Large denominations of United States currency

Large denominations of United States currency greater than $100 were circulated by the United States Treasury until 1969. Since then, U.S. dollar banknotes have only been issued in seven denominations: $1, $2, $5, $10, $20, $50, and $100.

Overview and history

Large-denomination currency (i.e., banknotes with a face value of $500 or higher)[1] had been used in the United States since the late 18th century.[2] The first $500 note was issued by North Carolina, authorized by legislation dated May 10, 1780.[3] Virginia quickly followed suit and authorized the printing of $500 and $1,000 notes on October 16, 1780[4] and $2,000 notes on May 7, 1781.[5] High-denomination treasury notes were issued, for example during the War of 1812 ($1,000 notes authorized by an act dated June 30, 1812).[6] During the American Civil War Confederate currency included $500 and $1,000 notes.[7] The earliest (1861) federal banknotes included high-denomination notes such as three-year interest-bearing notes of $500, $1,000, and $5,000, authorized by Congress on July 17, 1861.[8] In total, 11 different types of U.S. currency were issued in high-denomination notes across nearly 20 different series dates. The obverse designs of United States banknotes generally depict either historical figures, allegorical figures symbolizing significant concepts (e.g., liberty, justice), or a combination of both. The reverse designs range from abstract scroll-work with ornate denomination identifiers to reproductions of historical art works.

Public versus institutional use

Series 1934 gold certificates ($100; $1,000; $10,000; and $100,000) were issued after the gold standard was repealed and gold was compulsorily confiscated by order of President Franklin Roosevelt on March 9, 1933 (see United States Executive Order 6102). Thus the series 1934 notes were used only for intragovernmental (i.e., Federal Reserve Bank) transactions and were not issued to the public.[9] This series was discontinued in 1940. The series 1928 gold certificate reverse was printed in black and green. See History of the United States dollar.

Passive retirement

Although they are still legal tender in the United States, high-denomination bills were last printed on December 27, 1945, and were officially discontinued on July 14, 1969, by the Federal Reserve System[10] due to 'lack of use'.[11] The $5,000 and $10,000 bills had effectively disappeared well before then.[nb 1]

The Federal Reserve began taking high-denomination currency out of circulation and destroying large bills received by banks in 1969.[11] As of January 14, 2020, only 336 $10,000 bills were known to exist, along with 342 remaining $5,000 bills and 165,372 remaining $1,000 bills.[12] Due to their rarity, collectors pay considerably more than the face value of the bills to acquire them, and some are in museums in other parts of the world.

For the most part, these bills were used by banks and the federal government for large financial transactions, which was especially true for gold certificates from 1865 to 1934. However, the introduction of electronic money systems has made large-scale cash transactions mostly obsolete, and along with concerns about counterfeiting and the use of cash for unlawful activities (such as drug trafficking and money laundering), it is unlikely that the U.S. government will reissue any large-denomination currency in the foreseeable future. According to the U.S. Department of Treasury website, "The present denominations of our currency in production are $1, $2, $5, $10, $20, $50 and $100. The purpose of the United States currency system is to serve the needs of the public and these denominations meet that goal. Neither the Department of the Treasury nor the Federal Reserve System has any plans to change the denominations in use today."[13]

High-denomination banknote issuing data

Key to high denomination banknote type abbreviations[nb 2]
Abbr Type Size[nb 3] Series dates High denomination series date Comments
$500 $1,000 $5,000 $10,000 $100,000
LT Legal tender Large 1862–1923 1862
1863
1869
1874
1875
1878
1880
1862
1863
1869
1878
1880
1878 1878 [nb 4]
CITN Compound interest treasury note Exception 1863–1864 1863
1864
1864
IBN Interest bearing note Exception 1861–1865 1861
1863
1864
1865
1861
1863
1864
1865
1861
1863
1864
1865
[nb 5]
SC Silver certificate Large 1878–1923 1878
1880
1878
1880
1891
TN Treasury note Large 1890–1891 1891[nb 6] 1890
1891
NBN National bank note Large 1865–1875 1865
1875
1865
1875
FRN Federal reserve note Large 1914–1918 1918 1918 1918 1918
NGBN National gold bank note Large 1870–1883 1870[nb 7] [nb 8] [nb 9]
GC Gold certificate Large[nb 10] 1865–1922 1865
1870
1875
1882
1922
1865
1870
1875
1882
1907
1922
1865
1870
1882
1888
1865
1870
1875
1882
1888
1900
FRN Federal reserve note Small 1928–present 1928
1934
1928
1934
1928
1934
1928
1934
GC Gold certificate Small 1928–1934[nb 11] 1928 1928
1934
1928 1928
1934
1934

