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Unique United States Currency

Posted on September 18th, 2016 by JoeG

We are always looking to buy antique United States Currency. Two of the coolest American bills are the 1899 $5.00 Silver Certificate Indian Chief & the 1901 $10.00 Legal Tender Bison note.

1899 $5 Silver Certificate Indian Chief

Series of 1899 $5 Silver Certificate – Indian Chief Note

History: The five dollar silver certificate has always been one of the most popular denominations to collect. There are several different design types, all of which are popular and affordable in circulated condition. The 1899 $5 silver certificate is especially popular.  It features a portrait of a Native American in full headdress.  There were three different denominations of silver certificates printed in 1899.  The five is the highest denomination and it is also the most expensive of the three types.  The 1899 $5 bill was printed up until the early 1920s.  The issue is far from ultra-rare.  But, that does not mean that you can buy this note cheaply.  High grade uncirculated examples can cost well over $1,000.
Nickname:  Most paper money dealers and collectors just call this a chief.  We have heard other people call it an Indian.  This is a situation where people are going to know what you are talking about whether you say chief or Indian.  The design is pretty obvious.

 

Other Facts:  The Native American depicted on the 1899 $5 bill is not just a random person.  It is actually chief Running Antelope.  He was a chief in the Hunkpapa tribe of Lokata Indians.  He passed away in 1896, so he never got to see his likeness on United States paper money.  This is another example of where people who appreciate American history also tend to like paper money.  Another interesting fact is that star replacement notes were first used for 1899 $5 silver certificates (in 1910).  In fact, the earliest star note known to exist actually has a solid star symbol instead of the star with a hole in it.  So if you find one of those then you have a better more valuable example.

 

Values and Grading:  The value of a chief note as in any collectable is mostly determined by its condition.  Other things like the serial number and signature combination can be important, but those are rarely a factor.  There were eleven different signature combinations used.  The Napier Thompson commands a premium in higher grades.  You also need to be aware of serial numbers.  A serial number under 100 is worth more money than a standard serial number.  If the blue serial number on your note begins with a star symbol then it will also be worth more money than a standard issue note.
Choice Uncirculated or Better: There are lots of uncirculated 1899 $5 silver certificates available in today’s market.  In fact, we once handled a consecutive pack of 100 notes.  Tens of millions of chief notes were printed.  Despite being relatively common, high grade chiefs are popular and expensive.  A correctly graded UNC chief should cost thousands.  As the condition gets nicer, then the price gets higher as well.

 

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Chief Notes In Truly Perfect Condition Can Be Worth Thousands Of Dollars

 

Extremely Fine to About Uncirculated:  There are many 1899 $5 silver certificates in about uncirculated (AU) condition.  There are probably a lot more AU examples than there are XF examples.  AU is of course worth more money though.  Something in a correctly certified AU condition should sell for over a $1000.00  .  The note pictured is the back of an 1899 $5 bill.  As you can see it has a center fold and two other vertical folds.  This is typical of what an XF note should look like.  There is typically going to be two or three folds, but no more.  An AU example should only have one fold.  It might not have any folds.  It is difficult to show the nuances  between XF, AU, and UNC notes just with photos.  You really have to hold them in your hands and up to the light in person to see the small imperfections.

 

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This Exact 1899 $5 Silver Certificate Is Worth over $1,000

 

Fine to Very Fine:  There are hundreds, and maybe even thousands, of 1899 $5 silver certificates in fine or very fine condition.  There is a big price difference between something in Fine 12 and Very Fine 35 condition.  The fine 12 could be fairly dirty with signs of hard circulation.  A Very Fine 35 might only have a handful of very light folds and the paper could otherwise be white and perfect.  The price range a couple of hundred and up.  The note pictured is slightly dirty and you can tell the paper is fairly soft and used.

 

This 1899 $5 Silver Certificate Is Worth a few hundred dollars

This 1899 $5 Silver Certificate Is Worth a few hundred dollars

 

Very Good and Lower:  It is very easy to buy 1899 $5 bills in heavily circulated condition.  They are usually available in bulk quantities.  Prices are almost always less than $300.  The grade range here would be 1 to 10 (out of 70).  At this price point you are typically going to be dealing with buyers who are just looking to fill a hole.  Things like a discoloration, stains, tears, etc., might not make a huge difference in the value.

 

Chiefs In This Grade Sell For well Under $300

Chiefs In This Grade Sell For well Under $300

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