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Fun Trivia Facts about the $500 Bill

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Nowadays the highest denomination bill you can find is the $100 but back in the early 20th century, the Bureau of Engraving and Printing was printing bills as high as $100,000 (1934-35). There aren’t any high denomination bills left, after printing was officially discontinued in 1969 by President Nixon. It was an attempt to combat organized crime and there while they are still legal tender, their value to collectors far exceeds their face value nowadays. There aren’t many left though, so if you find one, take very good care of it!

Let’s have some fun facts!

Fun Facts about the $500 Bill

  • Here’s your first fun fact – There were two designs for the $500 bill, a 1918 design with a blue seal and a 1928/1934 design with a green seal.
  • According to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics’ inflation calculator, $500 in 1928 is worth approximately $6,335.88.
  • Depending on the quality of the bill, the 1918 bill is worth as much as $35,000 and the 1928/1934 version can fetch as much as $15,000 on the collector’s market.
  • 1918 Blue Seal Design

    $500 1918 Marshall Blue Seal Design Front$500 1918 Marshall Blue Seal Design Back

  • John Marshall is featured on the face of 1918 blue seal design.
  • Marshall has a distinguished career as a statesman. He was a member of the House of Representatives, Secretary of State under John Adams, and the longest serving Supreme Court Chief Justice, sitting from 1801 to 1835.
  • Marshall was one of the non-Presidents to appear on a bill. Benjamin Franklin is on the $100 and Alexander Hamilton on the the $10 (Salmon P. Chase, Secretary of the Treasury, is on the $10,000 but that hardly counts). Washington ($1), Lincoln ($5), Jackson ($20), and Grant ($50) were all presidents. I suppose he didn’t do a good job because ten years later he was replaced by President McKinley.
  • The Secretary of State that signed the bill was William G. McAdoo, who served from 1913 to 1918 under President Woodrow Wilson.
  • On the back, there’s a picture of Hernando de Soto discovering the Mississippi River in 1541.
  • Normally, the blue Treasury seal on the bill indicates it’s a Silver Certificate.
  • 1928/1934 Green Seal Design

    $500 1918 McKinley Green Seal Design Front
    $500 1918 McKinley Green Seal Design Back

  • The 25th President of the United States, William McKinley, is featured on the face of the bill.
  • President McKinley was assassinated in Buffalo by Leon Czolgosz at the Pan-American Exposition in 1901.
  • The Secretary of the Treasury that signed the bill was Andrew W. Mellon, who served from 1921 to 1932, through three presidents (Harding, Coolidge, and Hoover).
  • The back of the bill has no picture, it just has an ornamental “500” in the center.
  • Normally, the green Treasury seal on the bill indicates it’s a Federal Reserve Note.

I hope you enjoyed these facts about the five hundred dollar bill. It was a little trickier finding many facts about this bill since it’s not large enough of a denomination to get the attention the $100,000 bill gets, but I hope there were a few gems in there. If you didn’t get enough trivia, here are fifty fun facts about cold hard cash that I guarantee will teach you something you didn’t know beforehand! 🙂

(if you know of a fun fact I didn’t include about the $500, be sure to share it in the comments!)

{ 44 comments, please add your thoughts now! }

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44 Responses to “Fun Trivia Facts about the $500 Bill”

  1. I’m no history buff, but being originally from Buffalo, NY…I’m ashamed to admit I didn’t know the 25 president was assassinated there.

    Thanks for the fun facts! I learned something new today.

  2. echidnina says:

    Huh, interesting! I never knew there was a $500 bill, and if you’d shown me one I’d have thought it was a gag bill or something.

    • Wayne Phillips says:

      My dad took me to his bank in Florida in the early 1960’s. He had several hundred in savings and bought 4 $500 bills from the bank at face value. He then put those in a safe deposit box. A few years later the bank burned down and his safe deposit box was destroyed. The bank reimbursed the money he lost but not in the big bills.

  3. Curious that they chose to make the back of the bill less attractive on the later version. The back of the 1928/1934 looks like Monopoly money (no offense to Monopoly)

  4. Chris says:

    Some of the Federal Reserve Banks are open to the public. The one in Atlanta has a sheet of uncut $100,000 bills behind some pretty thick glass. These notes were for the use of the US Treasury only.

