6 Discontinued and Uncommon U.S. Currency Denominations

A completely cashless society sounds appealing to some, and while we’ve made strides to make it possible, it’s not yet a reality. Despite the magic of PayPal, Square, credit cardand mobile walletssome of us need to carry cash.

Although we can choose from a rich array of singles, palms, sawbucks, Jacksons, $50s and Benjamins, there are several other denominations that the US Treasury ceased or which are simply rare. Here are the most notable.

Key points to remember

  • In addition to the $1, $5, $10, $20, $50, and $100 notes, there have been other American banknotes in circulation.
  • There are still 1.4 billion $2 bills in circulation.
  • Today, a $500 or $1,000 bill can be worth more than its face value.
  • The $10,000 note was the largest denomination ever printed for public consumption.
  • Collectors cannot legally hold a $100,000 note.

$2 bill

Public domain

The first $2 bills were printed in 1862. They originally featured a portrait of Alexander Hamilton but were later redesigned to depict Thomas Jefferson. Aesthetically, the $2 bill is something to behold. The reverse features a reproduction of one of the most famous paintings in American history – “Declaration of Independence” by John Trumbull.

Excluding the decade from 1966 to 1976, $2 bills have been printed continuously since the Civil War. Yet the average American who does not manage cash to live can go years without seeing one. Although the $2 note is still in circulation and the Engraving and printing office recognizes it as legal tender—it is considered the rarest monetary denomination in the United States The last series of $2 bills were printed in 2017. Today, there are approximately 1.4 billion bills in circulation.

$500 ticket

Public domain

The Treasury minted several versions of the $500 bill, featuring a portrait of President William McKinley on the front. The last $500 bill rolled off the presses in 1945, and it was officially discontinued 24 years later in 1969.

Like all notes shown here, the $500 note is legal tender. Most $500 bills in circulation today are in the hands of dealers and collectors. That being said, if you were to come into possession of a $500 bill, you would find that its market value far exceeds its face valuewith even worn specimens commanding over 40% prime on the open market.

Although no longer in circulation, the $500 note is still legal tender.

$1,000 note

Public domain

The original $1,000 note featured Alexander Hamilton on the front. When someone probably realized it could be confusing to have the same old Treasury Secretary on several denominations, the portrait of Hamilton was replaced by that of a president – the 22nd and the 24th, Grover Cleveland. Like its smaller cousin, the $500 bill, the $1,000 bill was discontinued in 1969. And like the $500 bill, the $1,000 bill seems to have a lot more use now than it did then.

Why? Inflation, sure. The Consumer price index (CPI) was estimated at 36.8 in 1969. In January 2022, the US CPI was 281.9, which means that a $1,000 bill today would be equivalent to a relatively modest $130 bill during the summer of love. Does it make sense that we have lost larger denominations as the value of a dollar got progressively smaller? The Treasury argues that keeping denominations too small minimizes the possibility of money laundering.

That being said, hold a $1,000 bill that ends up in your palm even more tightly than you would a $500 bill.

Martha Washington is the first and only woman to appear as the main portrait on US paper money. His image appeared on the $1 silver certificate beginning in 1886. It was discontinued in 1957 and was the second longest-issued paper money.

$5,000 note

Public domain

The $5,000 note was originally issued for finance the Revolutionary War and was not officially printed by the government until the outbreak of the Civil War. The bill was adorned with a portrait of James Madison. President Richard Nixon ordered the bills recalled in 1969 over fears that criminals would use them for money laundering activities.

Finding a $5,000 bill today takes courage, luck, and more than $5,000.

$10,000 note

Public domain.

Salmon P. Chase is perhaps the most accomplished politician in the history of our country to have never served as president. But even though he was governor and senator from Ohio, served as secretary of the Treasury under Abraham Lincoln, and became chief justice of the Supreme Court, most people remember Chase as the guy on the 10 bill. $000.

The largest denomination ever printed for public consumption, the $10,000 note has never seen much use. This lack of use is understandable, given that its value has exceeded the net value of the average American for most of the time the bill was available. The bill was first printed in 1918 and was part of the 1969 purge of majors currencies.Like its $5,000 counterpart, only a few hundred authenticated samples survive.

$100,000 note

Public domain

Featuring a portrait of Woodrow Wilson, the $100,000 prize Remark was actually a gold certificate which has never been distributed or published for public use. The Bureau of Engraving and Printing created them during The great Depression in 1934, to carry out official transactions between Federal Reserve banks.

While the $100,000 note cannot be legally held by collectors, some institutions like the Museum of American Finance display them for educational purposes. The Smithsonian Museum and some branches of the Federal Reserve System (FRS) also have these rare tickets in their possession.

Which US coins are no longer in circulation?

In addition to discontinued dollar notes, the U.S. Mint has also stopped producing certain coins over time because they lost value or usability. These include:

  • half-cent coins, minted 1793–1857
  • two cent pieces (1864-1872)
  • three cent pieces (1851-1889)
  • half dime (1792-1873) [later replaced by nickels]
  • twenty cent pieces (1875-1878)
  • Dollar coins:
  • Gold dollar coins (1849-1889)
  • Dollar Eisenhower (1971-1978)
  • Dollar by Susan B. Anthony (1979-1981)

Are $2 bills rare?

Although not as widely used as the $1 or $5 bills, the $2 bill remained in production until 2017. In 2020, the Federal Reserve estimated that there were approximately 1.4 billion $2 bills worth $2.8 billion.

What is the most common denomination of US currency?

In 2020, there were 16.4 billion $100 bills, making them both the most issued and most valuable bill in circulation. The second most common note is the $1 note, with 13.1 million in circulation.

The essential

Over time, the government may choose to withdraw certain funds from circulation for various reasons. Banknotes may be abandoned due to the effects of inflation eroding their face value, a lack of demand or desire for certain denominations among consumers, or being too similar in appearance or close in value other common denominations.