Silver certificates are a type of representative money issued between 1878 and 1964 in the United States as part of its circulation of paper currency.They were produced in response to silver agitation by citizens who were angered by the Fourth Coinage Act, which had effectively placed the United States on a gold standard. The certificates were initially redeemable for their face value of silver dollar coins and later (for one year – June 24, 1967 to June 24, 1968) in raw silver bullion. Since 1968 they have been redeemable only in Federal Reserve Notes and are thus obsolete, but still valid legal tender at their face value and thus are still an accepted form of currency.
Large-size silver certificates (1878 to 1923)were issued initially in denominations from $10 to $1,000 (in 1878 and 1880) and in 1886 the $1, $2, and $5 were authorized. In 1928, all United States bank notes were re-designed and the size reduced. The small-size silver certificate (1928–1964) was only regularly issued in denominations of $1, $5, and $10. The complete type set below is part of the National Numismatic Collection at the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History.
The Coinage Act of 1873 intentionally million and $4 million of silver bullion per month from mining companies in the West, to be minted into coins.omitted language authorizing the coinage of “standard” silver dollars and ended the bimetallic standard that had been created by Alexander Hamilton. While the Coinage Act of 1873 stopped production of silver dollars, it was the 1874 adoption of Section 3568 of the Revised Statutes that actually removed legal tender status from silver certificates in the payment of debts exceeding five dollars. By 1875 business interests invested in silver (e.g., Western banks, mining companies) wanted the bimetallic standard restored. People began to refer to the passage of the Act as the Crime of '73. Prompted by a sharp decline in the value of silver in 1876, Congressional representatives from Nevada and Colorado, states responsible for over 40% of the world's silver yield in the 1870s and 1880s, began lobbying for change. Further public agitation for silver use was driven by fear that there was not enough money in the community. Members of Congress claimed ignorance that the 1873 law would lead to the demonetization of silver, despite having had three years to review the bill prior to enacting it to law. Some blamed the passage of the Act on a number of external factors including a conspiracy involving foreign investors and government conspirators. In response, the Bland–Allison Act, as it came to be known, was passed by Congress (over a presidential veto) on 28 February 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
The first silver certificates (Series 1878) were issued in denominations of $10 through $1,000. million (between $3 and $9 million per year), while absorbing over 60% of U.S. silver production.Reception by financial institutions was cautious. While more convenient and less bulky than dollar coins, the silver certificate was not accepted for all transactions. The Bland–Allison Act established that they were “receivable for customs, taxes, and all public dues,” and could be included in bank reserves, but silver certificates were not explicitly considered legal tender for private interactions (i.e., between individuals). Congress used the National Banking Act of July 12, 1882 to clarify the legal tender status of silver certificates by clearly authorizing them to be included in the lawful reserves of national banks. A general appropriations act of 4 August 1886 authorized the issue of $1, $2, and $5 silver certificates. The introduction of low-denomination currency (as denominations of U.S. Notes under $5 were put on hold) greatly increased circulation. Over the 12-year lifespan of the Bland–Allison Act, the United States government would receive a seigniorage amounting to roughly $68
Treasury Secretary Franklin MacVeagh (1909–13) appointed a committee to investigate possible advantages (e.g., reduced cost, increased production speed) to issuing smaller sized United States banknotes.Due in part to the outbreak of World War I and the end of his appointed term, any recommendations may have stalled. On August 20, 1925, Treasury Secretary Andrew W. Mellon appointed a similar committee and in May 1927 accepted their recommendations for the size reduction and redesign of U.S. banknotes. On July 10, 1929 the new small-size currency was issued.
In keeping with the verbiage on large-size silver certificates, all the small-size Series 1928 certificates carried the obligation "This certifies that there has (or have) been deposited in the Treasury of the United States of America X silver dollar(s) payable to the bearer on demand" or "X dollars in silver coin payable to the bearer on demand". This required that the Treasury maintain stocks of silver dollars to back and redeem the silver certificates in circulation. Beginning with the Series 1934 silver certificates the wording was changed to "This certifies that there is on deposit in the Treasury of the United States of America X dollars in silver payable to the bearer on demand." This freed the Treasury from storing bags of silver dollars in its vaults, and allowed it to redeem silver certificates with bullion or silver granules, rather than silver dollars. Years after the government stopped the redemption of silver certificates for silver, large quantities of silver dollars intended specifically to satisfy the earlier obligation for redemption in silver dollars were found in Treasury vaults.
