Cuban silver certificates (Spanish: Certificado De Plata) were issued between 1934 and 1949 (and circulated from 1935 to the early 1950s). Prior and subsequent issues of Cuban banknotes were engraved and printed by nongovernmental private bank note companies in the United States, but the series from 1934 to 1949 were designed, engraved, and printed by the US government at the Bureau of Engraving and Printing (BEP).
The first Cuban banknotes were issued in 1857 for El Banco Español De La Habana. Beginning in the late 1860s, Cuba contracted the National Bank Note Company (NBNC) for two issues of banknotes in 1869 and 1872. After absorbing NBNC, the American Bank Note Company (ABNC) engraved and printed Cuban banknotes for issues in 1889, 1896, 1897, 1905 for the National Bank of Cuba, 1944, and a 1949–50 issue for the Banco Nacional De Cuba (printed until 1960). Between 1905 and the introduction of BEP issued Cuban silver certificates in 1934, no banknotes were produced.
Cuban silver certificates made by the Bureau of Engraving and Printing
The legal foundation for the issuance of Cuban silver certificates began with a Cuban law passed on 10 May 1933 authorizing the production of $6,000,000 in silver pesos in order to back an equal number of silver certificates. On 11 December 1933, the Cuban government announced that it planned to issue a total of $17,000,000 in silver certificates. In a letter dated 2 March 1934, Cuban Ambassador Manuel Márquez Sterling wrote to Secretary of State Cordell Hull requesting that the Bureau of Engraving and Printing (BEP) prepare silver certificates on behalf of the Republic of Cuba. The coining of Cuban silver pesos began pursuant to Decree-Law No. 93 (22 March 1934) and it was announced that both the coins and banknotes would be produced by the United States. Treasury Secretary Henry Morgenthau, Jr. gave initial authorization to the Cuban request to engage the BEP on 23 April 1934. Though not exhaustive, there were several additional legal changes to Cuba’s financial infrastructure. Silver certificates could be used to pay duties, taxes and other fees, without limit (Decree-Law No. 153, 19 April 1934) and should be accepted in the same manner as silver coins (Decree-Law No. 176, 27 April 1934). On 11 May 1934 the design process began at the Bureau of Engraving and Printing.