The King of Silvers

Posted on 2/16/2016

The low printing and survival rate of the 1933 $10 Silver Certificate makes it one of the most desirable notes on almost every collector's wish list.

Last November I wrote about Experimental Silver Certificates and the importance of this specific issue during the turbulent times of the Depression Era in the early 20th Century. This time around I want to take on the 1933 $10 Silver Certificate - "The King of Silvers.”

Mere mention of the date 1933 conjures up some thoughts of the most fabled items in numismatics including the clandestine 1933 $20 Double Eagles. In the world of paper money, no Federal banknote carries this date except FR: 1700, the 1933 $10 Silver Certificate.

1933 $10 Silvers carry the Julian / Woodin signature combination. The Series was actually cut short with the retirement of Woodin and the administration’s change in silver policy. The official print run was only 216,000 notes. The situation is further complicated as government records indicate a large number of 1933 notes (some 60,000) were destroyed along with the entire 1933A issue. It is therefore suggested that ultimately only 156,000 Series 1933 $10 silvers were released. Today, the actual number of survivors equates to the smallest fraction of the total number released.

$10 1933 Silver Certificate from the Thomas M Flynn Collection
Click image to enlarge.

What is it though that makes the 1933 $10 Silver Certificate so desirable? The low printing and low survival rate is certainly a huge draw. The 1933 $10 Silver Certificate is in fact a “one year type.” Its unique redemption clause puts it at the top of almost every collector's wish list. All Small Size Silver Certificates (and Large Size for that matter) state “in silver payable to the bearer on demand” with the exception of FR: 1700 which states “payable in silver coin to the bearer on demand” giving it a further tie into numismatics.

There is however a small but growing camp of contrarians that believe the 1933 $10 Silver Certificate is somewhat overrated. I thought a head-to-head comparison may provide the answer:

There are only 50+ known survivors of the 1933 $10 Silver Certificate. PMG has graded 22 examples in CU 60 or higher. Most of these come from known print runs or are presentation notes in the form of fancy or low serial numbers.

Compare this with the 1934B $10 Silver Certificate. PMG has graded 21 examples in CU 60 or higher. Despite only 337,740 being released, we’ve graded 1 less than the 1933! So there may in fact be some rationale that the 1934B is a sleeper.

$10 1934B Silver Certificate from the Thomas M Flynn Collection
Click image to enlarge.

As if the 1933 $10 Silver is not rare enough in its own right, there has been mention or discussion of the replacement / star version of this rarity. Most agree that FR: 1700* is unknown as data collection sources and population reports indicate zero examples. Yet, evidence does exist of an auction in the early 1990s containing one of these notes. It was the Dr. Bernard Schaaf Collection sold at Stack's in 1993. This elevates the classic to a new mind boggling level.

Lot 1578 sold by Stack's in 1993, part of the Dr. Bernard Schaaf Collection
Click image to enlarge.

Specific banknote features may be “typical” on certain US currency issues. The 1933 $10 Silver is also one such note. Such examples may be typically seen: poorly inked, broadly margined, or well embossed.

It is predominantly seen on positions “A” and “G” and “F and L.” This would make sense as these positions are across from each other in a 12 subject sheet. If one were to encounter one of these notes with well centered or even margins, regardless of grade, it should really be considered an added bonus; since this issue is not normally found this way.

In closing, the 1933 $10 Silver Certificate will always be a huge demand item. It was a short print run and was followed by much of the issue being destroyed. Today the 1933 $10 Silver boasts one of the lowest survival rates of small size and large size currency issues. Its unique redemption clause makes this a “one year type” and worthy of the title: “The King of Silvers.”


PMG is an independent member of the Certified Collectibles Group (CCG).

Stay Informed

Want news like this delivered to your inbox once a month? Subscribe to the free PMG eNewsletter today!


You've been subscribed to the PMG eNewsletter.

Unable to subscribe to our eNewsletter. Please try again later.

Articles List