Currency Spotlight: Series Of 1899 Black Eagle Silver Certificate
The 1899 $1 Silver Black Eagle was issued for twenty years. This means that, although each bill has the year 1899 printed on it, this doesn’t mean that is the year in which it was issued. To determine the actual date of issuance, it is important to examine its block letters and signature combination.
The 1899 $1 Black Eagle is quite common and not difficult to find, at least not yet. Much of this has to do with its print count, as the American government originally printed over one hundred million. Out of these, thousands are still in existence. This presents an excellent opportunity for collectors as they can get their hands on these bills before they become rare at which point their value will rise substantially.
These bills display three vignettes, which are of Abraham Lincoln, Ulysses S. Grant, and an eagle, which the bill is named after. The two presidents are usually ignored, since they appear on other bills. No one really knows where the term “Black Eagle” came from, but it has a nice ring to it and has stuck. This bill is a silver certificate meaning that it was issued at a time when the United States was under a silver standard and could be redeemed directly for physical silver.
This particular bill presents an excellent opportunity for amateur currency collectors to get started in the hobby without spending a lot of money, and to acquire a piece of currency that will in all likelihood become quite rare one day. It is best to look for the serial numbers which are low from each of the twelve signature combinations. A lot of these bills also feature courtesy autographs, which means that the official at the Treasury signed the note by hand.
As with all currency, the condition of these bills is paramount. The most valuable Black Eagles will be those with a serial number beneath one hundred, with a signature combination. Of course, should the serial number start with a star symbol, this is a bonus. A standard Black Eagle is typically valued today at a few hundred dollars, with those displaying desirable serial numbers being over $700. A bill which has a signature combination which is rare could be valued at around $1500.
When you come across most Black Eagles at antique or coin shops, you should expect to see various levels of damage. After all, these bills are over one hundred years old. Typical blemishes include stains, missing pieces, stains or tears. You shouldn’t pay more than $30 for such bills; they are just too damaged to be worth more than that. The more desirable issues are those which are Extremely Fine, About Circulated or Fine. These are notes that have few folds and are virtually free of damage. The best bills have a good color and robust paper.