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$500,000 Silver Certificate Recalls A Time When US Dollars Were “Payable in Silver Coin to Bearer on Demand”

Many gold and silverbugs don’t realize that, in some ways, collectible currencies can bring an added dimension to your their precious metals collection.

After all, wouldn’t you enjoy having a silver certificate $10 bill worth $500,000?

Thirty-nine-year-old Billy Baeder owns a 1933 $10 silver certificate. One auctioneer estimates the bill is worth at least half-million dollars. As silverbugs are familiar, the bill demonstrates an unusual inscription,  “Payable in silver coin to bearer on demand.” The serial number makes the bill even more special: “A00000001A.”

That serial number makes this bill number 1.

This represents possibly the most valuable bill printed since 1929, when bills were shrunk to their current size.

Baeder told Philly.com that his late father, also a collector, bought the bill two dozen years ago for about the price of a compact car. In case you’re keeping track, that appreciation makes the silver increase over the past decade seem relatively insignificant.

Matthew Quinn, assistant director of currency for auction house Stack’s Bowers, believes the bill “would easily be worth about $500,000 and up.”

Baeder has already turned down a $300,000 offer on the bill.

The “fancy serial number” gives the bill much of its value.  Believe it or not, on paper money, serial numbers might contain most the value: A bill with a serial number that’s low (starting with 00000001), a “radar” (reads same backward and forward), a “solid” (every digit the same), a “ladder” (digits count up or down), a “double quad” (like 77773333), or has one of a half-dozen other patterns, and you might have yourself a rarity.

Baeder is no stranger to collectible currencies. He recently  forked over $2,000 for a 2006 $1 bill with the serial number 00000001 to a woman who got the bill in her Walmart change.

There are about 20 shows held around the country each year focusing on currency collecting.

“That No. 1 note would easily be worth about $500,000 and up,” said Matthew Quinn, assistant director of currency for auction house Stack’s Bowers.

All 1933 silver certificates are valuable, because once the government printed 552,000 of them, it released only one-third, and apparently destroyed the rest, according to Paper Money. The Treasury was pushing a redesign after legislation authorized notes redeemable for any form of silver.

By June 1935, only 15,000 remained, ensuring they’d all be rarities.



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