While a 10,000 dollar bill may sound outrageous to many today, this shock mostly stems from the fact that a note this large does not have any practical use case today. Think back to a time without the internet and digital cash transfers, and this humongous bill begins to make sense.
For example, 19th-century United States banks had to complete transactions between themselves that could go as high as millions of dollars.
In a world without digital record keeping and electronic transfers, these banks would have to send such large sums of physical cash between each other. Massive notes like the 10,000 dollar bill were the most practical tools for completing such transactions at the time.
Thanks to the advent of electronic money systems, such large-scale transactions were no longer needed.
Furthermore, large-denomination bills were becoming more of a concern for law enforcement, with fear that they may feature more often in cash-loving criminal activities like money laundering and drug trafficking.
Consequently, it was no surprise that the federal reserve quickly phased out every large-denomination bill, leaving us with the $1, $2, $5, $10, $20, $50, and $100 lineup that we all know and love today.
The Federal Reserve went as far as to shred every large-denomination bill received by the banks, effectively decimating the available supply of these notes in the general circulation.
As every seasoned collector knows, this situation is the perfect stimulus for any item to become a hotcake on the collector’s market, and that is what happened with these bills. Whatever pieces left in the general circulation were mopped up by collectors and stashed away for the promise of massive potential future gains.
Finding one of these notes in circulation today is nearly impossible, a fact especially true of the 10,000 dollar bill, which was already an extreme rarity even while it was in use.
Most people alive today have never seen a $10,000 bill, and few uninformed folks would even go as far as to doubt its existence.
With such mystique surrounding this super rare note, how much is a 10,000 dollar bill worth today?
Unsurprisingly, the $10,000 is a tier above most collectible United States notes today. Since it is still a valid legal tender, its massive denomination already sets a floor price of $10,000.
Hypothetically, you could enter any U.S. bank today and deposit the note into your accounts. However, doing so would be unwise, as $10,000 bills are usually worth a lot more. On average, you should expect one of these bills in good condition to sell at auction in the $60,000 – $150,000 range. Notes in uncirculated-level quality may sell for even higher.
Even old, poor-condition $10,000 bills typically sell for at least $30,000.
10,000 Dollar Bill Rarity
The 10,000 bill is a true collector’s item, as finding one is no easy feat. Even when this note was in circulation, the average citizen rarely ever saw one.
Back during the era before wire transfers, bills as large as this were used almost exclusively by federal reserve banks, commercial banks, and massive business behemoths to facilitate large-scale transactions that would be cumbersome to complete otherwise.
Consequently, there was barely ever a reason for this note to find its way into the line of sight of the average man.
Furthermore, even though these notes were technically issued to the public—you could have walked into a Federal bank at the time and demanded one by paying for its value in another denomination—only a tiny minority of the public could even afford one as $10,000 was quite a massive sum in those days.
For most of the era during which the $10,000 was readily available, the note’s value greatly outstripped the net worth of the average United States citizen.
The $10,000 dollar bill was the largest-denominated United States bill ever released to the public. While a larger 100,000 bill did exist, it was never circulated and was used exclusively in transactions between Federal Reserve banks.
Since it was never released to the public, the 100,000 bill can not be legally owned by collectors today.
Consequently, the Federal Reserve never had reason to create too many specimens of these notes. While you would be hard-pressed to find any statistics surrounding its total issuance, the fact that only a few hundred authenticated samples of the $10,000 note survive today indicates how little the original supply was.
According to one 2009 report, only 336 easily accessible specimens of this large bill are known to exist.
Of this small supply, a considerable percentage is locked away in museums and government institutions. This is especially true of the oldest iteration of the $10,000 bill, the first release in 1918.
There are only five known existing samples of the 1918 $10,000 bill, all of which are currently in the possession of governmental organizations. These five bills with serials B1A, B420A, D1A, L204, and L1957A are all the known pieces remaining from that era, as there are no verified 1918 $10,000 bills in private hands.
Suppose another specimen from this series appears in the wild and is authenticated. In that case, the chances are that it will sell for several hundred thousand dollars and possibly north of a million.
The 10,000 dollar bills you will find on the market today are from the later-produced 1928 and 1934 series. However, even these notes are in short supply. The Federal government only printed 60,000 bills over both years of production. From this meager initial supply, only the 336 bills we highlighted earlier are known to exist.
While there may have been more issues of the $10,000, only the 1918, 1928, and 1934 series have information available in the public domain. Other series of the $10,000 may have been used exclusively between banks and never released to the public.
Of these three series, only the 1928 and 1934 series are available for purchase by members of the public. However, you would need to be high profile collector to get one, as almost every available specimen from both series is worth a king’s ransom today/
The 10,000 Dollar Bill Series and their Value
Since there is no way to establish a price point for the 1918 series—as all the surviving units are in possession of the government—we will focus instead on valuing the 1928 and 1934 $10,000 bills.
There were no star notes released for either the 1934 series. Instead of the standard star appended to the serial number, the handful of replacement bills printed in these issues feature a lighter color ink than the regular notes.
However, because of the extreme rarity of the $10,000 bill, these replacement notes often do not command any added value on the collector’s marketplace.
Finding a $10,000 note for sale is hard enough, so any specimen that pops up on the market today will likely attract massive collector interest and a proportionate high price, whether it is a standard issue or a replacement note.
1928 10,000 Dollar Bill
Of the two easily accessible 10,000 bill types, the 1928 is the rarest of the bunch. Many would even consider the “easily accessible” adjective we used here a stretch for this note.
There are ten known existing specimens of this note, two of which are not for sale but rather are on display at financial museums across the country, leaving just eight samples available to collectors
For a note this rare (while being in extremely high demand) it is no surprise that every 1928 $10,000 federal reserve note on the market today will cost a fortune.
Expect bills from the series to sell at auction in the $200,000 to $500,000 price range. The bills in good condition typically sell for between $200,000 and $250,000. Notes in uncirculated or about uncirculated condition will easily cross that $250,000 threshold.
The most recent sale of a 1928 10,000 Dollar Bill (an event which does not happen often) was for an about uncirculated specimen rated MS 58 that sold for $504,000 in October 2022.
1934 10,000 Dollar Bill
The 1934 edition of this federal reserve note mirrors the exact design of the 1928, sporting a centered portrait on its obverse of Salmon P Chase, a former Chief Justice of the United States and one-time Secretary of the Treasury.
There are 328 known surviving examples of this note.
With this note being less rare than its predecessor, it appropriately commands slightly lower prices.
You can expect most 1934 $10,000 bills to retail in the $90,000 to $300,000 price range. Notes in uncirculated or near uncirculated condition will sell at the top of this range, often selling at auction for north of $200,000.
Lower-grade notes in fine to very condition will typically sell for between $90,000 and $150,000.