As was usual with currency during this period, the year date on the bill did not reflect when it was printed, but rather a major design change. Under the Silver Purchase Act of 1934, the authority to issue silver certificates was given to the U.S. Secretary of Treasury.Additional changes, particularly when either of the two signatures was altered, led to a letter being added below the date. One notable exception was the Series 1935G $1 silver certificate, which included notes both with and without the motto "In God We Trust" on the reverse. 1935 dated one dollar certificates lasted through the letter "H", after which new printing processes began the 1957 series. In some cases printing plates were used until they wore out, even though newer ones were also producing notes, so the sequencing of signatures may not always be chronological. Thus some of the 1935 dated one dollar certificates were issued as late as 1963.
In response to the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, the Hawaii overprint note was ordered from the Bureau of Engraving and Printing on June 8, 1942 (all were made-over 1934–1935 bills).Issued in denominations of $1, $5, $10, and $20, only the $1 was a silver certificate, the others were Federal Reserve Notes. Stamped “HAWAII” (in small solid letters on the obverse and large letters on the reverse), with the Treasury seal and serial numbers in brown instead of the usual blue, these notes could be demonetized in the event of a Japanese invasion. Additional World War II emergency currency was issued in November 1942 for circulation in Europe and Northern Africa. Printed with a bright yellow seal, these notes ($1, $5, and $10) could be demonetized should the United States lose its position in the European or North African campaigns.
When a bill is damaged in printing it is normally replaced by another one (the star replaces a letter at the edge of the note). To keep the amounts issued consistent, these replacement banknotes are normally indicated by a star in the separately sequenced serial number. For silver certificates this asterisk appears at the beginning of the serial number.
In the nearly three decades since passage of the Silver Purchase Act of 1934, the annual demand for silver bullion rose steadily from roughly 11 million ounces (1933) to 110 million ounces (1962). The Acts of 1939 and 1946 established floor prices for silver of 71 cents and 90.5 cents (respectively) per ounce. Predicated on an anticipated shortage of silver bullion, Public Law 88-36 (PL88-36) was enacted on 4 June 1963 which repealed the Silver Purchase Act of 1934, and the Acts of July 6, 1939 and July 31, 1946, while providing specific instruction regarding the disposition of silver held as reserves against issued certificates and the price at which silver may be sold. It also amended the Federal Reserve Act to authorize the issue of lower denomination notes (i.e., $1 and $2), allowing for the gradual retirement (or swapping out process) of $1 silver certificates and releasing silver bullion from reserve. In repealing the earlier laws, PL88-36 also repealed the authority of the Secretary of the Treasury to control the issue of silver certificates. By issuing Executive Order 11110, President John F. Kennedy was able to continue the Secretary's authority. While retaining their status as legal tender, the silver certificate had effectively been retired from use.
In March 1964, Secretary of the Treasury C. Douglas Dillon halted redemption of silver certificates for silver dollar coins; during the following four years, silver certificates were redeemable in uncoined silver "granules".All redemption in silver ceased on 24 June 1968. While there are some exceptions (particularly for some of the very early issues as well as the experimental bills) the vast majority of small sized one dollar silver certificates, especially non-star or worn bills of the 1935 and 1957 series, are worth little or nothing above their face values. They can still occasionally be found in circulation.
|In addition to the two engraved signatures customary on United States banknotes (the Register of the Treasury and Treasurer of the United States), the first issue of the Series 1878 notes (similar to the early Gold Certificate) included a third signature of one of the Assistant Treasurers of the United States (in New York, San Francisco, or Washington DC). Known as a countersigned or triple-signature note, this feature existed for the first run of notes issued in 1880, but was then removed from the remaining 1880 issues.|
|The Act of August 4, 1886 authorized the issue of lower denomination ($1, $2, and $5) silver certificates. Similar to the Series 1878/1880 notes, the Treasury seal characteristics (size, color, and style) varies with the change of the Treasury signatures. The series is known for the ornate engraving on the reverse of the note.|
