Insights

Collectors, dealers who redeemed silver certificates between 1964 and 1968 received granules in return

Readers Ask column from Aug. 11, 2014, issue of Coin World
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By Coin World Staff , Coin World
Published : 08/05/14
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If possible, can you tell me more of the history of these Silver Pak items and whether there were other U.S. Treasury varieties? 

I have seen “Pellet” silver style vials with generic labels. None I have seen, except for possibly in a coin shop with my dad in the early 1960s, come even close to the Silver Pak’s look and authenticity. I have enclosed pictures of mine. 

I have only seen four of these. I would like to have a few more, but I cannot find anybody selling! Whatever you can tell me about these item(s) will be greatly appreciated.

Darrin Irwin, Erie, Pa.

It’s possible that while the silver granules in the reader’s Silver Pak could have come from the Treasury stockpile, the packaging may be from a private enterprise.

Ron Gillio, senior numismatic and consignment director for U.S. and world coins at Stack’s Bowers Galleries, says he’s never seen a government-issued packaging option like the Silver Pak.

Gillio said he redeemed hundreds of thousands of silver certificates at the San Francisco Assay Office in 1966 and 1967, for which he received silver bullion for resale.

For large numbers of notes redeemed, the government paid out bullion in the form of large flat, rectangular bars, with the weight in troy ounces written in black grease pencil. No weight, fineness or bar number was stamped into each bar, Gillio said. 

Those who redeemed just a few notes were presented separate little plastic bags containing $1 in silver granules for each $1 in notes redeemed. Each $1 silver granule packet contained 0.773 troy ounce of pure silver, the amount of silver in a standard U.S. silver dollar.

Small silver bars in various weights and stamped with the seal of the San Francisco Assay Office were paid in exchange for scrap silver for melting, according to Gillio, and not for silver certificate redemption.

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6 comments
I was a kid and redeemed a few silver certificates at the San Francisco mint. I remember the bars that the adults with lots of silver certificates got (I think the bars averaged 100 troy ounces). They were marked with grease pencil, and the clerks wrapped each bar in a brown paper bag which they taped closed. The granules weren't in plastic bags. They were in small kraft paper envelopes about 2 inches by 4 inches. Each envelope contained a dollar's worth of silver.
When did they stop redeeming silver certificates for silver?
I've got about 400 to 600 silver certificates some in consecutive order I'm willing to trade them if someone wants to my email is bsimmons@eeslp.com
I bought a bar from a certificate redeemer that was larger than a brick and weighed just over 1,000 ounces and the weight was marked with a black grease pen, just as described above. For many years I used it as doorstop until selling it to Silver Towne some time in the 70s.
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That sure brings back a memory!
I didn't recall the date (until I read it in the article), but I remember my mother bringing me from Queens (where we lived) to the US Assay Office in Manhattan with about 20-30 $1 silver certificates I had saved.
We were last in line, and I hoped they wouldn't close the doors before we got in. A news reporter started to interview my mother, and everything was going well until an older man got in line behind us. The reporter then ignored us and started interviewing him!
While I wasn't the last person to redeem silver certificates for silver at least I got it! It was in a plastic bag which I still have today!
Vince Vento
Alii Coins- Kaneohe, Hawaii