Silver Certificate Dollar bills: How much are they worth today?

silver certificate dollar bills

What is the current value of a silver certificate dollar bill?

A certificate of silver dollar bills represents a special time in American History. The federal government issued this type of legal tender in the late 1800s. The certificate holder could redeem the certificate for a specific amount of silver. A certificate was issued to investors that allowed them to own silver without purchasing the precious material.

They are legal tender, but they no longer have a monetary value. Silver certificates (e.g. $1) are worth much more on the market than their face value. This is because collectors continue to seek these prints. The United States became one of the largest producers of silver around the world in the 1860s. The silver certificate was a part of a new currency system in the U.S. that helped to create a new financial structure.

Takeaways from the Key Notes

  • The United States issued silver certificates dollar bills as legal tender.
  • At the time they were issued, holders of certificates could redeem them against a specific amount of silver.
  • Silver certificates are no longer redeemable for physical silver.
  • Many certificates only have a face value, even though collectors continue to seek out rare prints.

Understanding Silver Certificate Dollar Bills

The Coinage Act of the 1873 was not well known. The act effectively ended bimetallism in the United States and placed the country on the standard. Silver coins were still legal tender but few were available.

In 1878, the Bland-Allison Act allowed the U.S. Government to issue certificates. The act allowed people to deposit silver coins in the U.S. Treasury and exchange them for certificates that were easier to carry.4 They could also redeem this representative money for silver equivalent to the certificate’s face value. Other countries have issued silver certificates in the past. These include China, Colombia Costa Rica, Ethiopia Morocco Panama and the Netherlands.

Congress established a bimetallic money standard in 1792. Gold and silver became the means of exchange. A free coinage policy allowed raw gold and silver to be brought to the U.S. Mint and made into coins.6 But, between 1793-1873, there were few silver coins minted, because the amount of silver needed to make one coin was more expensive than the gold dollar or greenback equivalents.

Old Silver Dollar Certificates

The importance of silver became evident with the development and discovery of other deposits, such as the Comstock lode. Congress was looking for ways to increase the monetary basis. In the 1860s, the U.S. produced less than 1% the world’s total silver. By the 1870s, it had increased to almost 20%.

The Bland-Allison Act reinstated free coinage of silver. The act also required that the government purchase and coin in dollars up to $4 million of silver per month. However, no more than $2,000,000 was purchased each month.

The historical value of the prints lies in their economic impact and short-term legal tender status.


The House of Representatives passed the PL8836 in 1963. It repealed the Silver Purchase Act, and instructed on the retirement of the $1 silver certificates.

For approximately 10 months, certificate holders were able to exchange their print for silver dollar coin. In March 1964 Secretary of the Treasury C. Douglas Dillon halted the issuance coins. For the next four year, certificates were redeemed by silver granules.

Silver Certificate Denominations

Silver certificates are sometimes referred to by the terms large and small certificates. The size of certificates issued between 1878 and 1923 was larger, measuring often more than seven inches in length and three inches in width. values for large-sized silver certificate issued between 1878 and 1923 varied from $1 to $1,000. The designs were varied, depicting former presidents and first ladies, as well as vice presidents and founding fathers.

All small-sized silver certificates feature the portraits of George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, or a data-component=”link” data-ordinal=”2″ data-source=”inlineLink” and a data-type=”internalLink”. The portraits on all small-sized certificates are either of George Washington or Abraham Lincoln . The value of a small-sized silver certificate does not correlate directly with its size or denomination.

The value of a silver certificate is not directly related to its size and denomination

Silver Certificate Value Today

Silver dollar certificates are no longer redeemable for silver, but they still technically qualify as legal tender. The certificates are still legal currency, even though they can no longer be redeemed for silver. They can be exchanged into a Federal Reserve Note. 17

Silver certificates are still valuable because they can be collected. Certificates have become collector’s items, and depending on how rare the print is, collectors pay more than the face value.

Add Value to Your Features

Numerous variables determine the value of each certificate. The grading is one of the most important factors in determining the value of a bill. The Sheldon scale is used to grade most silver certificates. It ranges from 1 to 70. 70 represents a certificate that’s in mint condition.

There are other features on silver certificates, in addition to their grade. These can increase the value of the certificate to a collector. A silver certificate that has a star on the serial number, or an error on the bill, is generally worth more than one without.

Investors are more interested in serial numbers that are unique or interesting. Serial numbers with the numeral 2 for each digit are more valuable than random combinations of numbers.

Silver Dollar Certificates: Valuation

Most common were the silver certificates issued between 1935-1957. The design of the silver certificates is almost identical to that of a standard U.S. Dollar bill featuring George Washington. The only difference is that the text under Washington’s portrait states that the tender is worth one dollar in sterling payable on demand. The certificates are worth slightly more than their face value. Uncirculated bills typically sell between $2 and $4.

The certificate depicts a woman instructing a young boy. The certificate shows a woman teaching a boy.

Another certificate that is popular among collectors is the 1899 print. This note is sometimes referred to by the name Black Eagle due to the large eagle that appears on its front. Below the eagle, you will find Abraham Lincoln and Ulysses Grantelow. A 1899 Black Eagle 1 Silver Banknote Certificate is worth just over $110 in very good condition.

Certificates from 1928 with a star symbol in the serial number are extremely valuable, commanding between $4,000 and $20,000. Certificates with stars in the serial numbers are highly valuable and can fetch between $4,000 to $20,000.

A 1934 certificate in very fine condition is worth around $30. A 1934 certificate is worth $30 in excellent condition. 27

Silver Investment Options

Investors who are interested in owning a share of silver should buy it elsewhere. Silver certificates are no longer a form of ownership in commodities. Their value comes mainly from their collector’s appeal. There are many ways to invest in silver. Investors can buy silver in the form of coins, bullion or jewelry. An investor may also purchase exchange traded fund that is backed by silver in a safe location. Investors may be able to redeem their ETFs for silver bullion in certain situations. 28

A speculator may also invest in a number of mining companies or precious metal streaming firms. You can, for example:

  • Wheaton Precious Metals Corp. ( WPM ) operates under a “streaming model”, whereby it buys silver produced by other companies as a byproduct of their primary business, such as gold or copper mining.
  • Silvercorp Metals is a Canadian mining company with three sites active in China. 30
  • First Majestic Silver Corp. ( AG ) is a Mexican company that owns six silver-producing mines.
  • Hecla Mining Company is a silver mining company with mines in Alaska and Idaho as well as Quebec, Canada.
  • SSR Mining ( SSRM), operates a mine of silver in Argentina. 33

The price of silver is directly related to the success of these companies, even though they do not own any silver.

What is the rarest silver certificate?

The 1928C, 1928D and 1928E bills are among the most rare silver certificates dollar bills. If they are in good condition, any notes that fit into this category can fetch as much as $5,000.

What is the value of a $1 silver certificate?

It depends on what type of $1 silver certificate dollar bills you have. A Series 1896 Educational $1 Silver Certificate note in good condition can fetch more than $500, while a $1 Black Eagle Silver Banknote Certificate with the same condition will only fetch just over $110.

What Does the “Silver Certificates” Mean on a US Dollar Bill?

Silver Certificate is a legal tender paper currency. Silver certificates were once redeemable in silver but now can be exchanged at face value. Collectors often purchase certificates for much higher prices.

The Bottom Line

Silver certificate dollar bills were once a great way for investors to own precious metals without having to purchase them. The U.S. stopped printing the notes, which diminished their value and importance. Collectors are willing to pay top dollar for these certificates. However, you shouldn’t be too excited if one turns up in your billfold. The majority of these certificates will only give you the face amount of the bill.

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