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1000 dollar bills Why are they so expensive and interesting?

The US $1,000 bills have a spectacular history, and even more outrageous prices. Here’s everything you need to know about them.

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Billetes de 1000 dólares americanos

Can you imagine that you are selling something expensive, anything, and someone comes to pay you with a $1000 bill? Would you accept it…? I would gladly take it, and if you decide to reject it, you would probably be making a big mistake.

In this article I will tell you everything I have researched about thousand dollar bills.

We will do a brief review of the history of these bills, how much they are worth today and why it is a good decision to keep it if you have it.

This is the first article I’ve written about banknotes, as all the previous ones were about collectible U.S. coins. In a sense this is an experiment to see if it likes and works for me to write about old banknotes as well. So, if you like the article let me know in the comments so I can write others like it.

Do $1,000 U.S. dollar bills exist?

The short answer is: Yes, they do exist, but you are unlikely to ever hold one in your hands.

No bills of this denomination are currently printed, but they were produced at different times in U.S. history. They are currently part of the group known as high denomination bills, along with the $500, $5,000, $10,000 and $100,000.

The few known specimens of $1,000 bills are all in the hands of collectors, as they are rare and historically significant bills. There are some 165,372 known $1,000 bills, but no one can say for sure that they are the only ones.

It is possible that, in the basement of your grandfather’s house, in an old trunk, there are such bills waiting to be found. Although, to be honest, it is unlikely that something like that will happen, knowing the history of the thousand dollar bills.

History of the thousand dollar bills

The first of these $1,000 bills were printed by the Continental Congress in 1775 and through 1779, to finance the Revolutionary War. This was even before the United States was an independent country.

We would agree that, in the 18th century, a thousand dollars was an exorbitant amount of money. However, the bills soon lost value as they were not backed by gold, a common and recommended practice for the time. By the end of the period the bills were worth much less than their face value.

Then the printing of thousand bills was resumed in 1862, in the context of the Civil War. The bills were used to finance armaments and troops, and it is important to note that both sides had their respective versions of the $1,000 bill. A few examples of this series are currently known, which are auctioned for over $800,000 dollars.

Billete de 1000 dólares de 1863
1,000 dollar bill from 1863

Later, during the 20th century, $1,000 bills were issued in 1907 and 1922. However, the best known series are those of 1918 and 1934. In fact, many articles on the internet say that the bills of this demonization began to be printed in 1918, but as we have seen in the article this is incorrect.

As an interesting detail, the 1918 banknotes were smaller in size than the previous series. This same year also saw the printing of very valuable 2 dollar bills.

Billete de 1000 dolares de 1918
1,000 dollar bill from 1918

The purpose of high denomination bills, such as this one, was to make transactions between banks, or large real estate type purchases. It was not common for a private individual to have one, although they were authorized for free circulation.

If you are wondering what the value of 1000 dollar bills is today, keep reading, because later on I will share the information with luxuries and details.

Let’s talk now about the 1934 thousand dollar bills; as it is known, although this design was actually printed since 1928.

Billete de 1000 dólares de 1934
1,000 dollar bill from 1934

The Federal Reserve printed three series of $1,000 bills in 1934:

  • The 1934 series of $1,000 bills.
  • The 1934-A series of $1,000 bills.
  • The 1934-C series of thousand dollar bills.

All series have very similar, almost identical designs. There are no known specimens of the C series. So, that leaves the 1934A series as the last run of $1,000 bills produced by the Federal Reserve.

Technically, these bills are still legal tender in the United States, but hardly anyone would dare to pay with them when their value is much higher than face value.

Which president appears on the US $1,000 bill?

It is a tradition that U.S. banknotes are stamped with representations of different presidents of their country. The $1,000 dollar bills are no exception, however, depending on the year and the design, the selected character changes.

The pre-20th century series of $1,000 bills had many characters from the economic and political life of the United States printed on them. Just to mention a few: Salmon Portland Chase (Secretary of the Treasury), Robert Morris (financier), DeWitt Clinton (senator), William L. Marcy (senator), George Meades (military) and Alexander Hamilton (1st Secretary of the Treasury).

Alexander Hamilton is credited with the creation of the U.S. monetary system, as he was the 1st Secretary of the Treasury under George Washington. It is logical then that he was selected to stamp his face on the 1907 and 1918 $1,000 series.

He was replaced in 1928 by Grover Cleveland, twice President of the United States. Grover is said to have been the most popular president in office between Lincoln and Theodore Roosevelt.

NOTE: Grover Cleveland is also the motif on a 2012 $1 coin from the Presidential Dollars series.

President Grover Cleveland remained the figurehead of the $1,000 bill even in the 1934 series. The only one that is still legal tender in the United States, even though these bills are no longer printed.

How much is a $1,000 bill worth today?

Most of my readers love this part. It’s normal, we are all big money lovers… for collecting of course.

So what are $1,000 bills worth today?

First of all, some bills, the ones that still maintain their legal tender status, have a minimum value of $1,000 US dollars.

That is, you could pay with them perfectly well and demand change for this sum. Of course, it would be foolish to do something like that, since being rare and scarce collectibles, their real value far exceeds the number printed on the paper.

The real value of $1,000 bills ranges from 2 thousand to 2 million US dollars. Yes, that is quite a wide range. The price of each $1,000 bill depends on several factors, but two very important ones are:

  • Scarcity: The fewer are known the more exclusive the bill, and the higher its value.
  • Preservation: Well-preserved $1,000 bills fetch very high prices.

The series of $ 1,000 bills less difficult to obtain is the one from 1934. We must clarify that this year they were printed in several cities, so it is possible to find them in a better state of preservation.

In order not to bore you with an extensive table with values and cities, I will tell you that a $1,000 bill printed in Boston, in excellent condition (EF-40) can cost $2400. On the other hand, another one like it, but printed in Philadelphia and uncirculated (Unc-63) can cost 25 thousand dollars.

In the 1928 series, the prices to buy a $1,000 bill go up quite a bit. To buy a bill of this denomination printed in Chicago, in excellent condition (EF-40), you would have to pay $60,000.

In the 1918 series the prices remain in this range, but when we move on to the 19th century banknotes things get more serious.

Billete de 1000 dólares de 1882
1,000 dollar bill from 1882

A $1,000 bill from 1882, graded extremely rare (that is, few examples are known) was auctioned at Heritage for $881,250.00. On the other hand, another bill, but from 1880, was auctioned at Stack’s Bowers for $1 million.

Billete de 1000 dolares de 1890
1,000 dollar bill from 1890

The most expensive $1,000 bill specimen is a unique, 1890s piece that was purchased for $2.4 million in 2018, at a Stack’s Bowers auction.

Would you like to have a $1,000 bill in your collection?

Most collectors of antique banknotes, I would say yes you would like to have a $1,000 bill in your collection. Myself, truth be told, I don’t think I would like to have a liability of this caliber in my care.

It is indisputable that thousand dollar bills are witnesses to the history of the United States, and also pieces with a lot of cultural and collectible value.

If you liked the article, leave me a comment, so I can continue writing about other bills such as the 500 dollar bill, or the 10,000 dollar bill. So far I have only written about coins, but I also love to research and write about note collecting and collectible banknotes.

Kossi Adzo is the editor and author of Startup.info. He is software engineer. Innovation, Businesses and companies are his passion. He filled several patents in IT & Communication technologies. He manages the technical operations at Startup.info.

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