Table of banknotes

The National Numismatic Collection at the Smithsonian Institution contains (among other things) the Bureau of Engraving and Printing (BEP) certified proofs and the Treasury Department collection of United States currency. Using a combination of proofs and issued notes, a nearly complete type set of high-denomination currency was compiled. Notably missing are several types of Compound and Interest Bearing Notes. Printed during the early to mid-1860s on very thin paper, these high-denomination notes are virtually non-existent. Their issuance (1861–65) predates the BEP's responsibility for U.S. currency (1870s), so it is fortunate that any proofs exist in the current archives.

High denomination United States banknotes[nb 12]
Value Type Series Friedberg number Image Portrait/engraving[nb 13] Comments[nb 14]
000500$500 LT 1862–63 Fr.183c Gallatin-AlbertAlbert Gallatin 4 known (variety)
7 known (type)[20]
000500$500 LT 1869 Fr.184 Adams-John-QuincyJohn Quincy Adams
(Charles Burt)[21]
Justice
(Stephen A. Schoff)[22]
4 known (only one privately)[23]
000500$500 LT 1874–78 Fr.185b Mansfield-JosephJoseph Mansfield
(Charles Burt)[21]
Victory
(Charles Burt)[24]
000500$500 LT 1880 Fr.185l Mansfield-JosephJoseph Mansfield
(Charles Burt)[21]
Victory
(Charles Burt)[24]
5 known (variety)[nb 15]
000500$500 CITN 1864 Fr.194a
Proof
zStandard Bearer-New IronsidesStandard Bearer (left)
(George D. Baldwin)[26]
New Ironsides (right)
(James Smillie)[27]
Unknown[28]
000500$500 SC 1878 Fr.345a Sumner-CharlesCharles Sumner
(Charles Burt)[21]
Unique (variety and type)[29]
000500$500 SC 1880 Fr.345c Sumner-CharlesCharles Sumner
(Charles Burt)[21]
5 known (variety)
7 known (type)[29]
000500$500 TN 1891 Fr.379
Proof
Sherman-WilliamWilliam Tecumseh Sherman None issued[30]
000500$500 NBN 1865–75 Fr.464 zCivilization-Sirius-BurgoyneCivilization (left)
(James D. Smillie)[31]
Sirius arriving in New York (right)
Surrender of General Burgoyne (rev)
(Frederick Girsch)[32]
2 known (variety)
3 known (type)[33]
000500$500 FRN 1918 Fr.1132d Marshall-JohnJohn Marshall
(Charles Schlecht)[34]
de Soto discovering the Mississippi (rev)
(Frederick Girsch)[32]
000500$500 GC 1863 Fr.1166d
Proof
zEagle-shieldEagle with shield or E Pluribus Unum
(Charles Skinner)[35]
Unknown[36]
000500$500 GC 1870–75 Fr.1166i Lincoln-AbrahamAbraham Lincoln
(Charles Burt)[21]
Unique[36]
000500$500 GC 1882–1922 Fr.1216a Lincoln-AbrahamAbraham Lincoln
(Charles Burt)[21]
000500$500 FRN 1928–34 Fr.2200g McKinley-WilliamWilliam McKinley
(John Eissler)[37]
000500$500 GC 1928 Fr.2407 McKinley-WilliamWilliam McKinley
(John Eissler)[37]
001000$1,000 LT 1862–63 Fr.186e Morris-RobertRobert Morris
(Charles Schlecht)[34]
Unique (variety)
5 known (type)[38]
001000$1,000 LT 1869 Fr.186f
Proof
Clinton-DeWittDeWitt Clinton 2 known[39]
001000$1,000 LT 1878 Fr.187a Clinton-DeWittDeWitt Clinton
Columbus in his study
(Henry Gugler)[40]
001000$1,000 LT 1880 Fr.187k Clinton-DeWittDeWitt Clinton
Columbus in his study
(Henry Gugler)[40]
4 known (variety)
~20–25 known (type)[nb 16]
001000$1,000 IBN 1863 Fr.201
Proof
zJustice-LibertyJustice (left); Liberty (right) Unknown[41]
001000$1,000 IBN 1863 Fr.206
Proof
zShipsGuerriere and the Constitution (left) and Discovery of the Mississippi by De Soto (right) Unknown[42]
001000$1,000 SC 1878 Fr.346a
Proof
Marcy-WilliamWilliam Marcy
(Charles Schlecht)[34]
Unknown[43]
001000$1,000 SC 1880 Fr.346d Marcy-WilliamWilliam Marcy
