Why The U.S. Government Once Printed A $100,000 Bill

The $100,000 was never publicly circulated, and as such was never officially considered currency. The bills were instead intended to transfer funds between different Federal Reserve Banks. The $100,000 Gold Certificate, Series 1934 notes (as they’re more officially referred to) were only printed during the Great Depression from December 1934 through January 1935. Interestingly, they were only issued by the Treasurer of the U.S. against an equal amount of gold bullion held by the Treasury at the time. This means that, rather than normal banknotes, these functioned as gold certificates instead. Like with the $500, $1,000, $5,000, and $10,000 bills, these were ultimately discontinued in 1969.


The fact these bills were only ever intended for Federal Reserve Banks means that it is actually illegal for collectors to have one of these bills today. With that in mind, there are certain museums that have and display these bills, along with branches of the Federal Reserve System. President Woodrow Wilson appears on the note, alongside a large gold seal. If you’re wondering why President Wilson was given the honor of appearing on the largest banknote ever printed by the Bureau of Engraving and Printing, it is largely due to the fact that he signed the Federal Reserve Act into law. This law is what actually created “The Fed” as we call it today, making Wilson’s contribution to Federal Reserve Banks fairly obvious and his placement on these Fed exclusive notes extremely fitting.