How Much Is a 1935 Silver Certificate Worth? A Collector‘s Guide

For both experienced collectors and those new to the world of paper money, one of the most common and intriguing notes is the 1935 silver certificate. These $1 bills emblazoned with the blue "One Silver Dollar" seal were printed in the hundreds of millions, yet certain varieties can be worth thousands of times their face value to the right buyer.

Whether you‘ve inherited one of these certificates or are actively collecting them, determining the value of a 1935 silver certificate can seem daunting given all the different series, grades, and rare variations. In this comprehensive guide, we‘ll walk you through everything you need to know to accurately assess what your note might sell for and why.

But first, let‘s travel back to the heyday of the silver certificate to understand what makes these notes both valuable and fascinating from a historical perspective.

The Rise and Fall of U.S. Silver Certificates

The story of silver certificates begins in the 1870s, when the U.S. government first authorized the Treasury to issue paper currency redeemable for silver held in its vaults. At the time, this was a way to increase the money supply while allowing citizens to still feel connected to the security of precious metals.

Silver certificates hit their peak during the late 19th century Free Silver Movement, when Western mining interests and rural Populists pushed for unlimited silver coinage to counter the deflation and economic instability of the Gilded Age. While they never got their wish of a 16:1 silver to gold standard, the silver lobby did achieve the widespread issuance of silver-backed currency.

Over the next several decades, silver certificates went through numerous design and policy changes. The 1935 series was notable for its sheer volume, with over 1.6 billion $1 notes printed across 8 different sub-series (1935 and 1935-A through G). It was also the last series of silver certificates issued in the $1 denomination.

Here are the printing totals for each 1935 $1 silver certificate series, which play a key role in their collectible value:

Series Printing Total
1935 248,832,000
1935-A 354,396,000
1935-B 247,416,000
1935-C 301,344,000
1935-D 255,396,000
1935-E 971,992,000
1935-F 920,176,000
1935-G 1,002,480,000

As you can see, some of these series are significantly more common than others. The 1935-E and 1935-F in particular dwarf the earlier releases. But as we‘ll explore, even scarce certificates in sub-optimal condition are not necessarily valuable. It all comes down to the specific combination of factors that excite collectors and investors.

After 1935, silver certificates continued to be printed with different designs, but by the 1960s, rising silver prices and dwindling reserves made their redemption untenable. In 1968, the government ended convertibility, and silver certificates became just another form of fiat currency. The era of money backed by actual silver was over.

Grading: The Most Critical Factor for Value

Now that we‘ve set the historical stage, let‘s dive into the single most important aspect for determining a 1935 silver certificate‘s worth: condition and grade. As with most collectibles, the better shape a note is in, the more it will usually sell for.

Paper money grading is both an art and a science, with numerous objective and subjective criteria. The top grading companies like PMG and PCGS use the 70-point Sheldon Scale, which starts at 1 for barely identifiable "poors" and goes up to 70 for perfect, flawless uncirculated notes.

Here‘s a simplified breakdown of the different grade ranges and what to look for:

  • Poor (P-1 to P-4) or Fair (Fr-5 to Fr-9): Heavily worn, soiled, and often with pieces missing. Only collectible as fillers or curiosities.
  • About Good (AG-10 to AG-15): Still very rough with folds, stains, and roundness to the corners. A step up, but not by much. Most 1935 $1 silver certificates in this grade sell for $2 to $10.
  • Fine (F-12 to F-19): Moderate wear and discoloration but mostly intact. A solid collectible grade for common notes. Expect $10 to $25 for a 1935 in Fine.
  • Very Fine (VF-20 to VF-39): Only light circulation wear with some crispness left. A nice balance of visual appeal and affordability. VF 1935 certificates go for $20 to $50.
  • Extremely Fine (XF-40 to XF-49): Just the slightest hints of circulation with strong ink, color and eye appeal. A great choice for type collectors on a budget. Most 1935 series in XF range from $40 to $100.
  • About Uncirculated (AU-50 to AU-59): Virtually no trace of wear. May have a single fold or bend. Often collected alongside true uncirculated notes. AU 1935 silver certificates can go for $75 to $200 or more depending on series and other factors.
  • Uncirculated (MS-60 to MS-70): Notes with no sign of circulation at all. The pinnacle for most collectors. Within the uncirculated range, the numerical grade makes a huge difference:
    • MS-60 to MS-63: May have blemishes, dings, or mishandled. Still a huge step up from even AU. Most uncirculated 1935 silver certificates fall in this range and are worth $100 to $500.
    • MS-64: Strictly uncirculated but not quite gem quality. Notes in this grade are scarce and command significant premiums, often over $1,000.
    • MS-65 and up: Nearly perfect and flawless. The unicorns of paper money. Gem uncirculated 1935 silver certificates, especially rare series and star notes, can sell for over $10,000.