(Charles Schlecht)[34]
5 known (variety)
5 known (type)[43]
001000$1,000 SC 1891 Fr.346e Marcy-WilliamWilliam Marcy
(Charles Schlecht)[34]
Liberty
(Charles Burt)[44]
2 known[43]
001000$1,000 TN 1890 Fr.379a Meade-GeorgeGeorge Meade
(Charles Burt)[21]
5 known (variety)
7 known (type)[45]
001000$1,000 TN 1891 Fr.379c Meade-GeorgeGeorge Meade
(Charles Burt)[21]
2 known (variety)
3 known (type)[45]
001000$1,000 NBN 1865–75 Fr.465
Proof
zScott-Winfield-Washington-GeorgeScott entering City of Mexico (left)
(Alfred Jones)[46]
United States Capitol (right)
(James Smillie)[27]
Washington resigning his commission (rev)
(Frederick Girsch)[32]
Unknown[47]
001000$1,000 FRN 1918 Fr.1133d Hamilton-AlexanderAlexander Hamilton
(G.F.C. Smillie)[48]
Eagle (rev)
(Marcus W. Baldwin)[49]
001000$1,000 GC 1863 Fr.1166e
Proof
zEagle-shield-Justice-scalesEagle with shield or E Pluribus Unum
(Charles Skinner)[35]
Justice with scales
Unique[36]
001000$1,000 GC 1870–75 Fr.1166o
Proof
Hamilton-AlexanderAlexander Hamilton
(Charles Burt)[50]
Unique[36]
001000$1,000 GC 1882 Fr.1218g Hamilton-AlexanderAlexander Hamilton
(G.F.C. Smillie)[48]
001000$1,000 GC 1907–22 Fr.1219 Hamilton-AlexanderAlexander Hamilton
001000$1,000 FRN 1928–34 Fr.2210g Cleveland-GroverGrover Cleveland
(John Eissler)[37]
001000$1,000 GC 1928 Fr.2408 Cleveland-GroverGrover Cleveland
(John Eissler)[37]
001000$1,000 GC 1934 Fr.2409 Cleveland-GroverGrover Cleveland
(John Eissler)[37]
005000$5,000 LT 1878 Fr.188
Proof
Madison-JamesJames Madison
(Alfred Sealey)[51]
Eagle
(William Chorlton)[52]
All notes have been redeemed, none outstanding[16]
005000$5,000 IBN 1863 Fr.202
Proof
zAltar-of-LibertyThe Altar of Liberty
(Louis Delnoce)[53]
Unknown[41]
005000$5,000 IBN 1865 Fr.212h
Proof
zJustice-New IronsidesJustice (left)
New Ironsides (center)
(James Smillie)[27]
005000$5,000 FRN 1918 Fr.1134d Madison-JamesJames Madison
(Alfred Sealey)[54]
Washington resigning his commission (rev)
(Louis Delnoce)[53]
Unique (variety)
5 known (type)[nb 17]
005000$5,000 GC 1863 Fr.1166f
Proof
zEagle-Shield-FemaleEagle with shield or E Pluribus Unum
(Charles Skinner)[35]
Female
Unique[36]
005000$5,000 GC 1870–75 Fr.1166k
Proof
Madison-JamesJames Madison
(Alfred Sealey)[50]
Unknown[36]
005000$5,000 GC 1882 Fr.1221a
Proof
Madison-JamesJames Madison
(Alfred Sealey)[56]
Two known[36]
005000$5,000 FRN 1928–34 Fr.2220g Madison-JamesJames Madison
(Alfred Sealey)[56]
005000$5,000 GC 1928 Fr.2410 Madison-JamesJames Madison
010000$10,000 LT 1878 Fr.189
Proof
Jackson-AndrewAndrew Jackson
(Alfred Sealey)[57]
All notes have been redeemed, none outstanding[16]
010000$10,000 FRN 1918 Fr.1135d Chase-SalmonSalmon Chase; Embarkation of the Pilgrims (rev) Unique (variety)
5 known (type)[nb 18]
010000$10,000 GC 1863 Fr.1166g
Proof
zEagle-ShieldEagle with shield or E Pluribus Unum
(Charles Skinner)[35]
Unknown[36]
010000$10,000 GC 1870–75 Fr.1166l
Proof
Jackson-AndrewAndrew Jackson Unique[36]
010000$10,000 GC 1882 Fr.1223a
Proof
Jackson-AndrewAndrew Jackson
(Alfred Sealey)[56]
Two known[36]
010000$10,000 GC 1900 Fr.1225 Jackson-AndrewAndrew Jackson
(Alfred Sealey)[56]
010000$10,000 FRN 1928–34 Fr.2230b Chase-SalmonSalmon P. Chase
010000$10,000 GC 1928 Fr.2411 Chase-SalmonSalmon P. Chase
010000$10,000 GC 1934 Fr.2412 Chase-SalmonSalmon P. Chase
100000$100,000 GC 1934 Fr.2413 Wilson-WoodrowWoodrow Wilson
(G.F.C. Smillie)[48]
Reverse
(Frederick Pauling)[58]
Was never in circulation, therefore cannot legally be held

