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What Happened To The Larger Denomination Dollar Bills (Infographic By Car Title Loans California)

By sbanderas | March 13 2019
Categories: Blog,  infographics

denomination dollar bills

What Happened to Larger Denomination Dollar Bills?

Once upon a time, there were large denomination dollar bills: $1,000, $5,000, even $10,000 bills were once in circulation in the United States.

Nowadays, even your local convenient store might be skeptical about receiving bills larger than $20. So, what exactly happened to larger denomination dollar bills authorized by the government for circulation?

Big Bills formerly Issued by the US Government

The US treasury once issued larger denomination dollar bills of $500, $1,000, $5,000, and $10,000.

The $500 bill featured William McKinley, Grover Cleveland appeared on the $1,000 bill, James Madison had his image on the $5,000 bill, and the $10,000 bill featured Salmon P. Chase.

However, everything changed in 1928 when the US Government revamped the entire dollar bill printing system.

This banknote overhaul did not only established the circulation of smaller dollar bills (that is the $1 to $100 bills), it also saw the length and width of the dollar note size reduced by an inch and half an inch respectively.

The Largest Dollar Bill Ever Printed by the US

The largest currency denomination that the United States have printed is the $100,000 gold certificate.

The Bureau of Engraving and Printing printed these currency notes within the space of three weeks; December 1934 to January 1935.

These $100,000 bills had the image of Woodrow Wilson on them, and the main purpose why they were printed was for official transactions between Federal Reserve Banks only.

The treasurer of the United States also had the authority to issue out this currency denomination to banks with an equal amount of gold in the treasury.

The use of this dollar note was not open to all. Even influential plutocrats who had huge amount of money during the depression era were not authorized to carry a note of the $100,000 bill.

Why Did the US Government Initially Print Large Bills?

The real reason why the US treasury started printing such huge currency denomination is not so that the rich can stuff huge cash amount in their wallets.

The purpose for the printing of these giant bills was solely for transfer transactions between banks and other financial institutes.

Back in the day, before the advent of direct wire transfer systems for financial purposes, the transfer of large amount of cash from one bank to another is faster and easier with these large bills. A bank can easily send $10,000 cash over to another bank since the entire cash amount is only a single banknote.

However, as technology continue to advance, and cash transfer systems became more secure and safer, the need for these large dollar bills gradually became extinct.

Is The Large Denomination of Currency Still in Circulation?

Well, it is not as if you all ATM machines on the streets are loaded with $500 bills, but these large bills still exist.

The Bureau of Engraving and Printing never actually put an end to the printing of these bills; nevertheless, there had not been an actual print of these bills since 1945.

The US Treasury only announced in July 14, 1969 that the issuance of the $500, $1,000, $5,000, and $10,000 dollar notes would be discontinued. The reason for this decision was that the bills were gradually becoming sparse in circulation.

Although the decision to terminate the circulation of these bills seemed like a smart one at the time, some of these high dollar note were still left in circulation.

These large bank notes still existed in collectors’ safes. They were also auctioned for prices that are much larger than their face value. For example, a Madison $5,000 bill in an open market can fetch as much as $100,000.

Can Any of These High-Denomination Dollar Notes be Tendered in Today’s Bank?

In reality, there are consequences of bringing any of these big dollar notes to a bank, especially if you are on a lam.

For example, if you are on a getaway from the city, and you enter a bank with any of these large dollar bills, then you have already exposed yourself to the wrath of the law.

In February 2009, three minors in Texas Township, Michigan took out a vintage $1,000 bill from their parents’ safe and attempted to change it into smaller denominations at a bank in Birmingham, Alabama. 

The thing is; you are free to preserve these big bills in your safety deposit box.

Chase Bank got a $10,000 bill added to their currency collection when a family member of one of their deceased customers found the dollar bill in her safe deposit box. The womantraded the bill for the equivalent cash; meaning that you can be able to deposit the cash equivalence of an antique bill into your checking account.

However, due to the 1969 decision to terminate the distribution and circulation of these large currency denominations, banks have taken appropriate measures to remove these bills from circulation, destroying every one of the collected bills in the process.

$1 Million Bills– Are They Real?

There are no real $1 million bills, although people have attempted to make one. And as long as you do not try to spend it or deposit the cash equivalent of this joker currency into your personal account, you are safe.

A woman picked up a tab worth $1,675 at a local Wal-Mat in Covington, Georgia sometime in 2004, and attempted to pay for the item with a $1 million note that had the image of the Statue of Liberty on it. The police wasted no time in apprehending her.

Novelty $1 million bills had been printed in the past as practical jokes. 

What about the $2 note?

The $2 million notes on the other hand are a legal US currency denomination.

As stated by the US Treasury, the $2 bills currently in circulation worldwide are worth over $1.5 billion.

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