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500 dollar bills, heirlooms worth fortunes

The 500 US dollar bill is one of those pieces that every collector of coins and banknotes wants to have. There are many reasons and today we are going to comment on a couple of them.

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billetes de 500 dólares

The 500 US dollar bill is one of those pieces that every collector of coins and banknotes wants to have. There are many reasons and today we are going to comment on a couple of them.

The first and most important, is that they were taken out of circulation in 1969, therefore, there is already production of this denomination in the United States, and the second, are the facts surrounding the bill. Everyone wants to have that part of history with them.

Today they are still considered legal tender. However, the collectible value of one of these bills is often much higher than its face value.

History of the 500 US dollar bill

The first time these bills began to circulate in the United States was in 1780, in the province of North Carolina. Later, other cities such as Virginia did the same.

As for the design of these pieces, there are not many records and those that have been found show a total change with respect to the banknotes we know today. Their appearance was similar to the stamps, but a little larger.

In contrast, the $500 bills produced by the Treasury bank in 1861 do look similar to today’s bills.

Billete de 500 dolares 1838
500 dollar bill 1838

These were essentially Treasury bills, because they were a short-term loan to the government. Most of the $500 bills printed at this time remained in the hands of the banks and were rarely used by the general public.

Large denomination bills, such as the $500 note, the $1,000 bill, the $5,000 note, and the $10,000 note, were last printed in 1945 and were withdrawn from circulation in 1969 due to lack of use.

Which presidents appear on the $500 bill?

The most common series of $500 bills (printed in 1928 and 1934) features an image of President William McKinney on the obverse. The 1882 and 1922 series bills feature a portrait of President Abraham Lincoln.

Also on the 1918 series, a portrait of Chief Justice John Marshall of the United States Supreme Court appears.

As a curiosity, the 1869 $500 bill with a portrait of U.S. President John Quincy Adams was sold for more than $2 million.

Abraham Lincoln, 1882 $500 Gold Certificate

The $500 Gold Certificates with Abraham Lincoln on the obverse is one of the most important bills. The 1882 $500 Gold Certificates were not only printed in 1882, but the government continued to print them for decades. Most major retailers and online stores have them for sale.

How much is an 1882 Abraham Lincoln $500 bill worth?

The value of this bill will depend on its condition, along with the type of stamp and signature combination. Several different combinations of stamp type, signature and serial number can be found, so it is important to have the bill properly valued before selling it. Typically, $500 Gold Certificates in the 1882 series are worth between $5,350 and $7,500 if in good condition.

Billete de 500 dólares con Abraham Lincoln
500 dollar bill with Abraham Lincoln

In very excellent condition, the value is about $21,500-23,500 . The price for $500 Gold Certificates in perfect condition is around $42,500 .

For the year 1922 the $500 Gold Certificate was reprinted and although it has some minor differences from the first issue, this one looks so similar that most people will have to check the date on the bill to determine if it is an 1882 or 1922 bill.

John Marshall, 1918 $500 Federal Reserve Note

It is considered attractive because of the unique reverse design, which depicts Spanish explorer Hernando de Soto discovering the Mississippi. In fact, the image is known for “DeSoto Discovering The Mississippi.”

Billete de 500 dólares con John Marshall
500 dollar bill with John Marshall

In addition, the front of the bill has the image of John Marshal.

How much is a $500 bill with John Marshall’s image worth?

Most $500 bills in the 1918 series are worth between $4,250 and $5,000 in basic condition. In contrast, when in good condition, the value is about $15,000-18,500 .

In extremely fine condition the price is around $22,500-30,000. Bills issued by the Federal Reserve Banks of Boston, Dallas, Minneapolis, Philadelphia and San Francisco have a higher value. Bills issued with the combination of White and Mellon signatures are also worth more.

William McKinley, 1928 $500 Gold Certificate and $500 Federal Reserve Note

Two $500 bills of the 1928 series were created with the image of William McKinley. A Gold Certificate and a Federal Reserve Note. This makes it a very interesting piece.

Later new series were made with the image of William McKinley, for example, the 1934 Federal Reserve, specifically the Federal Reserve Note.

The latter was the series that was discontinued. That is to say, the Federal Reserve did not issue any more bills of this denomination, and even withdrew them in 1969, as we have already mentioned at the beginning.

How much is a 500 dollar bill with the image of William McKinley worth?

The price of the 1928 series, the Gold Certificate varies if the bills have a serial number lower than 100, these usually have a premium.

The prices of circulated bills range from $2,000 to $10,000, depending on their condition. Uncirculated bills are worth about $15,000.

In contrast, when we talk about the 1298 series, 500 Federal Reserve Note, we can say that a common 1928 five hundred dollar bill in circulation will be worth at least $1,000.

Uncirculated bills will be worth several thousand dollars. Bills with a light-colored stamp, star symbol or low serial number will be worth at least $1,500 and potentially more than $10,000 for the right combination.

 Billete de 500 dólares con William McKinley
500 dollar bill with William McKinley

Now, the last bills printed with William McKinley’s face is the 1934 series. From states there are known to have been nearly two million printed. It is possible that about 150,000 of these bills still exist, so it is relatively easy to find them at an affordable price.

Two series were created, the 1934 Federal Reserve Banknote Series and the 1934A Federal Reserve Banknote Series.

Factors that can influence the cost of these bills are the color of the stamp (light green stamps sell for more), the state of preservation, and the presence of star symbols in the serial number.

A 1934 $500 Federal Reserve bill typically sells for between $600 and $1,500 depending on condition. Uncirculated bills can sell for as much as $2,000. Star bills usually start at $1,500 and can reach several thousand dollars depending on condition.

How is a $500 bill valued?

The criteria used to determine the value of a bill is the same as that used for all notes in general.


Rarity is determined by how much currency was created and how much is left today. Older banknotes and those with errata or special markings tend to be rarer. For example, a bill with a star symbol in its serial number is usually more valuable.


The demand for a bill is based on its popularity and ease of obtaining. If a $500 bill is extremely scarce and very popular, demand will be through the roof. Demand can also vary based on where the buyer is located.


The condition of the bill will have a big impact on its price. Banknotes are usually graded from best to worst: uncirculated, nearly uncirculated, extremely fine, very fine, fine, very good, good, fair and poor.

Where can I buy a $500 bill?

The rarity and uniqueness of the $500 bill make it a collector’s item.

It is not something you can easily find at just any pawn shop or antique store. To find very old $500 bills, you would have to contact a coin broker or auction house.

Conclusions about $500 bills

As we said at the beginning, having one of these pieces allows us to be part of that history that surrounds the bill, the reasons why it was created and the reasons that led to its exit from circulation.

As with all coins of great value and rarity, they appreciate in value over time, as they become scarcer and the demand for them increases. Do you have a $500 bill and do you think it may be worth more in the future?

I’m sure you do and it will be a great value to inherit.

I'm a passionate full-time blogger. I love writing about startups, how they can access key resources, avoid legal mistakes, respond to questions from angel investors as well as the reality check for startups. Continue reading my articles for more insight.

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