See also

References

Explanatory footnotes

  1. One hundred $10,000 bills were on display for many years by Benny Binion at Binion's Horseshoe casino in Las Vegas, Nevada, where they were encased in acrylic. The display has since been dismantled and the bills sold to private collectors.
  2. The following types of United States banknotes were not issued in high denominations and are not included in the list below: Demand notes, Federal Reserve bank notes (large or small size), legal tender (small size), silver certificates (small size), National Bank Notes (small size)[14] The table sections are sorted by their appearance in the Friedberg reference book.
  3. Large size notes represent the earlier types or series of U.S. banknotes. Their "average" dimension is 7+38 × 3+18 inches (187 × 79 mm). Small size notes (described as such due to their size relative to the earlier large size notes) are an "average" 6+18 × 2+58 (156 × 67 mm), the size of modern U.S. currency. "Each measurement is ± 0.08 inches (2 mm) to account for margins and cutting".[15] Exceptions to the large versus small categories are the CITN, IBN, and RC, all slightly larger than the large size note dimensions.
  4. All Series 1878 $5,000 and $10,000 notes have been redeemed.[16]
  5. Issued HD IBNs are virtually unknown. There may be one $500 and 2–3 $1,000 known from all issue dates.[17]
  6. A $500 Series 1891 Treasury Note was authorized and a certified proof was prepared, but the note was never issued.[18]
  7. Three banks issued $500 NBGN. None are reported, only four notes have not been redeemed.
  8. The Kidder National Gold Bank of Boston received two-note $500–$1,000 sheets from the Treasury. The bank returned the shipment intact.
  9. No issued notes or proofs exist of either $500 or $1,000 NGBN
  10. Despite the authorizing act date of 3 March 1863, Gold certificates were not issued until 1865.[19]
  11. Series 1934 Gold certificates were never intended for public circulation.
  12. The table is sorted by denomination and then by Friedberg number.
  13. When the information is available, the engraver's name has been added in parentheses. Column sorting is based on the individual depicted in the portrait.
  14. Variety is the Friedberg number, or specific combination of signatures and seal type; type represents all the varieties that exist for a given denomination and design, it is the total number of note known for the entire design type.
  15. Of the 5 known notes, 4 are in institutional collections.[25]
  16. Of the 4 known notes, 2 are in institutional collections.[25]
  17. None exist outside of institutional collections.[55]
  18. None exist outside of institutional collections.[55]

