Silver certificates are perhaps the most popular and most collected type of United States paper currency. Many collectors invest in silver certificates because of their rich history and unique quality. However, serious currency investors collect these notes for their monetary value and potential for appreciation.
If you’re wondering what silver certificates are and whether they’re a worthy investment today, this article is for you. Here, you’ll learn more about silver certificates, where they originated, their current value, and how to invest in them.
A silver certificate is a type of money that the United States issued between 1878 and 1964 as part of its paper currency circulation. Initially, people could redeem silver certificates for their face value of silver dollars.
However, you cannot redeem these certificates for their face value in silver coinage today. Still, silver certificates remain legal tender, and you can redeem them for their face value in Federal Reserve Notes.
Silver certificates date back to 1878. They came into existence following the Coinage Act of 1873, a law that prohibited silver bullion owners from having them minted into legal tender money.
It validated the gold standard use in the U.S. and ended bimetallism. Bimetallism is a monetary system that allows two metals to be used as legal tender, usually gold and silver. The policies of this law aggravated millions of supporters of the 19th century Free Silver movement.
William Jennings Bryan, a Democratic presidential candidate, was one of the supporters, and he called for the expansion of pro-silver policies in his famous “Cross of Gold” speech. The introduction of silver certificates in 1878 resulted partly from the socioeconomic fallout resulting from the 1873 Coinage Act, defeating the unlimited minting of silver into legal tender.
The denominations of the first silver certificates range from $10 to $1,000. The government authorized the printing of $1, $2, and $5 denominations in 1886.
Silver certificates are usually referred to as small and large certificates, and those issued between 1878 and 1923 were larger. They measured at least seven inches long and three inches wide.
People often called these large notes “horse blankets,” a witty reference to their size compared to the smaller-sized notes issued in 1928. The designs of these notes varied and depicted former presidents, vice presidents, founding fathers, first ladies, and other prominent personalities.
The small certificates measured 6.4 inches long and 2.6 inches wide, the same size as today’s U.S. currency. These notes feature the portraits of Abraham Lincoln, Alexander Hamilton, or George Washington. Generally, the value of a silver certificate is not directly proportional to its denomination or size.
Do you have some silver certificates and want to know their value? The value of a silver certificate depends on several factors, and the following general rules will help you estimate how much your silver certificate is worth.
The first step in determining the value of a silver certificate is to determine the note’s face value or denomination. The face value appears in large numerals and words such as “Ten Dollars.” Because silver certificates remain legal tender to date, the value of any note should not be less than its face value.
Also referred to as the year or date, series is a type or class of currency associated with a given year. It0 generally indicates a change in authorization or design on large-sized notes. However, it signified a change in the signature combinations on the face of small-sized notes.
This means the government can use the same series date for years if the design or signature combinations remain unchanged.
When the U.S. first printed paper currency, one or multiple authorized individuals would sign each note. Over time, thousands of notes were printed, which became challenging for individuals to sign by hand.
The first silver certificates issued in 1878 were signed by hand, and the authorized signatures included the Treasurer of the United States and the Register of the Treasury. For later notes, signatures were imprinted during the automated printing process, and the authorized signatures included the Secretary of the Treasury and the Treasurer of the United States.
The condition of your silver certificate can affect its value. Your note will be worth much more if it is in excellent condition than it would be if it has been in circulation and is folded, torn, or crumpled. If a note has been kept safe since its printing and is in mint condition, the value will be much higher.
The grading scale used for grading paper money is similar to the one used for grading coins. The scale is in a continuous sequence from 1 to 70, with 70 signifying a perfect note, and 1 is a poor, hardly identifiable note.
If your note features a fancy serial number or a star, it’s likely to have a premium numismatic value. Here are some of the serial numbers for which collectors would pay top dollar:
Radar notes (same numerals forward and backward) such as 123454321
Very low or very high figures such as 000000001 or 999999999
The value of a silver certificate today largely depends on its value to collectors and usually varies depending on the year issued, condition, and signatures.
Today’s most collected silver certificates are those issued between 1935 and 1957, and they closely resemble a standard dollar bill with George Washington’s portrait on the front. However, the silver certificate dollar has written words below Washington, stating that it is “one dollar in silver payable to the bearer on demand.”
The value of these silver certificates is generally a small premium over their face value. For example, circulated certificates usually cost anywhere between $1 and $1.50 a piece, whereas their circulated counterparts can sell for $2 to $4 each.
The value of earlier issued silver certificates is usually higher, with the 1899 silver certificate featuring an eagle on the front selling for $40 to $250, depending on condition. If you’re selling the large-sized 1923 silver certificate with George Washington, a collector may give you between $20 to $50, depending on its condition.
Other silver certificates, such as those featuring Martha Washington or the Vignette of History Instructing Young, are worth much more. For example, the 1896 design in an excellent condition can sell for at least $1,000.
If you have a silver certificate that you want to put up for sale, the most effective way to determine its current value is to have it appraised by several different collectors.
Do you want to venture into collecting silver certificates but don’t know where to start? There are several strategies to consider, such as collecting certificates based on the Federal Reserve seals, the series of a particular denomination, or every denomination from a specified period.
Some collectors create a type-set comprising one example of every denomination and each signature or series. Others have built a complete collection of silver certificates, cutting across all series and denominations from 1878 to 1964.
Whatever collection strategy you decide to employ, go for it! There’s no one-fits-all formula for collecting silver certificates, but be sure the notes you purchase are in the best condition possible. Also, avoid being scammed by involving reputable dealers to provide honest valuations of the certificates before purchasing them.
By investing in high-quality silver certificates, you’ll be able to build a valuable collection. Well-kept notes with minimal to zero detracting marks usually stay in perfect condition longer – and the longer you keep your silver certificates, the higher the chance of getting a better return on investment when you decide to sell them.
Investing in gold and other precious metals is a complex undertaking, and you should leave it to the experts if you don’t have in-depth knowledge or experience. If you’re looking to invest in gold for savings or retirement purposes, you can trust the experts at Oxford Gold Group to show you how to do it right.
We’ve been in the business for decades and know the risks and advantages regarding gold investments. Our highly trained and experienced team of experts will work with you to ensure your investments are safe and secure.
Are you interested in converting your savings or retirement account into gold or other precious metals? Let the professionals at Oxford Gold Group help you with your investments, and you can rest assured that you will reach your financial goals.
When you work with us, you don’t have to worry about your assets and personal data safety. Call us at 833-600-GOLD (4653) or visit our Contact Page for more information!.
INSIDE THIS INVESTMENT GUIDE YOU WILL LEARN:
• How Gold & Silver can protect your savings & retirement accounts
• Types of Gold & Silver products available for Home Delivery
• How a Gold & Silver IRA can protect your Retirement account