The world's highest denomination note is Hungary 100 Million B-Pengo (American 100 Quintillion Pengo)*,
issued in 1946. That's 100,000,000,000,000,000,000 Pengo. It was worth about
U.S. $0.20 in 1946.
Hungary also printed a 1 Milliard B-Pengo (Amerian 1 Sextillion Pengo)*, 1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000
Pengo, note in 1946. Overtaken by inflation, it was never in circulation.
* The European number system differs from the American system for denominations
above one million:
European 1 milliard = American 1 billion (1,000,000,000), and
European 1 billion = American 1 trillion (1,000,000,000,000).
Thus a B-Pengo or 1 Billion Pengo is really American 1 Trillion Pengo.
Highest Denomination Polymer Banknote
Romania 1 Million (1,000,000) Lei, issued in 2003, is the world's highest denomination
polymer plastic banknote. It's no longer legal tender. Four zeros were dropped
in the 2005 currency reform.
The lowest fractional note is Fiji 1 penny, issued in 1942. The old penny,
being 1/240 of a pound, is a lower denomination than other fractional notes
based on 1/100th of a basic monetary unit.
The notes with no denomination - Tatarstan issued a series of currency
checks without any denomination printed.
China is the first country to use paper money. Ancient paper money can be traced back to the Pai-Lu P'i-pi
(white deer-skin money) of Han Dynasty (120 BC) and the Fei-Chien (flying money) of Tang Dynasty (618-907 AD). However,
paper money did not have widespread circulation until the Southern Sung Dynasty (1127-1279 AD), and none has survived.
The earliest surviving notes are a few from the Chin Dynasty (1115-1234) and Yuan Dynasty (1280-1368 AD), and they can be
found in some museums.
This Yuan Dynasty 2 Kuan (1335-1340) note predates the more well known Ming Dynasty 1 Kuan note by several decades and is one of the oldest surviving banknotes in the world..
To commemorate the Centennial of Independence from more than 300 years of
Spanish colonial rule in 1998, the government of the Philippines wanted to do
something very special. It issued the world's largest banknote 355.6 mm by 215.9 mm (14" x 8 1/2"), beating the
previous record: China Ming Dynasty 1 Kuan 220 mm x 335mm (8 3/4" x 13 1/4").
The 100,000 Piso note, measuring 355.6 mm by 215.9 mm (14 x 8 1/2 inches), is accredited by the Guinness World Records
as the world's largest legal tender note in terms of size. The front depicts
the "Cry of Pugadlawin", when about 1,000 Filipino patriots led by Andres
Bonifacio gathered in Pugadlawin, on August 23, 1896. They tore up their
Spanish-issued residence certificates and yelled "Long live the Philippines",
signalling the start of a revolt against Spain. The back features General Emilio Aguinaldo displaying the Philippine
flag to the crowd below and proclaiming independence from Spain from the balcony of his house in Kawit, Cavite on June 12, 1898.
Only 1,000 of these notes were issued. Originally offered to collectors at a pre-issue price of 180,000 Piso (US$4175).
In times of war, coins are often in short supply. Gold and silver coins are hoarded for their intrinsic values. Other metals are appropriated for war efforts.
Many governments resort to printing small denomination banknotes as temporary substitutes. The following are some of the countries which had issued postage size banknotes:
Ivory Coast, Macao, Monaco, Morocco, New Caledonia, Romania, Russia, Spain and United States. Guinness World Records 2008 edition lists Romania 10 Bani 1917 note,
measuring 34 mm x 45 mm (1 5/16" x 1 3/4"), as the world's smallest banknote. Actually, Morocco 50 Centimes 1944 emergency issue, measuring only 42mm x 31mm (1 11/16" x 1 1/4"),
The note with the most zeros is Zimbabwe 100 trillion
(100,000,000,000,000) dollars 2008 (issued 2009). The note has 14 zeros printed on both
the front and the back.
Meant to be Torn in Two
This note, consisting of a 2 cents stamp on the left and a 3 cents stamp on the right, roulettes down the center for ease of separation. It is probably the
only currency note which could be torn in two and the two parts were still legal tender at different denominations.
The perfect forgeries, code named Operation Bernhard - Bank of England Pound
notes produced by prisoners of war in a German Concentration camp. Circulated
along with genuine notes.
Queen Elizabeth II
Queen Elizabeth II is the second longest reigning head of state after King
Rama IX of Thailand. She has been Queen since 1952. Her pictures appear on
banknotes of 34 countries. See Queen Elizabeth II Banknote
Japanese Invasion Money
The Japanese Government issued bank notes, known as Japanese Invasion Money
(JIM), during WWII in the following five occupied territories: Burma, Malaya,
Netherlands Indies, Oceania and Philippines.
First "United States" Banknotes
The United States government did not print banknotes until 1861.
However, almost immediately after adoption of the Constitution in 1789,
Congress chartered the first Bank of the United States and authorized it to
issue paper bank notes to eliminate confusion and simplify trade. The bank thus
served as the quasi central bank of the United States.
This $50 note was issued in 1801, exactly midway in the bank's twenty-year
U. S. Highest Denomination
The highest denomination issued by the United States for public circulation
is $10,000. The highest denomination currently in circulation is $100.
The highest denomination ever printed by the United States is the $100,000
Gold Certificate. They were restricted only for transactions between the Federal
Reserve and the Treasury Department.
U. S. Lowest Denomination
The lowest denomination ever issued by the United States is
the 3 Cents Treasury Note. Known as the Fractional Currency, they were used
during the Civil War when coins were in short supply.
Highest Price Paid
A world record of $2,255,000 was paid in a private transaction for a $1,000
1890 "Grand Watermelon" note in December 2006. It's the world's most expensive
Motto "IN GOD WE TRUST"
The motto IN GOD WE TRUST was declared the national motto of the United States
by the 84th U. S. Congress and was first used on paper money in 1957, when it
appeared on the One Dollar Silver Certificates.
How "buck" becomes slang for U. S. dollar? The term originated from the Old West
when buckskin was a common medium of exchange with Indians. Later as currency
replaced the barter system, people still refer to a dollar as a buck
(short for buckskin).
The five current monetary authorities which issue common notes for member countries
Central African States - Cameroon, Central African
Republic, Chad, Congo, Equatorial Guinea and Gabon.
East Caribbean States - Antigua, Anguilla, Dominica,
Grenada, Montserrat, St. Kitts, St. Lucia and St. Vincent.
French Pacific Territories - French Polynesia, New
Caledonia, and Wallis & Futuna Islands.
West African States - Benin, Burkina Faso,
Guinea-Bissau, Ivory Coast, Mali, Niger, Senegal and Togo.
European Monetary Union
- Austria, Belgium, Cyprus, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands,
Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia and Spain.
Many other countries also use Euro or pegged their currencies to Euro. See Who Use Euro?
My new blog,
Some Interesting Facts About Paper Money, offers timely articles and
commentaries on paper money related topics.