Posts Tagged ‘silver’

The Story of Change- No not President Obama, I’m talking about money here!

Monday, March 2nd, 2009

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The story of American money started more than three centuries ago. Before this, settlers mostly bartered goods for goods. Crops like tobacco and corn and pork and butter were widely used. Learning from the Native Americans who used stringed clamshell beads, or wampum, European colonists adopted the wampum among trades with the Native Americans and then, amongst themselves.

The Massachusetts Bay Colony contracted John Hull to begin minting coins. Hull set up a mint in Boston and began producing “NE” (New England) coins in 1652. The NE coins were very easy to counterfeit, only having NE on one side and XII on the other. The coin was redesigned from 1667-1682. Eventually as more and more people came to the New World and brought their money with them, the settlers and colonists relied on foreign money for buying and selling. Money from Europe, Mexico and South America could be found at any given time. These coins mixed in with the NE coins and wampum and were all used for purchasing, barter and trade.

Early in the 18th century, a large amount of copper coins were imported from England and Ireland for the purpose of making more coins for the colonies. In 1776, dollar-sized coins were produced with a sundial and the inscription “Mind Your Business” on the front and “American Congress We Are One” on the back. These pieces were struck in three different metals; those struck in pewter are scarce or rare, while the silver and brass examples as extremely rare. The Articles of Confederation, adopted on July 9, 1778, gave Congress the ability to place the value on the coins that were struck by each state. At that time, the states each had the right to strike their own coins, there was just no fluidity in their values until the Articles came about.

Finally in 1792 the U.S. Mint was established by Congress. The U.S. Mint makes all U.S. Coins and became an operating bureau of the Treasury Department in 1873. To this day, U.S. coins typically have a mint mark showing which mint it was produced by. The Philadelphia Mint has been the longest in continuous operation, since 1792. The Denver Mint began coin producing in 1906. The newest mints were the West Point, New York, and San Francisco which gained official status in 1988.

From 1965-1968 there were no identifications used to tell where coins were minted. In 1968 the mints resumed putting their initials on the coins. Coins minted in Philadelphia had a P or no letter, Denver has a D, West Point a W and S for San Francisco. To this day, look at your coins and right under the date there should be a letter telling you where that coin was minted and if no letter is present, your coin was minted in Philadelphia!

Coins’ designs and values have changed over the years from the half-penny to silver dollars. The designs will continue to change as society deems it necessary . For now, the coins in your pocket have come a long way to get there because there was a time when there was a lack of United States coins.

The History of the Paper Dollar

Saturday, February 28th, 2009

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The Massachusetts Bay Colony was the first of the thirteen colonies to issue permanently circulating banknotes in 1690. The reason behind this was because the paper could be more readily printed and circulated than gold coin. Many of these early bills were marked “Tis Death to Counterfeit.” In the early 1700s, each of the thirteen colonies had issued their own banknotes called “colonial script.” 1789 brought about the First Band of the United States which issued fixed denominations and printed banknotes until 1811 when it closed. From 1816 to 1841, the (you guessed it) Second Bank of the United States took on the responsibilities of printing banknotes.


The civil war, in 1861, needed to be funded with money that there just wasn’t enough of. In 1862, under Abraham Lincoln, the demand notes were issued, taking the place of interest bearing currency. Some necessities were added and changed in the next few years in order to stop counterfeiters. The new “Greenbacks” had an engraved Treasury seal and red and blue fibers in the paper which made them (at the time) very difficult to counterfeit which would cost the banks more money. Gold certificates were also issued against gold coin and bullion and were still in circulation until 1933 as well as silver certificates being issued for silver dollars until 1957. 1865 brought on the need for a Secret Service to police and control counterfeiters. How much was that really needed and how much of the US’s money was counterfeit? Oh only about one-third!


The one dollar United States Note was redesigned with a portrait of George Washington in the center and a vignette of Christopher Columbus. The back of the note also featured green and blue tinting. In 1880 the red floral design was added around the words “One Dollar” and “Washington D.C.” From 1890 to 1899 the gold and silver certificates were redesigned repeatedly in order to continue to make them harder and harder to be counterfeited. In 1910 the Department of the Treasury’s Bureau of Engraving and Printing took on all currency production functions including engraving, printing and processing. The Federal Reserve Act of 1913 created the Federal Reserve System. This means that the Federal Reserve became the central bank, regulating the flow of money. The Federal Reserve also became, to this day, the only authorized entity to issue Federal Reserve Notes (also known as, The Dollar(s)) which are the only U.S. currency produced and 99% of all currency in circulation!


“In God We Trust” No matter your religion, you know this phrase. This phrase was required by Congress in 1955 to be on every piece of currency and to this day, it still is. The last major change that was made was the microprinted security thread which was first introduced in 1990. It started with the $100 bills and the $50 bills, then eventually was introduced into the $20s, $10s, $5s, and $1s. Take a look at the money in your wallet. Now you know part of the long road traveled it took to get there.

Silver Certificates

Sunday, September 7th, 2008

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silver certificatesThe 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!