Trivia

Hard

Who Appeared On The Largest Denomination Of U.S. Currency?

Herbert Hoover
John F. Kennedy
Woodrow Wilson
William Howard Taft
An image of Woodrow Wilson on a $100,000 bill.
U.S. Department of Treasury

Answer: Woodrow Wilson

Although they exist only as curiosities stored in museums and Federal Reserve Banks now, at one point in American history, there was a piece of paper currency worth $100,000. The bills featured the handsome face of former U.S. president Woodrow Wilson and were printed not as the result of runaway inflation, but to serve as certificates exchanged between Federal Reserve locations.

While these gold certificates were never intended for use outside of banking institutions, they served a similar function to regular paper currency in that they made the transfer of something of value, in this case gold, much easier. Rather than transport $100,000 worth of gold to a given Federal Reserve location, the gold could be stored safely while the certificate was transferred instead.

If you’re a diehard collector looking to get your hands on this piece of history, you’re more than a bit out of luck, however. Unlike many other unique currency examples from U.S. history, all the surviving examples of the $100,000 bill have been accounted for and are in possession of the U.S. government. If you want to see one in person though, you can visit the Federal Reserve Banks in either San Francisco or Richmond, the Bureau of Engraving and Printing, or the Smithsonian Institute.

Other large denomination bills that are no longer in circulation (or used between Federal Reserve locations) include the $500 bill (featuring William McKinley, the 25th U.S. President), the $1,000 bill (featuring Grover Cleveland, the 22nd and 24th U.S. President), the $5,000 bill (featuring James Madison, the 4th U.S. President), and the $10,000 bill (featuring Salmon P. Chase, the 6th U.S. Chief Justice).

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