1957 Dollar Bill Worth – History and Values of This Iconic Silver Certificate

The 1957 one dollar bill was a landmark issue in the history of U.S. currency. It has the distinction of being the first paper money to feature the motto "In God We Trust," which is now ubiquitous on American money. The 1957 series was also the swan song of the silver certificate dollar – after nearly a century of production, $1 silver certificates were discontinued after 1957 and replaced by Federal Reserve notes.

For collectors, the 1957 dollar bill is an accessible and affordable piece of American monetary history. Its relative abundance keeps prices reasonable for most examples. However, there are some rare errors and variations that can bring big money in top condition. Whether you have a 1957 $1 bill in your collection already or are considering starting to collect currency, here‘s what you should know about these iconic silver certificates.

A Motto is Born and a Dollar Passes Into History

"In God We Trust" first appeared on U.S. coins in 1864 and was used on and off over the next century. But it was not adopted as the country‘s official motto until 1956. The following year, Congress passed a law requiring the motto to be added to all currency. The first notes printed with "In God We Trust" were the Series 1957 one dollar silver certificates.

1957 also marked the end of an era for the dollar bill. Silver certificates were first authorized in 1878 and the first $1 silver certificates were issued in 1886. For many decades, Americans could redeem silver certificates for silver dollars. However, rising silver prices in the 1960s led the Treasury Department to end the redemption of silver certificates in 1968. The 1957 series would be the last $1 silver certificates – after that, $1 Federal Reserve notes took their place.

Series 1957, 1957A, and 1957B

Although all Series 1957 $1 bills look nearly identical at first glance, there are actually three sub-series. Regular Series 1957 notes feature the printed signatures of Treasury Secretary Robert B. Anderson and Treasurer Ivy Baker Priest. Series 1957A bills have the signatures of Secretary Robert B. Anderson and Treasurer Elizabeth Rudel Smith. Finally, 1957B notes were signed by Treasurer Kathryn O‘Hay Granahan and Secretary C. Douglas Dillon.

The three signature combinations correspond to different print runs throughout 1957 and into the early 1960s as those officials rotated through their appointed positions. All three versions are similar in terms of rarity and value with just a slight premium for the original 1957 variety. Also of note are so-called "star notes" printed as replacements for misprinted currency – these are identified by a star symbol at the end of the serial number and can bring higher prices.

Supply and Demand

The Bureau of Engraving and Printing produced a whopping 5.3 billion Series 1957 $1 silver certificates. This massive quantity means that even over 60 years later, 1957 dollar bills are not rare in the absolute sense. Most circulated examples are worth only slightly more than face value. Even crisp original uncirculated notes can often be found for $20 or less. This abundance is a boon for collectors on a budget looking to add some vintage currency to their holdings.

However, there are some elusive variations that collectors prize. Certain serial number combinations, printing errors, and star notes can bring significant premiums in top condition. So if you find a 1957 dollar bill with something unique about it, be sure to look up the value before you spend it!

Grading and Condition

As with any collectible, the condition of a 1957 $1 bill will be a major driver of its value. Circulated examples with obvious wear are the most common and least valuable. Notes graded about uncirculated (AU) or mint state (MS/UNC) represent the cream of the crop and bring the strongest prices.

Here are some approximate values for Series 1957 $1 silver certificates in various conditions:

  • Heavily worn or damaged: $1 – $3
  • Fine to Very Fine: $3 – $5
  • Extremely Fine: $5 – $10
  • About Uncirculated: $10 – $15
  • MS 63 Choice Uncirculated: $12 – $18
  • MS 64 Gem Uncirculated or better: $18+

Star notes in the same conditions will typically sell for about 30-50% more than regular notes. Also, remember that series 1957A and 1957B will trade at a slight discount to the figures listed above in most cases. These are only ballpark retail estimates – actual "bid" and "ask" prices can vary quite a bit depending on the specific note and market conditions.

