Got change for a $100,000 bill?
My friend showed me a $100,000 U.S. bill. Is it still legal tender? How do I check its authenticity?
-- Mario Moola
According to the "fun facts" on the Bureau of Engraving's
"The largest note ever printed
by the Bureau of Engraving and Printing was the $100,000 Gold Certificate, Series
1934. These notes were printed from Dec. 18, 1934 through Jan. 9, 1935 and were
issued by the Treasurer of the United States to Federal Reserve Banks only
against an equal amount of gold bullion held by the Treasury. These notes were
used for transactions between Federal Reserve Banks and were not circulated among
the general public."
A link on the Federal
of San Francisco Web site shows the front and reverse of the $100,000 note.
|The $100,000 note
Here's what Claudia Dickens, a media representative
at the Bureau of Engraving and Printing, told me about the note:
"The Bureau of Engraving and Printing does
not, nor has it ever, put these $100,000 notes into circulation. To
my knowledge all 42,000 of these notes are accounted for. There
are $100,000 notes in numismatic collections and Federal Reserve
Bank Museums around the country for display purposes;
the Bureau of Engraving and Printing has a Billion Dollar Display
that we carry to some numismatic shows and conferences and that,
too, has some $100,000 notes in it, all of which have been canceled
and are labeled 'specimens.' If your reader's friend possesses
one I can only advise that he or she should have it authenticated
by either the Federal Reserve System or he or she can send it
to this agency for review.
The Bureau's address is:
Bureau of Engraving and Printing
Office of Currency Standards
P.O. Box 37048
"If sent to the bureau, it should be sent by
'Registered Mail, Return Receipt Requested.'
"Until the bill
is submitted for authentication, that is all of the information this agency can
provide. We are not a law enforcement agency; however, the bills were printed
exclusively for use by the Federal Reserve System."
You can read into that what you wish. An independent
numismatist, Tom Chao, has posted on his Web
site: "It's illegal for a private person to own one of
these notes, and none has ever been in private hands. All 42,000
were accounted for. However, I have come across several poor quality
counterfeits. They seem to be originated from Asia. So if you happen
to have one in your possession, I can assure you that it's a fake."
As a point of interest, the $100 bill is the highest
denomination currently printed. Production of $500, $1,000, $5,000 and $10,000
bills stopped during World War II, although they were still issued until 1969. The Department of the Treasury and Federal Reserve system announced July 14, 1969, that bills larger than $100 would be "discontnued immediately due to lack of use."
These notes, however, are
legal tender and may still be found in circulation today. Any coming into
the banking system would be removed from circulation but are freely held and traded
To ask a question of Dr. Don, go to the "Ask
the Experts" page, and select one of these topics: "financing
a home," "saving & investing" or "money."