  5. Kate says:

    Very entertaining post. I wish I could find just one $500 bill! I have barely ever seen $100 – at least not in my wallet.

  6. jsbrendog says:

    this is the kind of stuff i love. I am a closet history buff. learn something every day.

  7. Joe says:

    Wow. It almost looks like Monopoly money.

  8. lostAnnfound says:

    I have some silver certificate bills. What is the difference from regular paper money?

    • Shock says:

      That means that it was backed by silver. You could redeem it for the equivalent amount in silver bullion.

  9. I have heard of the $100,000 bill, but it’s awesome to find out the history about this bill. Always learning something new.

  10. javi says:

    The Green Seal Design looks so fake. If I saw one, I would think it was counterfit.

  11. hoht says:

    That is awesome. The 1934 bill with the green back looks just like board game money.

  12. Interesting! Are you a collector yourself, Jim?

    • Jim says:

      Nope, other than a $1 silver certificate and the occasional hay penny, I’m not a collector. 🙂

      • Shirley says:

        Is the wheat straw penny worth any more than one cent or is it just the fascination of history in that it is no longer made?

        • zapeta says:

          Everything I’ve seen is that a wheat penny is worth at least 3 cents. Obviously some are worth much more.

  13. Shirley says:

    When my father died he left two suitcases full of coins, mostly pennies. We have done nothing with them. Any ideas for a starting point?

    • saladdin says:

      Just start a database of type/year and file them then you can research. Do it with your kid and tell stories about your dad as you do this to your kid.


      • Shirley says:

        Thank you for this wonderful idea. I have now done just exactly that, and I’m ready to start the research part.

  14. Craig Hilles says:

    One other thing: all pennies older than 1982 are worth about 2 cents based on the value of the copper. You can see that at

    Silver money is worth more. For example 1964 or older regular old Washington quarters have about $3 worth of silver in them.

  15. Wilma says:

    Since we hit that rough patch this past year people are spending coins they normally keep. Have been finding silver quarters, more bicentennial quarters, silver dimes and a lot more wheat pennies. I always filter through my change and separate it into jars every week. Thanks for the history lesson. =)

  16. ziglet19 says:

    Fun post, I have never seen a picture of a $500 bill before. Now I know a little trivia about it as well.

  17. J. Money says:

    Hah! I found a $1 silver certificate in my pocket a year or so ago – freakin’ awesome! Came really close to spending it until I realized something just didn’t look right.

    Sometimes I think about walking into a bank and seeing what they’d give me for it 😉

  18. Mrs. Money says:

    It’s funny- I work at a bank and we were talking about this yesterday! I wish they still made these. It would make life a lot easier when people come in and cash $6,000 checks!

  19. Cheap Bastard says:

    It’s a shame 100 is the biggest note to get easily. I really hate having to walk through the airport security and on the streets w/ several pockets bulging with cash on vegas trips.

    In europe, it’s easy to get 200 euro notes, and I’ve been able to pay for dinner w/ them.

  20. A. Chic says:

    The 1918 reverse side engraving is interesting since de Soto was running from Indians at the time and not likely to have made it such a festive looking event (and how could he have taken credit for “discovering” it anyway since Indians obviously were aware of its presence). Also, there would have been no tipis there either. Obviously, the representation of this even is grossly inaccurate. And, just in case someone thinks so, there is nothing symbolic about the event either.

  21. Craig/FFB says:

    John Marshall seems real interesting. You don’t have people holding offices like that anymore. Well, unless Hilary becomes a Supreme Court Justice.

  22. I wonder if they’ll ever bring back the $500 bill. Five hundred dollars doesn’t go as far as it used to and that’s not bound to change due to inflation. I would imagine that in the future people will walk around with $500 bills in their pocket the way we do with $20 bills today.

  23. DannyB says:

    One went on ebay for $965.00 a couple of day ago

  24. eric says:

    I love random trivia haha.

    Now to dig for high denomination bills under my couch…

  25. Kody Jones says:

    I have a 20 dollar bill with no green treasury stamp on it. how much would that be worth?

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