Silver Certificates were printed for a time in the United States as a form of paper currency. They were produced in response to silver agitation by citizens who were angered by the Fourth Coinage Act, which placed the United States on the gold standard. The certificate was matched to the same amount of value in silver coinage. For example, one fifty dollar Silver Certificate equals fifty silver dollars.
President-elect Franklin Roosevelt felt the same way. He persuaded Congress to recall all gold coins, gold bullion, and gold certificates, which circulated alongside Silver Certificates. This prompted Congress to quietly place the U.S. on the silver standard. On May 12, 1933, the Agricultural Adjustment Act was passed, which included a clause allowing for the pumping of silver into the market to replace the gold. A new Series 1933 $10 Silver Certificate was printed and released, but not many were released into circulation.
In 1934, a law was passed in Congress that changed the obligation on Silver Certificates so as to denote the current location of the silver. This law also allowed the government to exchange silver bullion for the certificates, not just silver dollars. The 1933, along with its sister, the 1933A, $10 silvers, as well as the 1928 $1 silvers were phased out and replaced with certificates of Series 1934. The small-size $5 Silver Certificate was introduced with this series, as well.
Certificates circulated, mainly in the $1 denomination, widely throughout the United States in the years following 1934. When the '34s wore out, they were replaced with a new, more modern-looking Series 1953 (1935 for the $1 silvers; see below), with the same face changes as the Series 1950 Federal Reserve Notes had experienced. However, the Silver Certificates began to disappear from circulation during the 1940s and 1950s. The amount of Silver Certificates in circulation depended directly upon the amount of silver bullion in the Treasury vaults. As people redeemed the certificates for bullion or silver dollars, the notes were shredded, because the notes had lost their backing and could not be recirculated unless there was more silver being produced. The price of silver was also rising. In 1960, it was nearing $1.29, which meant that silver dollars were worth more than $1. This meant that people would receive their silver dollars, and melt them down for the bullion, thereby reducing the amount of silver in circulation, which was already falling.
In March 1964, Secretary of the Treasury C. Douglas Dillon halted redemption of Silver Certificates for Silver Dollars. In the 1970s, large numbers of the remaining silver dollars in the mint vaults were sold to the collecting public for collector value. Silver Certificates were abolished by Congress on June 4, 1963 and all redemption in silver ceased on June 24, 1968. Paper currency is still valid legal tender without the Silver Certificate, instead being backed simply by the perceived strength of the U.S. economy. According to the U.S. treasury, "The notes have no value for themselves, but for what they will buy. In another sense, because they are legal tender, Federal Reserve notes are 'backed' by all the goods and services in the economy.
|1928||$1||H.T. Tate - Andrew W. Mellon||638,296,908|
|1928A||$1||W.O. Woods - Andrew W. Mellon||2,267,809,500|
|1928A/B Experimentals||$1||W.O. Woods - A.W. Mellon||31,224,000|
|1928B||$1||W.O. Woods - Ogden L. Mills||674,597,808|
|1928C||$1||W.O. Woods - William H. Woodin||5,364,348|
|1928D||$1||William Alexander Julian (W.A. Julian) - William H. Woodin||14,451,372|
|1928E||$1||W.A. Julian - Henry Morgenthau, Jr.||3,519,324|
|1934||$1||W.A. Julian - Henry Morgenthau, Jr.||682,176,000|
|1935||$1||W.A. Julian - Henry Morgenthau, Jr.||1,681,552,000|
|1935A||$1||W.A. Julian - Henry Morgenthau, Jr.|
|1935A Brown Seal Hawaiian||$1||W.A. Julian - Henry Morgenthau, Jr.|
|1935A Yellow Seal North Africa||$1||W.A. Julian - Henry Dillon, Jr.|
|1935A Experimental R/S||$1||W.A. Julian - Henry Morgenthau, Jr.|
|1935B||$1||Tres. W.A. Julian - Sec. Fred M. Vinson|
|1935C||$1||W.A. Julian - John W. Snyder|
|1935D||$1||Georgia Neese Clark - John W. Snyder|
|1935E||$1||Ivy Baker Priest - George M. Humphrey|
|1935F||$1||Ivy Baker Priest - Robert B. Anderson|
|1935G||$1||Elizabeth Rudel Smith - C. Douglas Dillon|
|1935H||$1||Kathryn O'Hay Granahan - C. Douglas Dillon||31,956,000|
|1957||$1||Ivy Baker Priest - Robert B. Anderson||2,916,640,000|
|1957A||$1||Elizabeth Rudel Smith - C. Douglas Dillon||1,688,720,000|
|1957B||$1||Kathryn O'Hay Granahan - C. Douglas Dillon||767,680,000|