|The Bureau of Engraving and Printing introduced the process of “resizing” paper for Series 1891 notes.|
|The Educational Series is considered to be the most artistically designed bank notes printed by the United States.|
|Large-size silver certificates from the Series of 1899 forward have a blue Treasury seal and serial numbers.|
|Value||Series||Fr.||Image||Portrait||Signature & seal varieties|
|$1||1886||Fr.217||Martha Washington||215 – Rosecrans and Jordan – small red, plain|
216 – Rosecrans and Hyatt – small red, plain
|$1||1891||Fr.223||Martha Washington||222 – Rosecrans and Nebecker – small red, scalloped|
|$1||1896||Fr.224||Allegory History Instructing Youth (obv); George Washington & Martha Washington (rev)||224 – Tillman and Morgan – small red, rays|
|$1||1899||Fr.226||Abraham Lincoln & Ulysses Grant||226 – Lyons and Roberts – blue|
227 – Lyons and Treat – blue
|$1||1923||Fr.239||George Washington|| 237 – Speelman and White – blue|
|$2||1886||Fr.242||Winfield Scott Hancock||240 – Rosecrans and Jordan – small red|
|$2||1891||Fr.246||William Windom||245 – Rosecrans and Nebecker – small red|
|$2||1896||Fr.247||Allegory of Science Presenting Steam and Electricity to Commerce and Manufacture (obv); Robert Fulton & Samuel F.B. Morse (rev)||247 – Tillman and Morgan – small red|
|$2||1899||Fr.249||George Washington||249 – Lyons and Roberts – blue|
250 – Lyons and Treat – blue
|$5||1886||Fr.264||Ulysses Grant||259 – Rosecrans and Jordan – small red, plain|
260 – Rosecrans and Hyatt – small red, plain
|$5||1891||Fr.267||Ulysses Grant|| 266 – Rosecrans and Nebecker – small red, scalloped|
|$5||1896||Fr.270||Allegory of Electricity Presenting Light to the World (obv); Ulysses Grant & Philip Sheridan (rev)||268 – Tillman and Morgan – small red|
|$5||1899||Fr.271||Running Antelope||271 – Lyons and Roberts – blue|
272 – Lyons and Treat – blue
|$5||1923||Fr.282||Abraham Lincoln||282 – Speelman and White – blue|
|$10||1878||Fr.285a*||Robert Morris||283 – Scofield and Gilfillan, CS by W.G. White – large red|
284 – Scofield and Gilfillan, CS by J.C. Hopper – large red
|$10||1880||Fr.287||Robert Morris||286 – Scofield and Gilfillan, CS by T. Hillhouse – large brown with X|
286a – Scofield and Gilfillan, CS by A.U. Wyman – large brown with X
|$10||1886||Fr.291||Thomas Hendricks||291 – Rosecrans and Jordan – small red, plain|
292 – Rosecrans and Hyatt – small red, plain
|$10||1891||Fr.298||Thomas Hendricks||298 – Rosecrans and Nebecker – small red|
|$10||1908||Fr.302||Thomas Hendricks||302 – Vernon and Treat – blue|
|$20||1878||Fr.307||Stephen Decatur||305 – Scofield and Gilfillan, CS by J.C. Hopper – large red|
306 – Scofield and Gilfillan, CS by T. Hillhouse – large red
|$20||1880||Fr.311||Stephen Decatur||308 – Scofield and Gilfillan, CS by T. Hillhouse – large brown|
|$20||1886||Fr.316||Daniel Manning||313 – Rosecrans and Hyatt – large red|
|$20||1891||Fr.317||Daniel Manning||317 – Rosecrans and Nebecker – small red|
|$50||1878||Fr.324||Edward Everett||323 – Scofield and Gilfillan, CS by W.C. White* or J.C. Hopper* – large red|
324 – Scofield and Gilfillan, CS by T. Hillhouse – large red
|$50||1880||Fr.327||Edward Everett||325 – Scofield and Gilfillan – large brown, rays|
|$50||1891||Fr.331||Edward Everett||330 – Rosecrans and Nebecker – small red|
|$100||1878||Fr.337b||James Monroe||336 – Scofield and Gilfillan, CS by W.G. White – large red|
336a – Scofield and Gilfillan, CS by J.C. Hopper or T. Hillhouse – large red
|$100||1880||Fr.340||James Monroe||338– Scofield and Gilfillan – large brown, rays|
|$100||1891||Fr.344||James Monroe||343 – Rosecrans and Nebecker – small red|
|$500||1878||Fr.345a||Charles Sumner||345a – Scofield and Gilfillan, CS by A.U. Wyman* – large red, rays|
|$500||1880||Fr.345c||Charles Sumner||345b – Scofield and Gilfillan – large brown|
|$1,000||1878||Fr.346a||William Marcy||346a – Scofield and Gilfillan, CS unknown – large red, rays|
|$1,000||1880||Fr.346d||William Marcy||346b – Scofield and Gilfillan – large brown|
|$1,000||1891||Fr.346e||William Marcy||346e – Tillman and Morgan – small red|
|Value||Series||Fr.||Image||Portrait||Signature & seal varieties|
|$1||1928 to 1928-E||Fr.1600||George Washington||1600 – Tate and Mellon (1928) – blue|
|$1||1934||Fr.1606||George Washington||1606 – Julian and Morgenthau (1934) – blue|
|$1||1935 to 1935-G||Fr.1607||George Washington||1607 – Julian and Morgenthau (1935) – blue|
1608 – Julian and Morgenthau (1935A)– blue
|$1||1935-G to 1957-B||Fr.1619||George Washington||1617 – Smith and Dillon (1935G) – blue |
|$5||1934 to 1934-D||Fr.1650||Abraham Lincoln||1650 – Julian and Morgenthau (1934) – blue|
