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Large denomination bills in U.S. currency
At one time, however, it also included five larger denominations. Shown here is a $10,000 Federal Reserve note from 1918. The high-denomination currency was prevalent from the very beginning of U.S. Government issue (1861). $500, $1,000, and $5,000 interest bearing notes were issued in 1861, and $10,000 gold certificates arrived in 1865. There are many different designs and types of high-denomination notes.
The high-denomination bills were issued in a small size in 1928, along with the $1 through $100 denominations. Their designs were as follows:
- $500 bill: featured a portrait of William McKinley
- $1,000 bill: featured a portrait of Grover Cleveland
- $5,000 bill: featured a portrait of James Madison
- $10,000 bill: featured a portrait of Salmon P. Chase
- $100,000 bill: featured a portrait of Woodrow Wilson
The reverse designs featured abstract scrollwork with ornate denomination identifiers. All were printed in green, except for the $100,000. The $100,000 is an odd bill, in that it was not generally issued, and printed only as a gold certificate of Series of 1934. These gold certificates (of denominations $100, $1,000, $10,000, and $100,000) were issued after the gold standard was repealed and gold was compulsorily purchased by presidential order of Franklin Roosevelt on March 9, 1933 (see United States Executive Order 6102), and thus were only used for intra-government transactions. They are printed in orange on the back, and are illegal to own. All known pieces are in government museums. This series was discontinued in 1940.
Printing of other high-denomination bills was discontinued in 1946, but continued to circulate until 1969, when they were officially withdrawn. The $5,000 and $10,000 effectively disappeared well before then: there are only about 200 $5,000 and 300 $10,000 bills known, of all series since 1861. Most of the $10,000 bills are due to the preservation of 100 ($1,000,000) of them by Benny Binion, the owner of Binion's Horseshoe casino in Nevada. For many years, they were displayed in a glass case in the casino. The case is no longer there, and the bills were sold to collectors.
Circulation of high-denomination bills was halted in 1969 by executive order of President Richard Nixon, who stated that he was taking this action to "make life harder for the Mafia." His comment drew irate criticism from many Americans of Italian ancestry, who regarded it as an ethnic slur.
For the most part, these bills were used by banks and the Federal Government for large financial transactions. This was especially true for gold certificates from 1865 to 1934. However, electronic transactions made it obsolete to use cash for these large transfers.
Other denominations of bills have been created by individuals as practical jokes or as genuine attempts at counterfeiting. In September 2003, an unknown individual in North Carolina used a $200 bill (with George W. Bush's likeness on it) at a Food Lion to purchase $150 in groceries. The cashier obligingly cashed the fake bill and presented the perpetrator with $50 in change. In March 2004, Alice Regina Pike attempted to use a $1,000,000 bill to purchase goods from a Wal-Mart, for which she was then arrested.
There have been many novelty $1,000,000 bills, the most famous being one issued in 1988 by the American Bank Note Company , complete with security devices. Another novelty $1,000,000 bill is a bill that features the Statue of Liberty on the front and Mount Rushmore on the back (see  and .)
A $1,000,000,000,000 (one trillion dollar) bill was used in an episode of The Simpsons. Harry Truman authorized its printing to help Europe rebuild after World War II. Mr. Burns was supposed to deliver it but kept it for himself.
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