Citations

  1. Friedberg & Friedberg, 2013, pp. 232–35.
  2. Friedberg & Friedberg, 2013, p. 22.
  3. Newman, 2008, p. 326.
  4. Newman, 2008, p. 454.
  5. Newman, 2008, p. 455.
  6. Friedberg & Friedberg, 2013, p. 32.
  7. Fricke, 2014, p. 122 & 124.
  8. United States Congress. Act of July, 17 1861 Chapter V. Washington D.C.: 1861
  9. "CHAPTER 3000: CUSTODY OF GOLD CERTIFICATES, SERIES OF 1934". US Treasury. Retrieved October 21, 2018.
  10. "Large denominations". Bureau of Engraving and Printing/Treasury Website. Archived from the original on June 25, 2014. Retrieved June 20, 2014. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  11. Joanne C. Dauer; Edward A. Dauer (2002). American History as Seen Through Currency: A Pictorial History of United States Currency as Seen Throughout Important Historical Events. Heritage Capital Corporation. p. 51. ISBN 9780972846608.
  12. Palmer, Brian (July 24, 2009). "Somebody Call Officer Crumb!: How much cash can a corrupt politician cram into a cereal box?". Slate. Retrieved July 24, 2012. As to "cereal boxes" as a repository for ill-gotten bribes compare "Little Tin Box" in the musical Fiorello!.
  13. our Treasury – FAQs: Denominations of Currency.
  14. Friedberg & Friedberg, 2013, generally.
  15. Friedberg, p. 7.
  16. Friedberg & Friedberg, 2013, p. 58.
  17. Friedberg & Friedberg, 2013, p. 72.
  18. Friedberg & Friedberg, 2013, p. 91.
  19. Friedberg & Friedberg, 2013, p. 164.
  20. Friedberg & Friedberg, 2013, p. 54.
  21. Hessler, 1993, pp. 71–73.
  22. Hessler, 2004, p. 36.
  23. Friedberg & Friedberg, 2013, p. 55.
  24. Hessler, 2004, p. 38.
  25. "Heritage Auctions (#3521) 2013 January 9–14 FUN Signature Auction". HA.com. Retrieved June 24, 2014.
  26. Hessler, 1993, p. 38.
  27. Hessler, 1993, p. 286.
  28. Friedberg & Friedberg, 2013, p. 61.
  29. Friedberg & Friedberg, 2013, p. 89.
  30. Friedberg & Friedberg, 2013, p. 97.
  31. Hessler, 1993, p. 290.
  32. Hessler, 1993, p. 137.
  33. Friedberg & Friedberg, 2013, p. 109.
  34. Hessler, 1993, p. 265.
  35. Hessler, 2004, p. 216.
  36. Friedberg & Friedberg, 2013, p. 165.
  37. Hessler, 1993, p. 114.
  38. Friedberg & Friedberg, 2013, p. 56.
  39. Friedberg & Friedberg, 2013, p. 57.
  40. Hessler, 1993, p. 145.
  41. Friedberg & Friedberg, 2013, p. 64.
  42. Friedberg & Friedberg, 2013, p. 66.
  43. Friedberg & Friedberg, 2013, pp. 89–90.
  44. Hessler, 2004, p. 95.
  45. Friedberg & Friedberg, 2013, p. 98.
  46. Hessler, 1993, p. 180.
  47. Friedberg & Friedberg, 2013, p. 110.
  48. Hessler, 1993, p. 280.
  49. Hessler, 1993, p. 40.
  50. Hessler, 2004, p. 219.
  51. Hessler, 2004, p. 39
  52. Hessler, 1993, p. 83.
  53. Hessler, 1993, p. 99.
  54. Hessler, 2004, p. 200.
  55. Friedberg & Friedberg, 2013, p. 159.
  56. Hessler, 2004, p. 223.
  57. Hessler, 2004, p. 39.
  58. Hessler, 1993, p. 237.

General bibliography

  • Fricke, Pierre (2014). Collecting Confederate Paper Money. Pierre Fricke. ISBN 978-0-9844534-9-8.
  • Friedberg, Arthur L.; Friedberg, Ira S. (2013). Paper Money of the United States: A Complete Illustrated Guide With Valuations (20th ed.). Coin & Currency Institute. ISBN 978-0-87184-520-7. Retrieved February 14, 2014.
  • Hessler, Gene (1993). The Engraver's Line – An Encyclopedia of Paper Money & Postage Stamp Art. BNR Press. ISBN 0-931960-36-3.
  • Hessler, Gene (2004). U.S. Essay, Proof and Specimen Notes (2 ed.). BNR Press. ISBN 0-931960-62-2.
  • Huntoon, Peter W. (1995). United States Large Size National Bank Notes. Society of Paper Money Collectors, Inc. ISBN 0-9648774-1-4.
  • Newman, Eric P. (2008). The Early Paper Money of America (5 ed.). Krause Publications. ISBN 978-0-89689-326-9.
  • Schwartz, John; Lindquist, Scott (2011). Standard Guide to Small-Size U.S. Paper Money – 1928 to Date. Krause Publications. ISBN 978-1-4402-1703-6. Retrieved February 14, 2014.
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