Silver certificates were notes that were redeemable for silver bullion. Silver certificates were originally created as a response to the economic policy of free silver. This 19th century U.S. economic policy stated that an unlimited amount of money could be created despite the amount of silver the U.S. owned. The Bland-Allison Act of 1878 changed that by ordering the U.S. Treasury to buy between $2 million to $4 million worth of silver every month from mines out west. Silver certificates allowed for citizens to receive silver based on the face value of the note. In 1968, U.S. monetary policy changed again, effectively ending the U.S. dollar being backed by any precious metal.
STARTING A UNITED STATES SILVER CERTIFICATE COLLECTION
Although silver certificates are no longer redeemable for silver, they are still rare to the collector who is looking for specific dates, cities, conditions and serial numbers. There are several variations of the silver certificate. Initially, these dollar bills were larger than what we are used to seeing in our paper money today. In 1929, these bills were reduced in size to save money, but also to make them more convenient to use.
During World War II, Hawaii, North Africa, and Europe received specially stamped U.S. Silver Certificates. This was done so that if those areas were lost, then the U.S. could demonetize any currency that was seized.
Overall, silver certificates have a rich history and have a wide variety of variation for someone looking to start a new collection.