|$5||1953 to 1953-C||Fr.1655||Abraham Lincoln||1655 – Priest and Humphrey (1953) – blue|
|$10||1933 to 1933-A||Fr.1700||Alexander Hamilton||1700 – Julian and Woodin (1933) – blue |
1700a – Julian and Morgenthau (1933A) – blue
|$10||1934 to 1934-D||Fr.1701||Alexander Hamilton||1701 – Julian and Morgenthau (1934) – blue|
|$10||1953 to 1953-B||Fr.1706||Alexander Hamilton||1706 – Priest and Humphrey (1953) – blue|
|$1||1935-A||Fr.2300||George Washington||2300 – Julian and Morgenthau – brown|
|$1||1935-A||Fr.2306||George Washington||2306 – Julian and Morgenthau (1935A) – yellow|
|$5||1934-A||Fr.2307||Abraham Lincoln||2307 – Julian and Morgenthau (1934A) – yellow|
|$10||1934 to 1934-A||Fr.2309||Alexander Hamilton||2308 – Julian and Morgenthau (1934) – yellow|
2309 – Julian and Morgenthau (1934A) – yellow
Federal Reserve Notes, also United States banknotes, are the currently issued banknotes of the United States dollar. The United States Bureau of Engraving and Printing produces the notes under the authority of the Federal Reserve Act of 1913 and issues them to the Federal Reserve Banks at the discretion of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System. The Reserve Banks then circulate the notes to their member banks, at which point they become liabilities of the Reserve Banks and obligations of the United States.
A United States Note, also known as a Legal Tender Note, is a type of paper money that was issued from 1862 to 1971 in the U.S. Having been current for 109 years, they were issued for longer than any other form of U.S. paper money. They were known popularly as "greenbacks", a name inherited from the earlier greenbacks, the Demand Notes, that they replaced in 1862. Often termed Legal Tender Notes, they were named United States Notes by the First Legal Tender Act, which authorized them as a form of fiat currency. During the 1860s the so-called second obligation on the reverse of the notes stated:
This Note is a Legal Tender for All Debts Public and Private Except Duties On Imports And Interest On The Public Debt; And Is Redeemable In Payment Of All Loans Made To The United States.
The Coinage Act of 1873 or Mint Act of 1873, 17 Stat. 424, was a general revision of the laws relating to the Mint of the United States. In abolishing the right of holders of silver bullion to have their metal struck into fully legal tender dollar coins, it ended bimetallism in the United States, placing the nation firmly on the gold standard. Because of this, the act became contentious in later years, and was denounced by some as the "Crime of '73".
The United States five-dollar bill ($5) is a denomination of United States currency. The current $5 bill features the 16th U.S. president (1861-1865), Abraham Lincoln's portrait on the front and the Lincoln Memorial on the back. All $5 bills issued today are Federal Reserve Notes.
The United States ten-dollar bill ($10) is a denomination of U.S. currency. The obverse of the bill features the portrait of Alexander Hamilton, who served as the first U.S. Secretary of the Treasury. The reverse features the U.S. Treasury Building. All $10 bills issued today are Federal Reserve Notes.
The United States one-hundred-dollar bill ($100) is a denomination of United States currency. The first United States Note with this value was issued in 1862 and the Federal Reserve Note version was launched in 1914, alongside other denominations. Statesman, inventor, diplomat, and American founding father Benjamin Franklin has been featured on the obverse of the bill since 1914. On the reverse of the banknote is an image of Independence Hall in Philadelphia, which has been used since 1928. The $100 bill is the largest denomination that has been printed and circulated since July 13, 1969, when the denominations of $500, $1,000, $5,000, and $10,000 were retired. As of December 2018, the average life of a $100 bill in circulation is 22.9 years before it is replaced due to wear.
Large denominations of United States currency greater than $100 were circulated by the United States Treasury until 1969. Since then, U.S. dollar banknotes have only been issued in seven denominations: $1, $2, $5, $10, $20, $50, and $100.
The United States one-dollar bill ($1) since 1876 has been the lowest value denomination of United States paper currency. An image of the first U.S. president (1789–1797), George Washington, based on the Athenaeum Portrait, a 1796 painting by Gilbert Stuart, is currently featured on the obverse, and the Great Seal of the United States is featured on the reverse. The one-dollar bill has the oldest overall design of all U.S. currency currently being produced. The obverse design of the dollar bill seen today debuted in 1963 when it was first issued as a Federal Reserve Note.
