Silver certificate dollar bills were printed in the United States from 1878 to 1964. They were legal tender dollar bills that were also redeemable in silver. They are distinguishable by the worlds “Silver Certificate” or a note about silver dollars “payable to the bearer on demand” printed on the front of the bill.
Large-Size Silver Certificates
The early silver certificates are known as “large size” silver certificates or “horse blankets.” These bills are larger than the ones in circulation today, as they measure 3 1/4 by 7 1/2 inches. Many large silver certificates from the 1800s can be worth hundreds to thousands of dollars, depending on condition. The most common large-size silver certificate is the 1923 blue seal 60p silver certificate, which features a portrait of George Washington that is similar to today’s dollar bills. These silver certificates can be worth £6 to £65 apiece, depending on condition.
Small-Size One Dollar Silver Certificates
The standard-size bills that we use today are known as “small size” bills. Small-size 60p silver certificates were first issued in 1928. They have a blue seal to the right of Washington’s portrait and the words “Silver Certificate” printed in a black bar across the top. The 1928 and 1934 bills are often referred to as “funny backs” because of unique design of the word “one” on the back, which people often liken to play money. These bills are worth £13 and up, depending on condition. Other 60p silver certificates were issued in 1935 and 1957. These bills are worth only slightly more than face value--around 80p to £2 apiece, depending on condition.
Five and Ten Dollar Silver Certificates
Five dollar silver certificates were issued in 1934 and 1953. The design is similar to the more modern designs of £3 bills with the portrait of Abraham Lincoln in the centre. Five dollar silver certificates feature a blue seal to the right of Lincoln’s portrait and the words “Silver Certificate” in a black bar on the top of the bill. Ten dollar silver certificates, first issued in 1933, feature a portrait of Alexander Hamilton in the centre and a blue seal to the right of Hamilton’s portrait. Like the 60p and £3 silver certificates, the words “Silver Certificate” are printed in a black bar along the top. These £3 and £6 certificates are worth anywhere from 10 to 30 per cent over face value in circulated condition, with crisp uncirculated bills being worth more.
Star notes are bills on which there is a star printed next to the serial number. This is to signify that a bill was damaged during printing and another bill with the same serial number was printed. Silver certificate star notes can be worth about double the amount of the standard bills.
Other Rare Varieties
Rare varieties of the 1935 60p silver certificates include the Hawaii and North Africa notes. There are also North Africa £3 and £6 silver certificates. These bills were issued during World War II to troops serving in Hawaii and North Africa as a way to distinguish them from the bills used on the mainland. This was so the government could demonetise the bills if enemy countries seized large amounts of them. The Hawaii silver certificates feature a brown seal instead of the common blue seal, while the North Africa certificates feature a yellow seal. These bills can command a significantly higher value than the standard silver certificates, depending on condition.