The first silver certificates were printed in the United States in response to people who were upset with the Fourth Coinage Act that put the United States money on the gold standard. The certificate was designed to match the same value in silver coins. For example, one $50.00 Silver Certificate would be worth 50 silver dollars.
The seal and serial numbers on a Silver Certificate were printed in red, brown, and blue until Series 1899. At that time the seal and color numbers were permanently changed to blue for the $1, $2, and $5 dollar denominations.
In World War II, the government issued a 1935a Silver Certificate with a brown seal for Hawaii, and a yellow seal for North Africa distributions. The reasoning behind this move was if the money fell into enemy hands it could be easily identified and cancelled to prevent monetary losses in the United States.
In 1928, the United States Treasury reduced the size of the money to speed up transactions and cut the costs of printing. Thus, for Series 1928 only $1 Silver Certificates were printed.
In 1929 the Great Depression hit the United States and the country fell into economic disaster. The majority of citizens blamed the ever changing price of gold for the depression. President Franklin Roosevelt agreed and persuaded Congress to recall all gold coins, gold bullion, and gold certificates. At this time Congress very quietly placed the United States on the silver standard. May 12th, 1933, the Agricultural Adjustment Act was passed. This Act included a clause that allowed for huge amounts of silver to be pumped into the economy to replace the gold.
In 1934, Congress passed a low that changed the obligation on Silver Certificates to denote the current location of the silver. This law also gave the government the power to exchange silver bullion for these certificates, not just silver dollars. The 1928 one-dollar Silver Certificates were phased out and replaced with the certificates of Series 1934.
In March of 1964, Secretary of the Treasury, C. Douglas Dillion stopped the ability of citizens to redeem their Silver Certificates for Silver Dollars. Then in the 1970’s huge numbers of silver dollars in the vaults of the U.S. Mints were sold to collectors at collector value.
Finally on June 4, 1963 Congress abolished Silver Certificates and a citizen could no longer redeem their Silver Certificates for silver on June 24, 1968. This act pretty much ended the life of Silver Certificates. Kind of sad, really.
Do you have any Silver Certificates? If so, tell us about them or post a picture!