Silver Certificates

The Coinage Act of 1873 eliminated silver from the bimetallic (gold and silver) standard that Alexander Hamilton had created. Soon after, the government issued silver certificates backed by physical silver dollars.

Each certificate indicates how much silver the government will pay to the bearer upon request. On most large-size silver certificates, the obligation reads: “THIS CERTIFIES THAT THERE IS ON DEPOSIT IN THE TREASURY OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA {NUMBER} SILVER DOLLAR(S) PAYABLE TO THE BEARER ON DEMAND.”

Silver certificates were printed from 1878 to 1964 in the U.S. as paper currency until the rising price of silver forced Congress to eliminate them. It also discontinued the use of silver in dimes and quarters. In March 1964, the Secretary of the Treasury halted redemption of silver certificates for coined silver dollars.

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