The Coinage Act, passed by the United States Congress on April 2, 1792, created the United States dollar as the country's standard unit of money, established the United States Mint, and regulated the coinage of the United States. This act established the silver dollar as the unit of money in the United States, declared it to be lawful tender, and created a decimal system for U.S. currency.
A gold certificate in general is a certificate of ownership that gold owners hold instead of storing the actual gold. It has both a historic meaning as a U.S. paper currency (1863–1933) and a current meaning as a way to invest in gold.
The history of the United States dollar began with moves by the Founding Fathers of the United States of America to establish a national currency based on the Spanish silver dollar, which had been in use in the North American colonies of the United Kingdom for over 100 years prior to the United States Declaration of Independence. The new Congress's Coinage Act of 1792 established the United States dollar as the country's standard unit of money, creating the United States Mint tasked with producing and circulating coinage. Initially defined under a bimetallic standard in terms of a fixed quantity of silver or gold, it formally adopted the gold standard in 1900, and finally eliminated all links to gold in 1971.
A Demand Note is a type of United States paper money that was issued between August 1861 and April 1862 during the American Civil War in denominations of 5, 10, and 20 US$. Demand Notes were the first issue of paper money by the United States that achieved wide circulation and they are still in circulation today, though they are now extremely rare. The U.S. government placed the Demand Notes into circulation by using them to pay expenses incurred during the Civil War including the salaries of its workers and military personnel.
The Pittman Act was a United States federal law sponsored by Senator Key Pittman of Nevada and enacted on April 23, 1918. The Act authorized the conversion of not exceeding 350,000,000 standard silver dollars into bullion and its sale or use for subsidiary silver coinage, and directed purchase of domestic silver for recoinage of a like number of dollars. For each silver dollar converted into bullion, the Act also called for the temporary removal from circulation of an equivalent value of Silver Certificates. These certificates were to be temporarily replaced with a new issuance of Federal Reserve Bank Notes, including $1 and $2 denominations for the first time.
Fractional currency, also referred to as shinplasters, was introduced by the United States federal government following the outbreak of the Civil War. These low-denomination banknotes of the United States dollar were in use between 21 August 1862 and 15 February 1876, and issued in denominations of 3, 5, 10, 15, 25, and 50 cents across five issuing periods. The complete type set below is part of the National Numismatic Collection, housed at the National Museum of American History, part of the Smithsonian Institution.
The Coinage Act of 1965, Pub.L. 89–81, 79 Stat. 254, enacted July 23, 1965, eliminated silver from the circulating United States dime and quarter dollar coins. It also reduced the silver content of the half dollar from 90 percent to 40 percent; silver in the half dollar was subsequently eliminated by a 1970 law.
The United States dollar is the official currency of the United States and its territories. The Coinage Act of 1792 introduced the U.S. dollar at par with the Spanish silver dollar, divided it into 100 cents, and authorized the minting of coins denominated in dollars and cents. U.S. banknotes are issued in the form of Federal Reserve Notes, popularly called greenbacks due to its historically predominantly green color.
The Treasury Note was a type of representative money issued by the United States government from 1890 until 1893 under authority of the Sherman Silver Purchase Act in denominations of $1, $2, $5, $10, $20, $50, $100 and $1000. It was issued in two series: an 1890 series with $1, $2, $5, $10, $20, $100 and $1000 denominations, and an 1891 series that added the $50 denomination. A $500 note was designed but never issued. A distinguishing feature of the Series 1890 notes is the extremely ornate designs on the reverse side of the notes. The intent of this was to make counterfeiting much more difficult, but opponents of the design argued that the extensive detail would make it more difficult to distinguish between genuine and counterfeit notes. Consequently, the reverse designs were simplified on the Series 1891 Treasury Notes issued the following year.
Multiple types of banknotes of the United States dollar have been issued, including Federal Reserve Notes, Silver Certificates, Gold certificates and United States Notes.
A silver certificate is a certificate of ownership that silver owners hold instead of storing the actual silver. Several countries have issued silver certificates, including Cuba, the Netherlands, and the United States. Silver certificates have also been privately issued by various mints and bullion companies. One example was the Liberty Dollar issued by NORFED from 1998 to 2009.
The United States two-dollar bill ($2) is a current denomination of United States currency. A portrait of Thomas Jefferson, the third president of the United States (1801–1809), is featured on the obverse of the note. The reverse features an engraving of the c. 1818 painting Declaration of Independence by John Trumbull.
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