There are two types of small size
high denomination notes. - Gold Certificates and Federal Reserve Notes. -
These notes were printed for different series at different times. It’s
important to understand which notes were printed, delivered and issued and if they were infact intended for general circulation. One can then
determine which of these issues are “collectible,” which notes are
legal to own yet “unobtainable,” and which notes are illegal to own
and should be considered “government property.”
Small size Gold Certificates were
printed for three different Series. 1928, 1928A, and 1934. The only
regularly issued Gold Certificates came from the Series of 1928. (These were
actually printed in 1929 and were in use from 1929 to 1933) Signature
combination on these notes is Woods and Mellon. Seals and serial numbers
were printed in distinctive gold ink although the actual color resembles
orange – yellow. The backs were printed in green ink as seen on the reverse
of our standard small size FRNs today. Denominations of 1928 Gold
Certificates printed and issued were: $10, $20, $50, $100, $500,
$1000, $5000, and $10,000.
The four lower denominations are
generally available. The Series 1928 $500 and $1000 Gold Certificates are
considerably more expensive, with uncirculated examples running well into
the five-figure range. Interestingly, the 1928 $1000 Gold Certificate has
a large blank area on the right, where the denomination would normally have
been printed. This makes for a most unusual look. - This author
speculates approximately 150-200 of each $500 and $1000 Gold Certificate
extent. The majority of survivors have been heavily processed or
“improved.” Look for “closed” pinholes on many of these. Unmolested,
original examples are the exception and should be considered rare.
Also issued for Series of 1928
were the $5000 and $10,000 Gold Certificates. These notes (as with all
small size Gold Certificates) were immediately recalled following the Gold
Reserve Act of 1933. It is therefore unlikely that any exist outside of
institutions and government archives. They are however entirely legal to
own. One of these notes surfacing would certainly make for the ultimate
discovery note. Currently there are none in private hands.
Series 1928A Gold Certificates were printed in
denominations $10, $20 and $100. BEP records indicate that notes were
delivered, but none appear to have been released to the public. There is
some discrepancy as to whether these notes were destroyed or whether they
are in a storage vault at the United States Treasury building in Washington,
DC. The notes are infact legal to possess but should in all likelihood be
Woodrow Wilson is depicted on the
Series 1934 $100,000 Gold Certificate. It is the highest denomination
printed for all Federal paper money. The $100,000 Gold Certs were intended
for use in fiscal channels only and not general circulation. The notes are
strictly government property and are not legal to own. From time to
time the notes can be seen in BEP exhibits at larger coin or currency shows.
Federal Reserve Notes
$1000 Federal Reserve Notes were printed for Series 1928, 1934 and 1934A.
$5000 and $10,000 Federal Reserve Notes were printed for Series 1928 and
1934. These regularly issued high denomination FRNs were printed up until
1946 although they continued to circulate until 1969. - A handful of
Specimen notes were also printed for Series 1934B and 1934C. These
Specimens are uniface and not considered legal tender.
twelve issuing districts for series 1928, 1934 and 1934A $500s and $1000s
with the following exceptions: There were no 1934A Boston $500 FRNs, and
there were no 1934A Dallas $1000 FRNs. A complete District Set of $500s
would therefore consist of 35 notes. The same can be said for $1000s.
Completing a 35-piece District Set is a very popular way to collect.
Collecting all 12 districts of one series and one denomination (in highest
possible grade) is also very popular. For example: 1928 $1000s.
quantities for each district vary, as do survival rates. Print figures can
be deceptive as some notes may show a high printing but can be very rare.
eg. 1928 $500 FRN Boston District. Other notes show lower printing but may
be available due to hoarding.
$1000 replacement notes do exist. Collecting high denom star notes by
district can be extremely challenging. The 1928 stars are ultra rarities.
Putting together a district set of 1934 stars is possible altough the
number complete sets are limited by the availability of certain districts.
For example, the 1934 $1000 New York star is a rarity. This is ironic as
the “B” district was one of the most prolific issuers of non-replacements. The Series 1934A stars are even more rare than the Series 1934
significant seal color variations for $500 and $1000 FRNs. The Series 1928
notes come in five seal colors ranging from deep forest green to olive
green. The olive green is often called “light green seal.” Seal color
collecting for this Series has not hit the mainstream as data is still being
collected. Series 1934 high deonms however are highly collectible by seal
color. There are three seal color variations for 1934: Dark Green Seal,
Light Green Seal and Transitional Green Seal. The LGS variety is for the
earlier serial numbered notes. These 1934 LGS or “lime green seal” notes are
avidly collected. - 1934A $500s and $1000s come in dark green seal only. Contrary to popular belief 1934 $5000 and $10,000 FRNs were all issued light
$5000 and $10,000 FRNs
are very rare and among the most popular US currency issues. Putting
together a district set is prohibitive and most collectors find type (one
example from each denomination) to be more than sufficient. BEP records
indicate 674 pieces outstanding (340 $5000s and 334 $10,000s) Actual numbers
recorded / reported in the field is closer to half of the BEP numbers.
Regardless of the exact numbers, demand consistently outstrips supply for
these ultra high denoms.
Marc Michaelsen, Inc
P.O Box 1949 Boca Raton, FL 33429