Little Bits of History

Big Money

Posted in History by patriciahysell on July 14, 2014
The $100,000 bill

The $100,000 bill

July 14, 1969: The US Federal Reserve System officially discontinues large denomination bills. The $500 bill featured William McKinley, the $1,000 bill had Grover Cleveland on it, the $5,000 pictured James Madison, the $10,000 showed Salmon P. Chase, and the specially and rarely printed $100,000 had Woodrow Wilson on the front. The last was used for certain internal government transactions. The $1, $2, $5, $10, $20, $50, and $100 bills were left in circulation although the $2 is rarely used and often confused with counterfeit money. The large denomination bills had been issued since the founding of the country, obviously with different people on the front.

On the back of all the large bills was ornate scrollwork and denomination identifiers. They were printed in green except for the 1934 gold certificates which came in $100, $1,000. $10,000, and $100,000 denominations and had orange printing on the back. These were issued after the country went off the gold standard and gold was compulsorily confiscated by order of Franklin D. Roosevelt. These bills were used only internally and not issued to the public. The series was discontinued in 1940. Although all bills printed by the US Mint system are considered legal tender, the no longer in service bills are generally treated as collectors’ items and are worth more than their face value indicates.

The last time any of the large bills were printed in the United States was on December 27, 1945 but it took until this day until they were officially declared defunct. They had been disappearing from use for quite some time. Benny Binion had 100 of the $10,000 bills displayed at his casino in Las Vegas. The display has since been taken down and the bills sold to individual collectors. The Bird Cage Theatre in Tombstone, Arizona has an 1800s era $1,000 bill underneath a glass counter. As of May 30, 2009 there were 336 $10,000 bills known to exist. There were also 342 $5,000 and 165,372 $1,000 bills still remaining. Some of these are displayed in museums outside the country.

Most of these large bills were used by banks and by the government for large financial transactions. With the advent of electronic money systems, this became no longer needed. Richard Nixon had them removed from circulation partly because of new systems in place and partly because of the fear of counterfeiting and use in illegal activities such as drug trades and money laundering. Even with the rate of inflation since the large bills were removed – the $500 bill would purchase less today than the $100 bill did back in 1969 – there is little need for the larger bills. Neither the Department of the Treasury nor the Federal Reserve System has any plans to reissue the big bills.

The lack of money is the root of all evil. – Mark Twain

All I ask is the chance to prove that money can’t make me happy. – Spike Milligan

It’s a kind of spiritual snobbery that makes people think they can be happy without money. – Albert Camus

Money is better than poverty, if only for financial reasons. – Woody Allen

Also on this day: That’s Cool – In 1850, Dr. John Gorrie demonstrates the first air conditioner.
Darien Scheme – In 1698, Scotland tried colonizing in the Americas.
Richard Speck – In 1966, Speck went on a killing spree.
Alta, California – In 1771, a new mission was established.

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One Response

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  1. hairballexpress said, on July 14, 2014 at 4:11 pm

    Fascinating….I never knew there were such large bills printed. Great post! *(trills)*


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