What does a thousand-dollar bill look like? The thought of holding a thousand-dollar bill can seem surreal – it’s a high-denomination banknote that most people will never come across in daily life. But these rare and valuable bills do exist, even if they are no longer printed.

If you’ve ever wondered what a thousand-dollar bill looks like up close, you’ve come to the right place.

If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer: Modern U.S. thousand-dollar bills feature a portrait of Grover Cleveland on the front and an ornate design with the words ‘The United States of America’ on the back.

They are brown and green and measure 155.956 x 66.294 mm (6.14 x 2.61 inches).

In this comprehensive guide, we will explore various aspects of thousand-dollar bills, including:

Brief History of $1000 Bills

When Thousand Dollar Bills Were First Issued

The first $1,000 bill rolled off the U.S. Bureau of Engraving and Printing presses in 1861 during the Civil War era. With inflation driving prices up and coinage in short supply, the federal government began printing paper currency in denominations as high as $1,000 to help fund the war effort.

These original thousand-dollar bills featured a portrait of General Winfield Scott on the face and an orange-brown design on the back.

Key Design Updates Over the Years

The look of thousand-dollar bills evolved in the decades after they were first issued:

  • 1869: The face design changed to feature Alexander Hamilton, the first U.S. Secretary of the Treasury.
  • 1880: An intricate geometric pattern replaced the orange-brown back design.
  • 1918: The overall color scheme shifted to feature a black seal and serial numbers on a green-hued bill.
  • 1928: Security features were enhanced, with the portrait enlarged and an encrypted number and ornate border added.

This $1,000 bill design from 1928 would be the last issued for circulation in 1945. Collectors today covet these notes featuring President Grover Cleveland’s portrait in the center.

When $1000 Bills Were Discontinued

By the middle of the 20th century, inflation had stabilized to the point that high-denomination bills were seldom used in routine transactions. With emerging concerns that these notes could facilitate illegal activities, U.S. lawmakers voted to permanently discontinue $500 bill in 1969.

They phased out the $1,000 bill soon thereafter in 1945.

While no longer in public circulation today, the legacy of the old thousand-dollar banknote lives on. More than 165 years since they first appeared to fund a nation at war, these monetary artifacts remain popular among currency collectors.

Auction prices for the rarest $1,000 bills in top condition can exceed $3 million — a testament to their enduring intrigue.

Physical Features of $1,000 Bills


The $1,000 bill, also known as a “grand note”, measures 2.61 inches wide by 6.14 inches long. This makes it the largest denomination of US currency currently in circulation. It is 66.294 mm in width and 156 mm in length.

Compared to the $1 bill which is 2.61″ x 6.14″, the $1,000 note is the same size.

Color Scheme

The predominant color featured on the $1,000 bill is black. The front side has a dark brownish overtone, while the back side uses shades of olive and yellow-green. There are also shades of red, blue, and peach used in different elements of the bill’s imagery and design.

Portraits, Imagery and Text

The front of the $1,000 bill features a portrait of President Grover Cleveland in the center, along with an engraving of the United States Treasury Building to the left side. The back is adorned with an image of the Great Seal of the United States.

The bill features standard textual elements like the US Treasury Seal, serial numbers, Federal Reserve inscriptions, and more. The words “One Thousand Dollars” are prominently displayed in a large typeface at the top corners of the front side.

Security Features

To prevent counterfeiting, $1,000 bills are produced with advanced security features. These include:

  • A vertical security strip to the left of Cleveland’s portrait, knitted between layers of the bill but visible from both sides
  • Optically variable ink – the numeral “1000” in the lower right corner on the front shifts between green and black when tilted
  • Fine-line printing patterns as well as microprinted words appear around Cleveland’s portrait and the words “United States of America”
  • Watermarks can be seen when held up to the light, depicting the same portraits as the front
  • Embedded Federal Reserve System and Treasury Department seals fluoresce under ultraviolet light
  • A unique serial number and eight check digits printed in magnetic ink facilitate authentication

Rarity and Value of Thousand Dollar Bills Today

Thousand dollar bills, also known as large denomination bills, are quite rare in circulation today. According to the U.S. Department of Treasury, production of the $1,000 bill ended in 1945. Existing $1,000 bills remain legal tender, but most have been removed from circulation and are now only held by collectors and dealers.

There are a few key reasons why the $1,000 bill is hardly seen in public use:

  • Discontinuation – The federal government discontinued the production of the $1,000 bill several decades ago, leading to an increasingly limited supply over time.
  • Combating crime – Large bills like the $1,000 make money laundering easier, so governments prefer to rely on smaller denominations.
  • Lack of public need – There is low consumer demand for such a high-value note in typical commerce and payments.

However, thousand-dollar bills maintain considerable collectible value today. Broadly speaking, two primary factors determine the current price or worth of a $1,000 bill:

  • Age and condition – Older $1,000 bills in pristine condition are worth more to collectors and dealers.
  • Rarity – Certain $1,000 bills had shorter production runs, making them more scarce and valuable.

For example, some exceptionally rare $1,000 notes have sold at auction for over $3 million in recent years. Even worn $1,000 bills can sell for upwards of $2,000 if they are early series notes from the late 19th or early 20th century.

Denomination Last Year of Production Number Left in Circulation
$1,000 bill 1945 Less than 200 (est.)

What Does A Thousand-Dollar Bill Look Like – Conclusion

While thousand-dollar bills may seem almost mythical, they were very real legal tender in the U.S. for over 100 years. With their large portraits, intricate designs, and air of prestige, these notes fascinate collectors and non-collectors alike even today.

Though no longer printed since 1945, some older thousand-dollar bills do remain in circulation, commanding high collector values due to their rarity, unique look, and history.

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