I was out shopping Saturday night and I heard a cashier marvel about receiving a $100 bill. Is that the largest bill in circulation?
That piqued my curiosity, and I got on my smart phone. According to the official website of the U.S. Department of the Treasury (http://www.treasury.gov/resource-center/faqs/Currency/Pages/denominations.aspx), the denominations of currency now in production are $1, $2, $5, $10, $20, $50 and $100. Of course, at one time larger denominations have been circulated. To quote the website,
“On July 14, 1969, David M. Kennedy, the 60th Secretary of the Treasury, and officials at the Federal Reserve Board announced that they would immediately stop distributing currency in denominations of $500, $1,000, $5,000 and $10,000. Production of these denominations stopped during World War II. Their main purpose was for bank transfer payments. With the arrival of more secure transfer technologies, however, they were no longer needed for that purpose. While these notes are legal tender and may still be found in circulation today, the Federal Reserve Banks remove them from circulation and destroy them as they are received.”
What is the largest denomination ever produced? There was a $100,000 Series 1934 Gold Certificate, with a portrait of President Wilson, printed from December 18, 1934 through January 9, 1935. They were issued by the Treasurer to Federal Reserve Banks only against an equal amount of gold bullion held by the Treasury Department. They were used only for official transactions between Federal Reserve Banks and were not circulated among the public, so you will never see one outside a museum.
Coincidentally, The July 6, 2015 edition of The Writer’s Almanac also had an entry about currency. On that date in 1785, the dollar was chosen as the country’s monetary unit. Specifically,
“The word “dollar” actually predates this event by more than 250 years; it’s an Anglicized form of “thaler,” a silver coin that was first minted in Bohemia in 1519. “Dollar” came to be used as a sort of generic term for any large silver coin, like the Spanish eight-real piece, also known as “pieces of eight.” There was a shortage of British currency in the American colonies, and Spanish dollars were widely circulated in their place — as were Indian wampum and certificates for tobacco held in Virginia warehouses. During the Revolutionary War, colonists printed their own paper bills, called Continentals, in a variety of denominations; some were in British pounds, others were in dollars. When we won our independence, we rejected the British units in favor of the dollar.” (http://writersalmanac.org/page/7/?elq=986f6e4e8c2b4f83846fd3b893141a54&elqCampaignId=13792&elqaid=16227&elqat=1&elqTrackId=0b6ef229c6114b9b80ac2a42904f3b1c)
Aren’t you glad someone remembers this stuff?