The Fascinating World of 1934 $5 Silver Certificates

For collectors of rare US currency, few series hold as much intrigue and potential value as the 1934 $5 silver certificate bills. Issued at an important time in American history as the nation was coming out of the Great Depression, these striking blue seal bills were used to help stabilize the economy and restore faith in paper money.

Today, 1934 $5 silver certificates are highly sought-after by collectors for their historical significance, beautiful designs, and rarity in high grades. While well-circulated examples can still be acquired for a relatively affordable price, some scarce varieties in pristine condition have sold for north of $15,000 at auction.

Whether you‘re an experienced collector or just starting to get interested in the hobby, this guide will walk you through everything you need to know about collecting and valuing 1934 $5 silver certificate bills. We‘ll dive into the history behind the series, break down the different varieties and rarities, and share some tips for sourcing these prized notes for your collection. Let‘s get started!

The History of 1934 $5 Silver Certificates

To really appreciate 1934 $5 silver certificates, it helps to understand the historical context in which they were issued. In 1933, in an effort to combat the Great Depression, President Franklin D. Roosevelt took the US off the gold standard and nationalized all gold coins and bullion through Executive Order 6102.

Americans could no longer redeem paper currency for gold. To maintain confidence in the paper money supply, the government began issuing silver certificates instead, which were backed by actual deposits of silver and could be redeemed for silver dollars.

The new 1934 series $5 silver certificates featured a blue treasury seal and serial numbers, replacing the older red seals. The front depicts a portrait of Abraham Lincoln, while the back shows the iconic Lincoln Memorial. 1934 $5 bills were printed in huge numbers to meet circulation demand – over 900 million notes were issued in total from 1934 to 1953 across five signature combinations (series 1934, 1934A, 1934B, 1934C, 1934D).

Collecting 1934 $5 Silver Certificates

For collectors, not all 1934 $5 bills are created equal. Because they were printed in such large quantities, the majority of surviving examples are very common and only worth a small premium over face value, typically under $15-20 in average circulated condition.

However, there are a number of scarce varieties, star notes, and high grade examples that are significantly more valuable. Here are some of the most important factors that determine the collectible value of a 1934 $5 silver certificate:

Series and Block – Among the five series of 1934 $5 bills, the 1934 and 1934A are the most common, while the 1934B and 1934C are scarcer. Pay attention to the series (printed after the date) as well as the block letter in the serial number, which indicates which Federal Reserve bank issued the note.

Star Notes – Star notes were printed as replacements when there was an error in the serial number. Identified by a star symbol at the end of the serial number, these are much rarer than normal bills. The 1934B star note is considered the key to the series.

Serial Numbers – Collectors pay a premium for certain serial number patterns like low numbers (especially under 100), solid numbers (all one digit), ladders, radars, etc. The most valuable is a serial number 1 note from any series.

Errors – Printing mistakes like mismatched serial numbers, misaligned faces, foldovers, etc. can actually make a bill more valuable to collectors. Error notes are rare and highly sought-after.

Grade – As with any collectible, condition is paramount to value. Bills are graded on a scale from 1 (poor) to 70 (perfect uncirculated). Higher grade examples, especially in Extra Fine (XF40) condition or better, can fetch huge premiums.

To give you a general sense of the value of different 1934 $5 silver certificates, here is a chart showing some of the most notable varieties and what they have sold for in different grades:

Notable 1934 $5 Silver Certificate Varieties and Values

Variety Fine (F12) Extra Fine (XF40) About Uncirculated (AU50) Uncirculated (UNC60)
1934 $15 $20 $30 $125
1934A $15 $20 $30 $105
1934B $20 $35 $85 $400
1934C $20 $35 $80 $350
1934D $15 $25 $40 $150
1934B Star $500 $1,500 $5,000 $15,000
1934 Serial #1 N/A N/A N/A $10,000+

Values are approximate and based on recent auction prices. Specific notes may vary based on grade, serial numbers, and eye appeal.

Finding 1934 $5 Silver Certificates

If you‘re looking to start or expand your collection of 1934 $5 bills, you have a few different options:

  • Local coin shops and shows – Many local coin dealers and currency collectors carry 1934 silver certificates. Check for upcoming events in your area where you can see notes in person and negotiate prices.

  • Online marketplaces – Websites like eBay, Amazon, and Etsy have large selections of 1934 $5 bills in all different grades and price points. Just be sure to buy from reputable sellers and study the photos carefully.

  • Auction houses – For the highest-end and most valuable varieties, you‘ll want to go through a specialized currency auction house. Heritage Auctions and Stack‘s Bowers are two of the most prominent ones.

  • Fellow collectors – Attending collector club meetings and networking with other hobbyists is a great way to trade notes and learn more about the series. Many collectors are happy to sell extra duplicates from their collections.

No matter where you source them from, always take the time to authenticate any 1934 $5 bills before buying them, as counterfeits do exist. Holding the note up to the light will reveal the embedded security strip and watermarks. If you‘re unsure, consider having it professionally graded by a service like PCGS or PMG.

FAQs about 1934 $5 Silver Certificates

To wrap up, let‘s address some of the most frequently asked questions collectors have about the 1934 $5 series:

Q: Can I still redeem a 1934 $5 silver certificate for silver?
A: Unfortunately no, silver certificates have not been redeemable for silver since 1968. Today they are only worth their collectible value to currency collectors.

Q: How do I store and preserve my 1934 $5 bills?
A: The best way is to keep them in a cool, dark place inside acid-free currency sleeves or an archival album. Never keep them in regular PVC or vinyl flips. Handle them minimally and by the edges to avoid damage.

Q: What is the most valuable 1934 $5 silver certificate?
A: The undisputed key date is the 1934B star note, especially in uncirculated grades. Other rarities include serial number 1 notes, solid serial numbers, and errors like double denominations.

Q: Are there any special 1934 $5 silver certificate varieties to look out for?
A: One interesting variety is the 1934A "North Africa" emergency issue $5 note. Distinguished by its yellow seal, it was issued during WWII for American troops in North Africa. They are quite scarce.

The Bottom Line

1934 $5 silver certificates are an intriguing and challenging series that has something to offer collectors of all budgets and interests. Whether you‘re drawn to their beautiful designs, historical significance, or rarity, these delightful blue seal notes are sure to be a prized part of your collection for years to come.

By understanding the history of the series, what factors make an individual bill valuable, and how to find the notes for your collection, you‘ll be well on your way to becoming a savvy collector in this area of the hobby. Enjoy the thrill of the hunt as you search for your next treasure!

Do you collect 1934 $5 silver certificates? Share your favorite varieties or finds in the comments below! And if you found this guide helpful, please feel free to share it with your fellow collectors.

How useful was this post?

Click on a star to rate it!

Average rating 0 / 5. Vote count: 0

No votes so far! Be the first to rate this post.