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How Much Is A 1935 Dollar Bill Worth? (Value Guides)

How Much Is A 1935 Dollar Bill Worth? (Value Guides)

$1 bills are sometimes called singles, and like many currencies, they’re a blend of cotton and paper. The ratio is 75% cotton to 25% paper, and this blend is more durable than plain paper, and it allows dollar bills to survive about 6 years in circulation before they need replacement. But how much is a 1935 dollar bill worth? In average condition, $1. But rarities hit $16,000!

All About the $1 Bill

Back when American coins contained precious metals, they were routinely melted down because their face value often fell below their melt value. At such times, citizens hoarded and melted coins, leading to shortages and volatile price fluctuations. Paper money was used to stop these currency gaps, but the public dismissed these cash notes that couldn’t be melted.

At one time, paper money was so despised that people called them shinplasters. Shinplasters were scraps of paper that a soldier would stuff inside his military boots so that his legs would not chafe and they wouldn’t develop a rash. But with coins being so scarce, paper money was essential. Neighborhood stores, regional banks, and some states offered localized currency.

To streamline the countrywide trading process, the Secretary of the Treasury stuck postage stamps to treasury sheets aka postal currency. The Secretary introduced these notes as representative money. His name was Francis Spinner, and he served under Abraham Lincoln. Over time, the treasury printed the likeness of stamps rather than actual stamps.

These new notes were called fractional currency, and they came in six denominations ranging from 3 cents to 50 cents. Fractional currency notes were used from 1862 to 1876. That year, the government minted fractional silver coins to buy up the last of those paper shinplaster notes. The next step was the silver certificate dollar bill, a treasury note swapped for silver.

You could trade them for silver dollars or raw bullion, and vice versa. The denominations were $10 to $1,000 before smaller sets of $1, $3, and $5 silver certificates in 1886. These certificates were used from 1878 to 1964. They’re still around today, but you can only swap them for cash notes, not for silver. One-dollar silver certificates were the first official $1 bills.

The Case of the 1935 One Dollar Bill

Initially, the dollar was pegged on both gold and silver. A dollar could be exchanged at the bank for a pre-set amount of gold and silver. This is called the bimetallism or the bimetallic standard. But the Fourth Coinage Act of 1873 aka the Mint Act aka the Crime of ’73 switched dollars to the gold standard. You could only trade paper notes for gold, and it devalued silver.

Silver certificates were then issued to facilitate silver swaps at the bank. On coins, the date says when the currency was minted, but on federal reserve notes, dates indicate alterations in the currency’s design. This sometimes included a letter of the alphabet for minor changes e.g. signatures. 1935 dollar bills had the letters A to H, and the next date on $1 bills was 1957.

Another reason why 1935 dollar bills are so significant is the passage of the Silver Act in 1934. It paved the way for the $1 bill to become an independent form of legal tender. But the 1935 design stayed in place for decades, and some 1935 dollar bills were actually printed in 1963, the year when the Silver Purchase Act was repealed. By 1964, $1 singles were official.

The 1935 dollar bill had George Washington on the obverse (that’s the front side or heads) and the Great US Seal on the obverse (that’s the back, or tails side). It was the first year that the official seal was placed on $1 notes, elevating them from silver certificates to formal currency. Before this, people used the 1928 $1 silver certificate, nicknamed the funnyback.

Funnybacks had an oddly stylized ‘One’ on the back, and by 1935, they had ceded to the modern dollar, which measured 6.14 inches by 2.16 inches and was 11mm thick. Visually, 1934 dollars used a blue font on ‘1’ while 1935 dollars had a grey font. Both notes said ‘one dollar’ instead of ‘one silver dollar’ to reflect the stoppage of silver redemption for $1 bills.

Common Errors in the 1935 Dollar Bill

Today, $1 notes all have that famous motto ‘In God We Trust’. So some novice collectors mistakenly believe 1935 dollar bills should have it too, and count its absence as an error. In reality, the motto first appeared on $1 notes in 1957. That means singles from 1935 look a lot like today’s notes, but none of them have the motto. One puzzling exception exists though.

The $1 silver certificate designated 1935G had some bills with the motto and some without. The 1935H certificates had no motto, and that was the last note in this style before 1957 $1 bills appeared. While 1934 and 1935 $1 bills had ‘One Dollar’ at the bottom instead of ‘One Silver Dollar’, the top still announced them as a ‘Silver Certificate’ for silver bullion swaps.

A typical error on these notes was the non-chronological order of signatures. Remember, 1935 dollar bills were printed using the same plates until 1957, with some leaving the mint as late as 1963. The notes were marked A to H to show differences in the signatures and such, but as the dies got older, these official signatures were sometimes printed in the wrong order.

For a quick spot test, the 1935 dollar bill had a blue treasury seal and was backed by silver. Today’s $1 bills have a green treasury seal and are fully fiat notes, which means you can’t exchange them at the bank for gold or silver. Curiously, when the notes were first introduced, people would sometimes cut them into halves or quarters to make change, just like old coins!

