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5 High-Denomination Bills Not Being Printed

Claes Bell
Wikimedia Commons

There have been several bills printed that dwarf those wimpy $100s in your wallet.

In fact, during the recent battle in Congress over extending the debt limit, one of the solutions proposed by academics and commentators to prevent default was minting a $1 trillion platinum coin and using that to fund the government's commitments until a more permanent solution could be found.

While a $1 trillion coin would be far and away the biggest denomination of currency ever issued by the U.S., these others made Benjamins look like chump change.

1. Bill: The $500 note, 1928 and 1934 series

Front: Portrait of President William McKinley
Back: The United States of America -- Five Hundred Dollars

A portrait of President William McKinley, who was president from 1897 to 1901, graces the front of this bill. If you're lucky enough to get one of the more than 280,000 still in circulation, feel free to use it. Despite no longer being issued, bills above $100 are still legal tender, according to the Bureau of Engraving and Printing, or BEP.

2. Bill: The $1,000 note, 1934 series

Front: Portrait of President Grover Cleveland
Back: The United States of America -- One Thousand Dollars

The portrait on the front of this $1,000 bill is President Grover Cleveland, but no one says "It's all about the Clevelands" for a reason: The Treasury ceased issuing notes of more than $100 in 1969 due to nonuse, according to the BEP.

3. Bill: The $5,000 note, 1918 series

Front: Portrait of President James Madison
Back: President George Washington resigning his commission

Fourth president and "father of the Constitution" James Madison gets his time to shine on the $5,000 bill. If you're a fan of Madison or a graduate of his eponymous university and want to pick one up, you might have some trouble. Only 353 are still in circulation, according to the BEP.

4. Bill: The $10,000 note, 1918 series (blue seal)

Front: Portrait of Salmon P. Chase, secretary of the Treasury
Back: The embarkation of the pilgrims

The largest bill ever circulated among the general public by the Treasury features a portrait of Salmon P. Chase, who was the sixth chief justice of the United States, a passionate abolitionist and Treasury secretary to Abraham Lincoln. Only 346 remain in circulation today.

5. Bill: The $100,000 note, 1934 series

Front: President Woodrow Wilson
Back: The United States of America -- 100,000 -- One Hundred Thousand Dollars

The largest bill ever printed by the federal government, the $100,000 note bears the likeness of President Woodrow Wilson. Even if you have $100,000 to burn, don't expect to get your hands on one. Backed by gold bullion, these bills were issued only to Federal Reserve banks for making large transactions with one another and can't be legally held by collectors.