Significance of the One-Dollar Bill Series of 1963

By Cam Merritt
The $1 bill became a Federal Reserve note in 1963.

One-dollar bills in the 1963 series are noteworthy for a couple of reasons. One of them is related to the history of U.S. currency, while the other is of interest primarily to political trivia buffs. Bills in the series were printed from 1963 until early 1969. Unlike coins, bills are dated according to their design, not the year they're produced.

The First Reserve Notes

For the most part, the $1 bill was finalized in 1963. That's the first year it was issued as a Federal Reserve note rather than as a "silver certificate." Those certificates were notes that could be exchanged for their face value in silver. If they wanted, people in the pre-1963 world could bring a $1 bill to the U.S. Treasury and swap it for a dollar's worth of silver. Rising silver prices in the 1960s prompted Congress to not only eliminate the certificates but also stop using silver in the production of coins meant for circulation.

Barr Bills

All U.S. currency bears the signature of the treasury secretary. In January 1969, Treasury Secretary Joseph W. Barr resigned after just a month on the job, making his term in that office the shortest in U.S. history. Collectors at the time believed this meant $1 notes with his signature would be rare. There was a rush to snap up 1963B notes, which were dubbed "Barr bills." Barr's signature, however, wound up being printed on nearly half a billion $1 bills, so there was plenty of supply.

About the Author

Cam Merritt is a writer and editor specializing in business, personal finance and home design. He has contributed to USA Today, The Des Moines Register and Better Homes and Gardens"publications. Merritt has a journalism degree from Drake University and is pursuing an MBA from the University of Iowa.