Thanks to bodegas, tax-dodging bars, and street vendors, cash has been successfully fending off extinction for quite some time. But now that Tim Cook and Apple have decided to wage war on our nation's payment systems—as well as other fresh card technologies—cash might only be used by people who need a stable untraceable currency (shoutout to Bitcoin!).
It'll be a shame if it vanishes, because cash has a history of cool designs that reflect the times. Looking back on the cash of yesteryear, it's clear that we've been in a decline for a while. The largest denomination you can get these days is the $100, which is pretty boring.
Things used to be a little more fun. Check it out.
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2014 Equivalent: A $93,000 bill Things got really big for the first time back in the 1860s when the US Bureau of Engraving and Printing (yes, moneyfactory.gov) decided to kick it up a notch. If it were around today, it could have bought a Porsche all by itself.
The $10,000 Bill (1878)
2014 Equivalent: A $230,000 bill
This was the big kahuna for anyone trying rob a train, since it could buy you a loot-storing safehouse to celebrate in after. Maybe not a sweet one, but a decent one in a fine neighborhood in the heartland of America. It was the largest legal tender bill ever made, intended for public usage, unlike a gold certificate.
The $1,000 Bill (1928)
2014 Equivalent: A $13,000 bill While the early big bills were cool, they don't exactly look like money today. But in the 1920s, things started to look like today's cash. The $1,000 bill, worth about a Smartcar in today's dollars, featured Grover Cleveland and his phenomenal mustache. Back then, it was still redeemable in gold.
The $5,000 Bill (1928)
2014 Equivalent: A $70,000 bill Evidently five times more important than Cleveland, James Madison snaked a place onto this massive bill. It was one of the last huge denominations that was pure legal tender for public use, not a gold certificate for internal or private use.
2014 Equivalent: A $134,000 bill This enormous fella featured Salmon Chase, who we had to Google. Apparently he was a Chief Justice, who did some good things for the abolitionist movement. The $10,000 bill? Better than a statue.
The $100,000 Bill (1934)
2014 Equivalent: A $1,800,000 bill This is the largest thing ever printed. Everyone who held it was unbelievably nervous.