The Hundred Dollar Bill

In the United States, which historical figure appears on the $100 bill?

And the answer: Benjamin Franklin.

Franklin's face appears on the $100 bill, which is the largest denomination currently in circulation. There used to be a $500 bill featuring President William McKinley, but it was discontinued in 1969 for lack of use.    

Photo credit: public domain. 

Back in 1914, the first $100 bill was issued. Although it was still adorned with Ben Franklin's face, it was far from the largest bill in circulation: denominations of $500, $1,000, $5,000, and $10,000 were in use until 1969. Today, the $100 bill is the second most widely circulated bill around, second only to the dollar bill. While the dollar bill makes up more than 31% of the more than $1.1 trillion Federal Reserve notes in circulation, the hundred dollar bill comes in a close second at 26%. Interestingly, though, most $100 bills aren't in the United States. A whopping 75% of $100 bills are held internationally, because the U.S. dollar is the top global international reserve currency,

The hundred dollar bill is also a site (and sight) of constant innovation, as it is often the most counterfeited bill. For decades, officials have sought ways to make the bill more unique and difficult to replicate, and the most recent manifestation of this effort is color-changing ink. On the newest redesign of the hundred dollar bill, the lower right corner has the capability to shift between copper tones to traditional green when in the light. According to Esquire, this is thanks to the ink containing microscopic metallic flakes that reflect various wavelengths of light. Additionally, before the issue of the previous version of the $100 in 1996, each bill contained the seal of a specific Federal Reserve Bank. In 1996, individual seals were replaced with a general seal denoting the entire Federal Reserve System, so bills of higher denomination could receive a unique seal.

In recent years, some groups have called for the disuse of hundred dollar bills. Thanks to widespread global counterfeiting, some economists have called for the elimination of the bill — giving citizens a few years to turn in their hundred dollar bills, otherwise facing the currency to become invalid and extinct. Though it would surely make grandparents' gift-giving a little bit more difficult...

Learn more about the new $100 bill below.

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