The highest denominated U.S. dollar is the $100,000 banknote, featuring President Woodrow Wilson, which the Bureau of Engraving and Printing printed from 1934-1935.
The $100,000 bill, however, was not released and circulated in public. Federal Reserve Banks were the only ones that used them for their internal transactions. While it can still be technically considered as a legal tender, it has not been seen since the 1960s. Nevertheless, having a face value of such amount, it is the highest denomination ever created by the United States.
The bill served as a form of gold certificate and was produced only for less than a month, from December 18, 1934, to January 9, 1935. The Treasurer of the United States issued them to Federal Reserve Banks in exchange for gold bullions of equal amounts, which are then kept by the Department of Treasury.
Since the bill was only used for private transactions between Federal Reserve banks, they were never released in the general public. No examples were placed into circulation as they were exclusively designed for transferring large sums of money between banks. Wire transfers, however, emerged in the 1960s, putting a halt on the use of the 100,000-dollar U.S.bills. Around 42,000 total examples were printed, but most were destroyed by the U.S. government.
Only a few authentic samples exist today, which are all in possession of the U.S. government. This means that having an original example of the $100,000 bill is illegal. Forged copies are common, which also comes with mock-up certificates of authenticity.
If you want to see genuine examples, they are on display at the Smithsonian Institution, Bureau of Engraving and Printing, and the Federal Reserve Banks in Richmond and San Francisco. You will even see an uncut sheet of the twelve authentic notes in some of the said locations.
The $100,000 bill is printed in a light orange hue, and the material used is a mix of 25 percent linen and 75 percent cotton. It was in a horizontal orientation, featuring a greater width than height.
Most of the elements on the obverse side of the bill are printed in black ink though, there were parts in orange to a yellow shade. The bill features Woodrow Wilson at its center. Wilson is the 28th President of the United States, who served from 1913 to 1921. Under his image is a curved ribbon, with an inscription of his surname, ‘Wilson.” Onto the left of his portrait, you’ll see the United Treasury seal. It features a chevron with thirteen stars, shield with a balance, and a key at its core. The seal is then superimposed with the words ‘Gold Certificate.’
While Fed banks had the $100,000 bill, the largest denomination ever released for public circulation is the $10,000 bill, bearing the portrait of Salmon P. Chase. If you’re wondering why they created, it is mainly to save space on wallets. However, the banknote never got much use. It’s not a surprise as its value surpassed the average net worth of Americans during the time it has been released. Like the $100,000 bill, only a few authentic examples survived.
Both bills are no longer issued by the Fed but are still considered legal tender. If you happen to have one, you can still go to Walmart and buy a new dryer or TV and hand down the bill. You will surely get attention. Plus, it is also not the most excellent option. Since these bills are rare, they are mostly kept by collectors, who then auction the bills for larger prices. For example, the $10,000 bank can rake a price of over $100,000.
If you’d like, you can also deposit it in your account through your banks. Bid goodbye to the bill, though. The amount will end up in your account, but the Fed will destroy the banknote as a part of the 1969 order to halt distributing the bills and pull them from public circulation.
- United States dollar (Wikipedia)
- Large denominations of United States currency (Wikipedia)