Paper Money Trivia


Highest Denomination

Hungary 100 Million B-Pengo 1946 front

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 1 Milliard B-pengo 1946 front

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 1,000,000 Lei 2003 front

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.



Lowest Denomination

Fiji 1 Penny 1942 front

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.


No Denomination

Tatarstan 1000 Rubles 1995 front

The notes with no denomination - Tatarstan issued a series of currency checks without any denomination printed.




China Yuan Dynasty 2 Kuan (1335-1340) front

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..








Largest Size

Malaysia 600 Ringgit 2017 front

To commemorates the 60th Anniversary of the Signing of the Federation of Malaysia Independence, Malaysia issued the world's largest banknote 370 mm by 220 mm, beating the previous record: Philippines 10,000 Pesos 1998 355.6 mm x 215.9mm.


Smallest Size

Morocco 50 Centimes 1944 front

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"), is smaller.


Most Zeros

Zimbabwe 100 Trillion Dollars 2008 (2009) front

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

Ceylon 5 cents 1942 front

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.



Perfect Forgery

Bank of England Operation Bernhard 5 Pounds 1935 front

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

Great Britain 10 Pounds 2000 front

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 Collection



Japanese Invasion Money

Burma 10 Rupees 1944 front

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 Bank of the United States $50 1801 front

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 charter.


U. S. Highest Denomination

U. S. $10,000 1928 front

The highest denomination issued by the United States for public circulation is $10,000. The highest denomination currently in circulation is $100.



U. S. $100,000 1934 front

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

U. S. 3 Cents 1863 front

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

U. S. $1000 1890 front

A world record of $3,290,000 was paid for a $1,000 1890 "Grand Watermelon" note in January 2014. It's the world's most expensive banknote.




U. S. $1 1957 front

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.



A Buck

animated deer

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).



Monetary Unions

The five current monetary authorities which issue common notes for member countries are:

starCentral African States - Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Congo, Equatorial Guinea and Gabon.
starEast Caribbean States - Antigua, Anguilla, Dominica, Grenada, Montserrat, St. Kitts, St. Lucia and St. Vincent.
starFrench Pacific Territories - French Polynesia, New Caledonia, and Wallis & Futuna Islands.
starWest African States - Benin, Burkina Faso, Guinea-Bissau, Ivory Coast, Mali, Niger, Senegal and Togo.
starEuropean Monetary Union - Austria, Belgium, Cyprus, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia and Spain.
Many other countries also use Euro or pegged their currencies to Euro. See Who Use Euro?


More Trivia

My new blog, Some Interesting Facts About Paper Money, offers timely articles and commentaries on paper money related topics.




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