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The monetary system of the United States has gone through many changes over the years, especially when it comes to paper money. These banknote changes are not made without reason, but rather respond to certain key market needs. One of them is to overcome the sophisticated methods of counterfeiting that are used in organized crime, by thieves and by those groups that are dedicated to laundering dollars. The $1,000 bill is not exempt from those changes.
Of course, there are other reasons behind these changes, such as the lack of demand from citizens or from the countries of the world that use dollars interchangeably and the increase in the costs of issuing paper money. Due to these changes, history is full of different denominations of paper money, some of which have practically become the protagonists of a myth. An example? The 1000 dollar bill.
If you have been left with your mouth open because you thought that this ticket never really existed, we understand you! However, the truth is that the United States Treasury did print the $1,000 bill, but stopped its issuance many years ago. Oddly enough, this does not mean that the $1,000 bill has lost its value.
Table of Content
- Does the $1,000 bill exist?
- The history of the $1,000 bill
- Who appears on the $1,000 bill?
- The million dollar question: how much is a $1,000 bill worth?
- Why are $1,000 bills no longer used?
- In conclusion, the 1,000 bill did exist!
Does the $1,000 bill exist?
Yes. Believe it or not, the US$1,000 bill is real and is still considered legal tender, although no one will dare to use it for its real market value. However, the chances of you bumping into one are very slim, at least if it happens accidentally.
To give you an idea, in 2009, there were only about 165,000 $1,000 bills on the market. Where are they? Well, most of them are in museums or in the hands of numismatic collectors.
The history of the $1,000 bill
The United States government issued the first $1,000 bill in 1861. In that same year, this banknote was included among the first of the Confederate States of America. For that period, Montgomery was the capital of the Confederacy.
Although this format was destined to be extremely valuable (a thousand dollars was a lot of money at the time), war broke out. Result? The paper money issued by the Confederacy almost completely lost its value.
In fact, after the Civil War, many people destroyed and burned all these bills as they were worthless. Of course, not all the copies were lost: some families kept their $1,000 bills as a collector’s item or as a souvenir. This is precisely why there are so few $1,000 bills today.
As a curious fact, you should know that the first 1,000 dollar bills were printed to help the State finance the revolutionary war. At least that’s what Matthew Batman, one of the assistant curators of the American Numismatic Society, said. (This is an organization that studies the coins and bills of the United States )
The $1,000 bills were issued by the Continental Congress representing the 13 colonies. At that time, these $1,000 bills were used only in real estate deals due to their high value and also to facilitate the transfer of money from one bank to another. In the year 1928, paper money was reformed to issue it in a more compact size (the current size).
Because of this, the printing of $1,000 bills increased. In fact, millions of these notes were printed.
Who appears on the $1,000 bill?
There are actually two people stamped on the $1,000 bill: Alexander Hamilton and President Grover Cleveland. No, this is not a shared portrait. There are two characters on these bills because there are two different $1,000 formats. Let’s get to know a little about them!
The $1,000 Bill, Series 1918, Blue Seal Bill
The first $1,000 bill was printed and put into circulation in 1918. This is the format that has Alexander Hamilton’s face on the front and an eagle on the back of it.
But why was Alexander Hamilton chosen for this ticket? In addition to having a Broadway musical about his life which is not very relevant in financial matters, but it is a curious fact Alexander Hamilton was the Founding Father who is credited with the creation of the financial system of the United States.
The $1,000 bill, series 1928, Green Seal Bill
The second $1,000 bill came only ten years later, that is, in the year 1928. This was actually a paper money project in which the face of a different character was chosen to be used. Which one? That of President Grover Cleveland.
Why Grover Cleveland? Well, he was the 22nd and 24th president of the United States. Did you notice what makes it special? If you didn’t, we tell you: he is the only president who has served two non-consecutive terms, at least so far.
An important point to remember is that these notes are from the Federal Reserve, that is, they are not certified for gold or silver.
Fun fact: This statement may shock you even more, but the truth is that these are not the first $1,000 bills seen in the United States. As we said earlier, during the Civil War, Confederate currency also included a $1,000 bill. Since they are not domestic bills, the US Treasury does not consider this format legal tender.
The million dollar question: how much is a $1,000 bill worth?
Are you interested in buying a $1,000 bill? From the outset we tell you that it will not be easy. Finding a $1,000 bill for sale is pretty rare, at least outside of the collector’s market. Why? Because most large denominations of US currency fall into the category of uncirculated paper money.
Even if you find one at a garage sale, know that a $1,000 bill is worth much more than its face value indicates. Due to its rarity, one can usually be purchased for over $20,000.
This means that if you know an elderly person with stacks of old bills stashed in the attic, you might want to help them go through each one. You may find an extremely rare bill, like this one! If they do, they could be sitting on a gold mine.
As with all collectibles, the value of a $1,000 bill will also depend on its current condition. The more preserved it is, the higher its market price will be. To help you determine the price ranges that you might find out there, we have decided to discuss here the categories that are used in the market for buying and selling paper money:
- Very Fine: This grade is usually given to bills that have been in circulation for a long time, but still have their stamping relatively sharp. They may have some stains and creases.
- Extremely fine: That is, those banknotes that have circulated, but for less time than the previous ones. This bill will show the sharpness of the original and will be as bright as one you see around today. It will not have stains or discoloration, but it may show traces of some creases.
- Uncirculated MS 63: Highest rating and most expensive for collectors. These are banknotes that were not in circulation even once. They are practically new. They have no discolorations, watermarks, stains or creases.
Why are $1,000 bills no longer used?
Although still legal tender, high-denomination bills—like our $1,000 hero—went out of print in 1945. Then, in 1969, the Federal Reserve Bank officially discontinued them for “lack of use.”
Originally, the purpose of these high-denomination bills was to help banks and the federal government make large transactions. With the introduction of the electronic money management system, the use of high denomination paper money along with large bills disappeared. They are no longer needed.
With major counterfeiters out there—and with the looming possibility that criminal organizations could take advantage of this high-value format it’s highly unlikely that the Fed would consider printing them again. Another reason the $1,000 bill was discontinued is that it was not very profitable to produce. In fact, it was cheaper to print a bunch of $1 bills than a $1,000 bill.
It is understandable that denominations as high as these no longer exist. Let’s remember that in the 21st century, no one uses too much paper money anymore. After all, it is much safer and easier to carry a credit or debit card than a pile of bills in your pocket.
In conclusion, the 1,000 bill did exist!
To sum up:
- Yes, there is a $1,000 bill and it is technically considered legal tender, even though it is not.
- The $1,000 bill is worth much more than that. In fact, its average market price is $20,000 per unit.
- The faces of Alexander Hamilton and Grover Cleveland adorn the two series of US$1,000 bills.
- Their original purpose was to facilitate large transactions between banks and US government institutions. Many of these notes were used to transfer large sums of money from bank to bank or to purchase real estate.
Did you know that the $1,000 bill is not alone? There was also a $500 bill, a $5,000 bill, a $10,000 bill, and even a $100,000 bill.