Coolest Currency Concept… Ever

So I’m on one of my Googling sorties, as you do. And I come across some committee documentation from a 1998 meeting of the House of Representatives Committee on Banking and Financial Services (Subcommittee on Domestic and International Monetary Policy.)

I know, I know: could there be something more boring? Well, yes, and your first hint this isn’t your run-of-the-mill meeting is the topic: “Will Jumbo Euro Notes Threaten the Greenback?” And then, barely two paragraphs into his opening statement, Chair Michael Castle throws out this nugget:

Regarding the United States $500 and $1,000 bills already in existence, current estimates of outstanding $500 bills in circulation are about 286,000 notes, or $143,889,500 worth. For $1,000 bills, there are 167,101 notes, or obviously $167,101,000. It is well known that these high value notes were mostly issued to Brett Maverick in the 1880’s for his high stakes poker games.

Obviously, thousand-dollar bills — rare thousand-dollar bills — are cool to begin with, but can you imagine a time when the U.S. Treasury issued notes specifically for one man? For gambling?

Damn, I hope it’s true.

One Response to “Coolest Currency Concept… Ever”

  1. awarren Says:

    In addition to the $500 and $1,000, $5,000 and $10,000 notes were printed and circulated publicly, and while out of circulation, the treasury will still redeem them at face value. The treasury actually also printed $100,000 notes, but they were only traded between federal reserve banks to simplify bigger transactions. They had Wilson’s portrait because, if memory serves, he signed the bill creating the reserve.

    Of course, unlike Brett Maverick, Woodrow Wilson was not a fictional TV character from a 1950s-era Warner Bros TV series…

    …Anyway, Michael Castle’s funny comment (which will live forever in the congressional record) reminds me of something I stumbled upon last week. I was hopelessly flipping channels and hit on CSPAN covering a live house debate, I think over budget, and an older-looking Arkansas congressman was arguing with some young florida gentleman, and called him a “howdy doody looking nimrod.” Once I picked myself up off the floor I thought to myself, “oh, we’ll be hearing about that on the news.”

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