Change worth $10,000 is already quite impressive: it’s a much larger sum than most people will have in their hands in their lifetime.
A rare $10,000 bank reserve note from 1934, however, turned out to be worth even more when it was sold at auction this month; $470,000 more, to be exact.
The Great Depression note was sold in Dallas at the Long Beach Expo U.S. Coin Auction hosted by Heritage Auctions. It features a portrait not of a president, like most of our money today, but of President Lincoln’s Secretary of the Treasury, Salmon P. Chase.
According to the Museum of American Finance, the $10,000 mark was the highest denomination ever put into public circulation in the United States, because the largest $100,000 bill that existed at one time was only used for transfers between Federal Reserve banks and was not available to consumers.
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An “absolute price”
The bill was graded by Paper Money Guaranty (PMG), a third-party organization specializing in the grading and certification of paper money, and was found to be in the best possible condition, according to a press release from Heritage Auctions . This specific example never circulated after being minted, which may explain its impeccable condition.
With so few bills still in existence, that made it an “absolute price,” said Dustin Johnston, vice president of coinage at Heritage Auctions.
“High-value notes have always attracted interest from collectors of all levels,” Johnston said in the press release. “The $10,000 is second only to the $100,000 gold certificate issued in 1934, and of the 18 examples graded by PMG, this one is tied for highest graded.”
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Today, the largest denomination of American currency is the 100 dollar bill. In the past, $500, $1,000, $5,000 and $10,000 bills were in circulation, but most people did not pay for their groceries with bills worth several thousand dollars, prompting the government to stop the production of notes over $100 in 1969.
Although the most important notes were still issued until 1969, they stopped being printed in 1945, according to the Bureau of Engraving & Printing.
While the $480,000 sale was the star of the show, other items also sold for thousands of dollars during the exhibit, including an 1899 twenty-dollar coin for $468,000 and a $5,000 for $300,000.
By the end of the weekend, the auction had raised a total of $15,545,589.