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Rare US Paper Currency Worth Big Money – What’s in your wallet?

Posted by mandyf on August 15, 2011

Is the money in your wallet worth more than you think it is? The odds are it is actually worth less than the printed face value but you can never be sure. People are watching their money more closely with the economy so beaten down. A silver quarter worth .75 cents you found on the sidewalk is nice. A $5 silver certificate that somehow got spent on gas that you got in change is a score. Are there bigger scores? Is it possible you’re walking around with big money in your pocket – and don’t even know it?

Big Pimpin' - try breaking this at the BK lounge!

With so much paper currency floating around most people assume they have seen it all. In fact many people think of the $2 bill as a rarity when in fact it is actually pretty common and easy to come by at any bank. The fact is there are bills out there that are far rarer than most people think, and even if they are no longer printed in some cases, most are still legal tender and to a limited degree still in the hands of the public. What follows is a quick guide to some rarely seen American paper currency that many people may not even know ever really existed.

For starters there is a $500 bill featuring President William McKinley, and if you think spending a $100 bill at some stores is a pain, you don’t know true misery until you try dropping one of these on a cashier. Actually you would be a bit of a fool to try that. The $500 bill was last printed in 1934 (First printing in 1928) and are getting extremely difficult to find. Even if you did have a $500 bill spending it would actually cost you money as an example in excellent condition or better can easily sell for over $1,250 to a collector, and upward of $1,750 in near mint specimens and those in mint condition fetching thousands!

The $1,000 bill featuring President Grover Cleveland also went into circulation in 1928, however they were printed until 1946 actually making them far more common that the $500 bill. Even after the bill was discontinued and no more were printed, this was still legal tender for public use until 1969 when the Department of the Treasury began calling them all in from the banks and destroying them. Because they were recalled from the banks, the only ones that survived are those that were in the hands of private citizens. As such these have become hot collectibles with those in excellent condition selling far beyond their printed face value.

Bet it all on black!

The $5,000 bill featuring a portrait of President James Madison went into press and circulation in 1934 and remained legal tender for public use until 1969. Like the $1,000 bill, these were recalled from the banks and destroyed by the treasury. For collectors this is nearly akin to the Holy Grail as it is believed that less than 500 still exist, a fair portion of them are held by the treasury for historical purposes, and a few dozen in museums for the same reason.

The $10,000 bill featuring a portrait of Treasury Secretary Chase is the Holy grail of American paper currency- to a degree. This is the largest bill the treasury ever printed for general circulation which began in 1934. Like the other large denomination bills it was recalled from the banks in 1969 and destroyed with the exception of a few examples for historical purposes. Some are still available to collectors, however the price tag is pretty out of control depending on the quality of the bill as one could imagine.

work of the United States government

one of the hardest pieces of US currency to find

The Grandaddy of them all

There was a $100,000 bill featuring president Woodrow Wilson that was pressed in 1934, but it was never circulated to the public, and technically speaking it isn’t a dollar bill, but rather a gold certificate. For those who are not familiar with gold certificates they are notes the government prints that they alone can claim ownership of. The reason these were made was for government financial transactions, primarily transfers. All told 42,000 of these were printed, but the odds are that outside of a photo you will never see one unless you visit one of the few museums granted one for display.

The question many people have is why the Treasury Department stopped printing large bills. The official answer is that during World War II technology improved enough that these bills were not needed anymore as they were primarily used for bank transfers, not really by the general public. Not too many people had the ability to possess or need $5,000 or even $10,000 dollar bill seventy years ago.

The second question is why were they removed from circulation? Theories on this differ, but it is believed it is in actuality a little bit of three different factors. The first factor was that currency wears down over the years and 25 years or more is a long time for anything to circulate. The second is that by 1969 the rise of drug trafficking had begun to really take hold and large bills floating around made it very easy to handle large private transactions. The final factor was counterfeiters were getting better and to lessen the potential impact of that practice, removing the large denomination bills was the way to go.

The final question many people have is if they find one of these bills, can they still be spent? The answer is yes they can. The problem would be finding someone to accept them, in order to get the face value you would need to turn them in to an FDIC bank and fill out some paperwork in most cases. The second thing is that given so few of these are still in circulation and unaccounted for it is far wiser to offer them for sale to a collector after having them authenticated.

http://www.ustreas.gov/education/faq/currency/denomi nations.shtml
http://www.intcurrency.com/results.cfm?catID=53&subcatID=92 $1k
http://purpleslinky.com/offbeat/500-to-1000-to-10000 -and-beyond-the-biggest-dollar-bills-in-united-state s-history/

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3 Responses to “Rare US Paper Currency Worth Big Money – What’s in your wallet?”

  1. […] just 50 cents and under. (If you would like to know about the currency from $500 and up, a post on rare paper currency of the larger denominations is on […]

  2. Great!

  3. mandyf said

    Thank you very much!

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