Of course, these are just general ranges. Let your eye be the judge, but for anything valuable, it‘s best to have it authenticated and graded by the experts. A one or two point difference on the scale can mean hundreds or thousands of dollars at the high end.

What to Look For: Key Diagnostics of Valuable 1935 Silver Certificates

Beyond the technical grade, there are several specific traits and varieties that can make a 1935 silver certificate especially desirable. Here are the key things to look out for:

Rare Sub-Series: As the mintage chart showed, not all 1935 series are equally common. Pre-1935-E certificates in uncirculated condition always sell for solid premiums.

Star Notes: Notes with a star symbol at the end of the serial number were used to replace misprints. Star notes are much scarcer and command higher prices in any series, often at least double a normal note in the same grade.

Low Serial Numbers: Any serial number below 100 (00000001 to 00000100) is considered a prized "low number" note. These were among the first notes printed in each series. Even non-star low numbers can be worth hefty sums.

Fancy Serial Numbers: Certain serial number patterns are also highly collectible, such as:

  • Solid numbers (11111111, 22222222, etc)
  • Radar numbers (12344321, 80000008)
  • Repeaters (11331133, 29292929)
  • Ladders (12345678, 23456789)
  • High grades of these types can turn a common note into a valuable treasure.

Misprints and Errors: Mistakes happen, and in collecting, some mistakes are worth a fortune. Major printing errors on 1935 silver certificates include:

  • Gutter folds (parts of next note printed on the edge)
  • Alignment errors (overprints not centered)
  • Inverted or missing seals and serial numbers
  • Rare instances of double denominations

The most dramatic and noticeable errors tend to bring the biggest bucks. A striking 1935 double denomination error sold for $16,000 back in 2005!

Special Issuance Notes: Two varieties of 1935 silver certificates were specially printed for use in Hawaii and North Africa during World War II:

  • 1935-A Hawaii brown seal notes have the word HAWAII printed on both sides to deter Japanese counterfeiting. High grade Hawaii notes easily sell for over $500.
  • 1935-A North Africa yellow seal notes were issued to U.S. troops to prevent their money from falling into enemy hands. They are even rarer, with gems easily worth over $1,000.

Experimental "S" and "R" Notes: Some 1935-A $1 silver certificates were printed on special paper as a test of its durability. Notes with an "S" (special) or "R" (regular) next to the serial number are rare and highly sought after. An uncirculated "S" note can be worth $1,000 or more.

Find Out What Your 1935 Silver Certificate is Worth

Now that you know all the key aspects to consider, here‘s a step-by-step process to determine the potential value of your 1935 silver certificate:

  1. Identify the series (1935 to 1935-G).
  2. Look for any of the special varieties and errors noted above.
  3. Assess the note‘s condition and approximate its grade.
  4. Consult a price guide like the Friedberg Paper Money of the United States or the PCGS Banknote Price Guide to get a ballpark retail figure.
  5. Contact reputable currency dealers and auction houses to gauge their interest and offers.
  6. Consider having the note professionally graded if it‘s in exceptional condition.
  7. Remember that the market can fluctuate, so value is never set in stone.

Here are some recent real-world selling prices to give you an idea of how all these factors come together:

  • A PMG-graded MS-67 1935-G silver certificate star note sold for $8,100 in 2022
  • An MS-63 1935-A North Africa note fetched $3,995 in 2021
  • An MS-65 1935-D with serial number D00000019A realized $5,040 in 2022
  • A PCGS MS-64 1935-E star note sold for $1,980 in 2020

These are just a few examples of 1935 silver certificates that tick multiple boxes – high grade, special varieties, and strong eye appeal. As you can see, the series is full of both attainable entry points and true rarities for the veteran collector to chase.

Key Advice for Collecting 1935 Silver Certificates

I‘ll leave you with some expert tips for building a solid and satisfying 1935 silver certificate collection:

  • Focus on a specific series or variety that fascinates you. Trying to collect everything will become costly and overwhelming.
  • Prioritize uncirculated and lightly circulated notes. They‘ll hold their value better and can be the cornerstones of your collection.
  • Always buy the best condition you can afford, and be patient. It‘s better to save up for one really nice note than settle for fillers.
  • Educate yourself on all the diagnostics and grading standards. Knowledge is power in this game.
  • Deal only with reputable sellers and grading companies. Counterfeits and overgraded notes are sadly common.
  • Store your notes properly to preserve their condition. Use archival sleeves, folders, or albums, and keep them in a dark, temperature-controlled space.
  • Don‘t be afraid to sell or trade up when you‘re ready. An evolving collection is a sign of an evolving collector.

Remember, at the end of the day, collect what you love and love what you collect. The joy of this hobby is in the hunt and the history, not just dollar signs. A 1935 silver certificate is more than money – it‘s a tangible link to the story of the 20th century and our fascinating monetary past.

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