The certificate features an image of a 19th century politician named William L. Marcy, who served as secretary of state and secretary of war in addition to being senator and governor of New York, and it is one of only two if its kind. (The other is currently housed in the National Numismatic Collection in the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, DC.)
It was issued in accordance with an 1878 law that required the government to mint several million dollars’ worth of silver bullion into coins. The metal itself, however, was deemed too heavy for convenience, so certificates such as this one, which could be exchanged for silver dollar coins, were issued instead.
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