Some variants of the 1935 dollar bill have brown seals. These Hawaii notes were used after the Pearl Harbour attack. North Africa notes had a yellow seal $1 bills were mostly used in World War II. $1 notes with a C in their grade could either mean ‘Choice’ or ‘Crisp’ and are in uncirculated condition. Below are confirmed sale prices for a few 1935 dollar bill specimens.

Seal Series & Grade Errors & Other Details Price
Blue Seal 1935S XF40 PPQ Retained Printed Obstruction Error $3,700
Blue Seal 1935D CU63 EPQ Solid Serial Number (Z99999999F) $4,000
Blue Seal 1935E SG65 PPQ No Errors, Specimen Note $5,000
Blue Seal 1935A G65 PPQ No Errors, Experimental Note, Star Note $16,000

 

Apart from their seal color and condition, $1 bills with unique serial numbers can be quite valuable. Examples are solid numbers (e.g. all 8s) and single-digit numbers (e.g. 00000001). Bills with sequential serial numbers (e.g. 00200154 up to 00200165) can sell as a set for big bucks. And if the left and right serial numbers aren’t the same, currency dealers pay a lot!

Grading 1935 Dollar Bills

Paper money can be graded just like coin currency. The PCGS (Professional Coin Grading Service) offers appraisals for bank notes, but the NGC (Numismatic Guaranty Corporation) doesn’t. You can also get your $1 bills graded by the PMG (Paper Money Guaranty). PMG uses a system derived from the Sheldon Scale for coins. Below are the available paper grades:

  • Good (G) – 4, 6
  • Very Good (VG) – 8, 10
  • Fine (F) – 12
  • Choice Fine (CF) – 15
  • Very Fine (VF) – 20, 25, 30
  • Choice Very Fine (CVF) – 35
  • Extremely Fine (XF) – 40
  • Choice Extremely Fine (CXF) – 45
  • About Uncirculated (AU) – 50, 53, 55
  • Choice About Uncirculated (CAU) – 58
  • Uncirculated (U) – 60, 61, 62
  • Choice Uncirculated (CU) – 63, 64
  • Gem Uncirculated (GU) – 65, 66
  • Superb Gem Uncirculated (SGU) – 67, 68, 69
  • PMG Star – 70

PMG has an additional grade they call EPQ – Exceptional Paper Quality for grades above 65. A note graded 20 to 64 might also be graded EPQ if its condition is top-notch. At the lower end, they have a ‘net’ grade, which means the banknote is genuine but damaged. PMG fees range from $22 to over $300, but you can get discounts as low as $14 for bulk submissions.

You can get a free grading at the $0 tier or pay $25 to $299 for extra membership benefits. As for PCGS, they grade notes from 1 to 70 and their grading fees range from $20 to $200+. Their grading scale for paper money is similar to PMGs with a few key differences. Their premium grade is PPQ instead of the EPQ assigned by PMG. Below are PCGS paper grades:

  • Good (G) – 4, 6
  • Very Good (VG) – 8, 10
  • Fine (F) – 12, 15
  • Very Fine (VF) – 20, 25, 30
  • Choice Very Fine (CVF) – 35
  • Extremely Fine (XF) – 40
  • Choice Extremely Fine (CXF) – 45
  • About Uncirculated (AU) – 50, 53, 55
  • Choice About Uncirculated (CAU) – 58
  • Uncirculated (U) – 60, 61, 62
  • Choice Uncirculated (CU) – 63, 64
  • PPQ Gem Uncirculated (GU) – 65, 66
  • PPQ Superb Gem Uncirculated (SGU) – 67, 68, 69, 70

PCGS only performs appraisals for their paid members, and subscriptions are $69 to $249. Also, PPQ stands for Premium Paper Quality and applies to notes graded above 65. High-quality notes above grade VF25 can also get the PPQ status. PPQ notes must be in original state with no repairs or restoration. Genuine but damaged notes are designated as ‘details’.

The Power of a 1935 Dollar

How much is a 1935 dollar worth? Ordinary circulated notes are only worth a dollar. In high grades, these collectible notes have fetched as much as $16,000! Star notes or replacement notes (made to substitute dollar bills damaged during the minting process) are more valuable.

They’ll have an asterisk next to the serial number. Apart from the A to H that identify 1935 $1 notes, look out for the red R or S on some $1 notes. R is for standard printing paper while S is for experimental printing sheets. Tell us about your 1935 dollar bills in the comments! 

Caleb

Sunday 4th of December 2022

How much is my 1935 1 dollar bill worth

Herbert Fenner

Thursday 1st of December 2022

1935 A serial number M last letter A

Sue

Wednesday 30th of November 2022

I have Series 1935 E one dollar bill beginning letter N end letter H blue seal stamped Washington DC - lower right hand I 7900 - value?

Dan Acton

Thursday 24th of November 2022

Hi Rob, I have a 1935 Silver Cert - H series with "In God We Trust" motto on the back. I read in your article that the "H" series in not have the motto at all. Is this a find? Going through my dad's collection.

Have a 1935 blue dollar what is the value the letter is K

Saturday 19th of November 2022

What is a blue dollar 1930 5K worth