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Fun Trivia Facts about the $500 Bill

Posted By Jim On 03/17/2010 @ 12:05 pm In Personal Finance | 44 Comments

Nowadays the highest denomination bill you can find is the $100 but back in the early 20th century, the Bureau of Engraving and Printing [3] 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 [4], $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

  • John Marshall [5] 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 [6], 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 [7].

  • 1928/1934 Green Seal Design


  • 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 [8], 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 [9].

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 [10] 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!)


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[1] Tweet: http://twitter.com/share

[2] Email: mailto:?subject=http://www.bargaineering.com/articles/fun-trivia-facts-about-the-500-bill.html

[3] Bureau of Engraving and Printing: http://www.moneyfactory.gov/

[4] Bureau of Labor and Statistics’ inflation calculator: http://data.bls.gov/cgi-bin/cpicalc.pl

[5] John Marshall: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Marshall

[6] William G. McAdoo: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_Gibbs_McAdoo

[7] Silver Certificate: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Silver_Certificate

[8] Andrew W. Mellon: http://www.ustreas.gov/education/history/secretaries/awmellon.shtml

[9] Federal Reserve Note: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Federal_Reserve_Note

[10] fifty fun facts about cold hard cash: http://www.bargaineering.com/articles/50-fun-facts-about-cold-hard-cash.html

Thank you for reading!