DEFINITION of 'Silver Certificate'
Former legal tender (paper currency) issued by the U.S. government beginning in 1878. A certificate represented a stated amount of silver bullion purchased or held by an investor. These certificates were created to allow an investor to purchase silver without having to take physical possession of the investment. Certificates were deemed payable to the bearer upon demand.
BREAKING DOWN 'Silver Certificate'
Although the U.S. stopped minting silver coins in 1806, both gold and silver coins were usable as legal tender until 1861. Today silver certificates can be redeemed for their face value in cash in the U.S. but not in actual silver.