Big Money: Who Doesn’t Need a $10,000 Bill?

The U.S. $10,000 bill features former Secretary of the Treasury Salmon P. Chase. (Image from National Museum of American History via Wikimedia Commons)
The U.S. $10,000 bill features former Secretary of the Treasury Salmon P. Chase. (Image from National Museum of American History via Wikimedia Commons)

On this date in 1969, the United States retired all currency above $100.

Here are some things you may not have known about large denomination currency.

The first $500 bill was issued in North Carolina in 1780, followed by Virginia, which also began printing $1,000 and $2,000 bills a year later. However, the first high-denomination note issued by the U.S. federal government was a $1,000 treasury note during the War of 1812.

In 1862, the U.S. government began printing $500, $1,000, $5,000 and $10,000 bills for general use, although they remained relatively rare. The $100,000 gold certificate was printed in 1934 and was never issued to the public. It was used for transactions within the government.

The last high-denomination bills were printed in December 1945. Because of the value, they don’t circulate as much as, say, a $20 bill, so it takes much longer for them to cycle out of use. The Federal Reserve began destroying the high-value bills after an executive order by President Richard Nixon.

The introduction of the electronic money system made the large-denomination bills obsolete. Despite the fact that inflation has made $500 today less valuable than $100 in 1969, the U.S. Treasury Department says it has no intention of increasing the denominations. The smaller denominations make it more difficult to use cash in activities such as drug dealing and money laundering.

The large denomination bills remain legal tender. There are estimated to be around 300 each of 10,000 and 5,000-dollar bills in existence. There are more than 150,000 1,000-dollar bills remaining. Because of their relative rarity, collectors will pay considerably more than face value for them.

The $500 Federal Reserve Note featured President William McKinley on its face. The $1,000 featured President Grover Cleveland. The $5,000 had President James Madison. The $10,000 featured former Secretary of the Treasury and Chief Justice of the Supreme Court Salmon P. Chase. The $100,000 gold certificate featured President Woodrow Wilson.

One of those may sound like it doesn’t belong. However, Salmon Chase introduced the first modern American paper currency during his time leading the treasury. He was also featured on the first U.S. Dollar Bill.

After his time at the Treasury Department, Chase oversaw the impeachment trial of President Andrew Johnson in 1868. Chase is the namesake of the large American banking company, despite having no financial connection to the company.

Our question: Who are the only non-presidents featured on U.S. currency that is in production today?

Today is Bastille Day in France, Republic Day in Iraq and Hondurans’ Day in Honduras.

It’s unofficially Shark Awareness Day, and National Tape Measure Day.

It’s the birthday of musician Woody Guthrie, who was born in 1912; former U.S. President Gerald Ford, who was born in 1913; and actress Jane Lynch, who is 56 today.

This week in 1969, the top song in the U.S. was “In the Year 2525” by Zager & Evans.

The No. 1 movie was “Midnight Cowboy,” which, according to family legend, my great-grandparents watched thinking it was a Western.  The novel “The Love Machine” by Jacqueline Susann topped the New York Times Bestsellers list.

Weekly question (last chance!)

Which of the EGOT awards (The Emmy, Grammy, Oscar and Tony) is “Hamilton” creator Lin-Manuel Miranda missing?


Follow us on Twitter, Facebook or our website.

Also, if you’re enjoying the show, please consider supporting it through

Please rate the show on iTunes by clicking here.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.