Rare and Valuable Errors

With billions of notes printed, it‘s inevitable that some 1957 $1 silver certificates made it through quality control with errors. The most desirable type are mismatched serial numbers, where the 8-digit serial number printed twice on the front does not match. A lot of 20 sequential mismatched serial notes from the Kansas City district sold for over $13,000 in 2019. Individual examples of the mismatched serial error regularly bring over $1,000.

Other errors like foldovers, ink smears, misalignments, etc. can also boost the value of a particular note. Error notes are one of the hottest areas of the currency market right now and affluent collectors will pay a premium to own the more spectacular examples. Since there are so many different types of errors and variations, values can differ dramatically based on the rarity and visual appeal of the specific note. It‘s best to have a suspected error note evaluated by a knowledgeable currency dealer for an accurate appraisal.

The Most Desirable 1957 $1 Silver Certificates

Aside from error notes, the most avidly sought 1957 dollar bills are those with desirable serial numbers. In recent years, some of the most expensive 1957 $1 silver certificates to sell at auction include:

  • An MS 67 example with solid serial number 88888888 sold for $8,700 in January 2022
  • A lot of two consecutive notes with serial numbers 77777776 and 77777777 in MS 67 sold for $2,040 in August 2019
  • A low serial number note X00000001A sold for $8,050 in September 2005
  • A matched pair of low serial number 1957A and 1957B notes each with serial X00000032A sold for $2,400 in January 2023
  • A pack of 100 consecutive star notes from the New York district, still in the original BEP strap, sold for $2,880 in January 2023

These results confirm the strong demand for low serial numbers (generally under 100), solid serial numbers (all 8 digits the same), high-grade star notes, and matched/consecutive serial number sets. Collectors will pay a significant premium to own the finest, rarest, and most visually striking examples of 1957 $1 silver certificates.

How to Value Your 1957 Dollar Bill

With all the different factors in play, how can you determine the value of your specific 1957 dollar bill? First, establish which series it is (1957, 1957A, or 1957B) based on the signature combination. Next, grade its condition according to the guidelines discussed earlier. Take note of any errors or special serial numbers. Finally, consult a trusted price guide like the Standard Catalog of United States Paper Money or the Official Blackbook Price Guide to U.S. Paper Money. Online resources and currency auctions can also provide valuation data.

For rare variations like star notes, error notes, and fancy serial numbers, it‘s a good idea to show your bill to a few reputable currency dealers for their opinions on authenticity and value. Most will provide this service for free with the hope of potentially buying the note or earning your repeat business if you decide to sell. Getting several professional opinions will give you a solid range of values for your specific note.

Selling Your 1957 Silver Certificate

Once you have a reasonable estimate of what your 1957 dollar bill is worth, you have several options if you decide to sell. For a common circulated or lightly worn example worth around $5, your local coin shop would likely purchase it outright or allow you to trade it towards other items in their inventory.

For scarcer uncirculated examples, you may do better selling the note yourself directly to another collector. Online marketplaces like eBay allow you to set your own price and reach a wide base of potential buyers. Remember to charge enough to offset listing fees and shipping costs if you go this route.

If you think you have a particularly rare and valuable error note or serial number, your best option is probably to consign it to a well-publicized currency auction. Leading numismatic auction houses like Heritage Auctions and Stack‘s Bowers have experts on staff who will professionally grade, authenticate, and market your note to their extensive list of proven currency collectors. Naturally, they will take a seller‘s fee for their services, but you‘ll usually net more for a significant rarity by selling it at auction.

Affordable History in Your Hands

All things considered, 1957 $1 silver certificates offer collectors a chance to own an important piece of American monetary history for a modest price. Unless you find a rare error or fancy serial number, circulated examples of this iconic vintage currency can be obtained for the price of a fast food combo meal. Over 5 billion of them were printed, so they‘re not hard to find.

At the same time, the 1957 dollar bill represents a transitional issue that is historically significant. It was the first appearance of "In God We Trust" on paper money and the last gasp of large size $1 silver certificates. Uncirculated examples, star notes, and other variations do bring respectable premiums in the marketplace. So before you spend that old dollar bill, it might just pay to check if it‘s a 1957 series!

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