Not Your Grandfather’s Silver Certificate

Fr. 341 1880 $100 Silver Certificate

Among the deluge of notes that we encounter on a regular basis at Stack’s Bowers Galleries, none is perhaps as prevalent as the Silver Certificate. Issued from 1878 to 1964, Silver Certificates were once widely encountered in circulation and are readily encountered today, either at shows or across the counter. The ubiquitous small-size Silver Certificates and the ever-popular “Black Eagle” and “Chief” pieces account for a large portion of the notes we handle.

However, as with any type of note, there are exceptions, and this note is the exception. It is an 1880 $100 Silver Certificate Fr. 341 (Rosecrans/Huston) that has been graded Very Fine 30 by PMG and is featured in our upcoming November U.S. Currency Showcase Auction as lot 20178.

Although technically considered a “Silver Certificate,” this note is much scarcer and more special. Bearing the portrait of President James Monroe (1817-1825) it is considered a “Certificate of Deposit,” and only 100,000 were printed of this denomination. Today there are only about 30 survivors.

The explanation as to why so few of these notes survive can be traced to the limited circulation of these notes in commerce. In short, notes like this were primarily used in bank-to-bank transfers and transactions between mining companies; they rarely saw circulation among the general public. As such, most examples of the type were readily and quickly redeemed, thus leaving few avenues for these notes to survive to the present day.

Effectively a miracle of survival in its own right, the note offered in our November auction is a fine example of the assigned grade that weathered the rigors of circulation. It retains bright paper and bold inks in addition to vivid overprints in the serial numbers and the large ornate spiked Treasury seal. This note has been the beneficiary of skilled restoration as noted by PMG which comments “Minor Repairs.” These repairs appear exceptionally well executed as they are not visible through the holder.

For those seeking to build a first-rate collection of Silver Certificates or type notes here is a rare opportunity. This note will cross the block in our November U.S. Currency Showcase Auction on Friday November 17, 2023.

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