All About the Elusive $10,000 Bill and Why You Haven’t Seen One

$10,000 Dollar Bill Cover

Nowadays, if someone hands you a bill with any number higher than $100 printed on it, you’ll instantly be skeptical.

But not so long ago, high denomination bills were in public circulation.

So how high did the bills go? $500, $1,000, or maybe even $5,000?

In fact, as you’ll soon learn, it was much higher than that.

Do $10,000 Bills Really Exist?

We used to have $10,000 bills, and they’re still considered legal US tender. It was the highest denomination US bill to be in public circulation. Can you imagine walking into a Walmart and paying for a stick of gum with a $10,000 dollar note?

The chances of you stumbling upon a high denomination note like this are low. In fact, it’s been estimated that only 350 $10,000 dollar bills are still in circulation. And most of those are in the hands of museums or private collectors.

In fact, if you do have a $10,000 dollar note in your possession than the last thing you’d want to do is to use it to buy groceries. The value of the bill is much greater than $10,000 because of its rarity.

But before we talk about value, let’s learn a few things about the elusive $10,000 bill.

Who is on the $10,000 dollar bill?

The $10,000 dollar bill features the portrait of Salmon P. Chase.

Don’t know who Salmon P. Chase was? Don’t feel bad, most people don’t.

Salmon P. Chase was the Secretary of the Treasury to President Abraham Lincoln. That alone doesn’t make one worthy of adorning a $10,000 dollar bill though. Salmon Chase was in charge of the Treasury when the federal government introduced modern banknotes (greenbacks). In 1928 he was honored for the role he played, by having his face put on the shiny new $10,000 dollar bill.

There are actually two different series of $10,000 dollar bills, but both have Salmon P. Chase face on the front of it.

$10,000 Series 1918 Green Seal

This is the rarest of the $10,000 dollar bills. The backside depicts the Pilgrims as they sailed for North America. Here is a picture of the $10,000 Series 1918 bill:

Picture of a 1918 $10,000 Dollar Bill (Salmon P. Chase)

$10,000 Series 1928, 1934, 1934A & 1934B Green Seal

This bill is more common (but still very rare) than it’s 1918 counterpart. It was produced in 1928 and 1934. The backside, unlike the 1918 series, just says: “The United States of America – Ten Thousand Dollars – 10,000.” Here is a picture of the $10,000 Series 1928 bill:

Picture of a 1928/1934 $10,000 Dollar Bill (Salmon P. Chase)

What’s a $10,000 dollar bill valued at today?

Since the $10,000 dollar bill is so rare, it’s worth much more than $10,000.

However, don’t take it to a bank. You’ll receive $10,000 in return.

You want to take it to a collector. A $10,000 dollar bill in pristine (great) condition can be worth upwards of $140,000 to collectors. But even if your bill is in poor condition, it can still be worth around $30,000.

So make sure you know the value of your rare bills before taking them to a bank. There are too many stories of people finding rare, old bills and turning them in for their face value.

Why Did We Get Rid of High Denomination Bills and Currency?

If you had a $10,000 bill right now, it’s still completely legal tender. The United States government printed it, and they have to honor it.

However, it has been labeled as discontinued since 1969. The whole point of these bills was to make large-scale bank transaction easier and take less time, saving money on labor and overall bank time.

However, they were barely used, and banks didn’t see a reduction in transaction times. Since it’s far easier for someone to counterfeit US bills in our current day and age, don’t expect to see high denomination bills to enter circulation or new production anytime soon.

At a Glance

$10,000 bills are actually real, and are still honored by the United States government as legal tender. If you have a $10,000 bill in mint condition, it’s worth roughly 14x more than its actual value.

While vastly unknown to the public-at-large, Salmon P. Chase is the face of the $10,000 bill. It was intended to make banking easier, but in turn didn’t provide many benefits.

If you’re wondering what other high denomination bills are out there, there’s a $500, $1,000, $5,000, and even a $100,000 bill. To learn more about them, read our additional guides.


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