6 Well-Known Discontinued and Rare U.S. Currency Denominations

6 Popular Discontinued and Rare U.S. Currency Denomination

A totally cashless society seems safe and easy, and even though we have made big steps, we are not really at the finish line. Even with the convenience of PayPal, Square, credit cards, and mobile wallets, there are those who have to have with themselves real paper money.

Although we can select from a robust variety of singles, fins, sawbucks, Jacksons, fifties, and Benjamins, there are also currency denominations than the Treasury has ceased to make — or they are simply rare. Here are the notable ones.


  • There is currently $1.2B worth of two-dollar notes in circulation.
  • A bill of $500 or $1,000 might be valued more than its face worth.
  • In 1969, there were less than four hundred $5,000 bills.
  • The $10,000 bill was the highest currency denomination ever issued for public use.
  • Collectors can not legally keep a bill of $100,000.

The two-dollar bill

These started to be printed in 1776 — 9 days before the USA became an independent country. At first, they had a portrait of Alexander Hamilton but were later revamped to represent Thomas Jefferson. Esthetically, the $2 bill is a beauty. The back side has a reproduction of one of the most famous paintings in American history— “Declaration of Independence “by John Trumbull.

Except for the decade from 1966 to 1976, the bills have been issued uninterruptedly since the Civil War. But the everyday American who doesn’t manage cash for a living will go years without seeing one. Although the $2 note is still in use and recognized as a legal tender by the Bureau of Engraving and Printing, it is considered to be the rarest denomination in the States. Around 1,3B notes were in use in 2019.

The five-hundred-dollar bill

The Treasury had many iterations of the $500 note, including a portrait on the front of President William McKinley. The last $500 bill released was in 1945 and was officially retired in 1969.

As all the bills listed in this article, the $500 bill is still a legal tender. Many of the $500 notes circulating today are in the possession of dealers and collectors. That being said, if you hold a bill of $500, you will see that its market worth goes over its face value, with even-aged specimens getting a premium of more than 40 premium on the open marketplace.

The thousand-dollar bill

Alexander Hamilton was on the frontside of the $1,000 bill. As someone finally figured out that it could be confounding to have the same former Secretary of the Treasury on different denominations, he was replaced by another president — the 22nd and the 24th, Grover Cleveland. Like the $500 bill, the $1,000 bill was discontinued in 1969. And like the $500 bill, the $1,000 bill would seem to have be more useful than it was.

Why? Inflation, naturally. The CPI was calculated at 36.8 back in 1969. As of December 2019, the CPI stood at more than 256, rendering the worth of today’s $1,000 bill as the equivalent of a comparatively modest $153 bill during t1969. The Treasury claims that keeping denominations conveniently low lowers the risk of money laundering.

That said, hold on to a thousand dollar bill. Just 165,372 of these bills with Grover’s face are still in circulation.

The five-thousand-dollar bill

The $5,000 bill was originally issued to fund the Revolutionary War and was only officially printed by the government when the Civil War began. The bill was decorated with a portrait of James Madison. President Richard Nixon ordered the recall of the bills in 1969 due to the suspicion of criminals using them for money laundering activities.

Finding a $5,000 bill today takes a lot of luck and a lot more than $5,000. Less than 400 of these notes are known to exist.

The ten-thousand-dollar bill

Salmon P. Chase could be the most experienced politician in USA history who has never been a president. Though he was Governor and Senator of Ohio, served as Secretary of the Treasury under Lincoln, and served as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, Chase is seen by the majority as the man on the $10,000 bill.

The biggest currency denomination ever issued for public use, the $10,000 bill has never been used a lot. This lack of usage is reasonable, considering that its worth surpassed the net value of the average American for much of the period the bill was circulation. The bill was initially issued in 1918 and was part of the purge of large currencies in 1969.

Just like its $5,000 counterpart, just a few hundred samples remain.

The hundred-thousand-dollar bill

With the face of Woodrow Wilson, the $100,000 bill was originally a gold certificate that had never been in circulation or authorized for public usage. Over the Great Depression, the Bureau of Engraving and Printing created them for the conduct of official trades among Federal Reserve Banks. Just 42,000 of these were printed.

While the $100,000 bill cannot be owned by collectors, some organizations such as the Museum of American Finance are displaying them for educational reasons. The Smithsonian Museum and some sectors of the Federal Reserve System still hold some hundred thousand dollar bills.