimes with silver content, are not in active circulation by their face value. In addition the closeness to the likeness of an actual one or five dollar bill means most people will hold on to them believing them to be actual money. The only difference in later series Silver Certificates from their fiat counterparts is usually the statement “This certifies that there is on deposit in the Treasury of the United States of America $$ dollar(s) in silver payable to the bearer on demand." written across the horizontal margins on the front of the bill.

Paper money price guides can help you determine the collectors’ value of these prized certificates if you are lucky enough to gain possession of one. However the value of their place in history might just keep you holding on to them rather than sell them for their collector’s value.

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