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Does Anybody Have Change for a $100,000 Bill?

Posted June 30th, 2010
by Staff

With the exception of a few business owners, most of us would never even dream of taking out a personal loan for $100,000. And there’s no way any of us would dream of carrying that much around in our wallet. Well, maybe we might dream about it, but hopefully none of us would be foolhardy enough to actually do it.

There are a number of accounts on the Internet of people claiming to have found a $100,000 bill, but are they authentic? It’s possible, though highly unlikely. The $100,000 notes, bearing the austere portrait of Woodrow Wilson, were gold certificate notes, and were originally designed only for use between financial institutions, which means they weren’t exactly bandied about, even when they were current.

The US went off the gold standard in 1933, under FDR. Gold notes were recalled and for years it was illegal to even have one. Understandable in a way, as inflation quickly caused the gold that backed the notes to be worth a lot more than the face value of the note. $100,000 in gold, circa 1933 is worth well over a million dollars today, over $1.6 million, in fact.

The $100,000 gold notes are a bit of an oddity, in that they were issued a year after the US was taken off the gold standard and other gold notes were taken out of circulation. Of course, it was never intended to land in the hands of Johnny Q. Public anyhow. They were only for government and financial institutions.

Most $100,000 notes anyone would find loose today are reproductions. It is likely that all of the genuine notes are in museums. If, however you do ever come across one of these notes, say, in Grampa’s attic, don’t fold it over in your billfold assuming it’s an interesting but worthless novelty. Have it looked at, just in case. Chances are it is only a novelty and a conversation piece, but who wants to risk more than a million dollars on skepticism?

Most of us will never see one of these notes unless we go to the Smithsonian. A few of us may see $100,000 at the same time, either as the result of a personal loan or as a result of careful savings, but chances are it’ll look more like a simple entry in a bank ledger rather than the serene yet unsmiling face of President Woodrow Wilson staring at us from the left of the number 100,000.

Photo via Dan4th

Categories: Fun

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