If you think pennies and nickels are just about useless, consider the other end of the spectrum: bills so large you can buy an entire island with it. Here, we take a look at some of the largest banknotes from past and present. Some of them were created in attempt to tame hyper-inflation, while others exist for the quirk.
Zimbabwe: 100,000,000,000,000 Dollars
In January of 2009, Zimbabwe began printing these notes, and by April of 2009, the Zimbabwean dollar was defunct. And to demonstrate how insane inflation was during that time, a loaf of bread generally ran nearly 300 billion Zimbabwean dollars — so the banknote wouldn’t even get you 350 loaves of bread. U.S. value: $300.
Yugoslavia: 500,000,000,000,000,000,000 Dinars
At the peak of Yugoslavia’s hyperinflation in 1993 and 1994, when the currency doubled just about every day, a single US dollar equalled nearly six trillion Yugoslav dinars. (The paper probably retained more value than the actual bills.) Today, you can scrounge around on Ebay and find a slightly less valuable — but still very large — 500,000,000 note selling for $1.79. U.S. value: pennies.
United Kingdom: 100,000,000 Pounds
You won’t find this monstrous note in circulation, but the bill remains stashed away in the federal reserve — probably hoping to never see the light of day. Every so often there’s a story about the one million pound note escaping. In fact, Mark Twain even wrote a book on the note. US value: $154,000,000.
Philippines: 100,000 Pesos
The 100,000 peso note is the world’s largest single banknote. Literally. It’s approximately the same size as a typical piece of printer paper. Created in 1998 to celebrate independence from Spain, the note was offered only to collectors who, funnily enough, shelled out 180,000 pesos ($3,700) for the bill. U.S. value: $2,300.
Hungary: 100 Million Billion Pengo
WWII destroyed the Hungarian pengo, which suffered the highest rate of hyper-inflation ever — prices doubled every fifteen hours. In 1946, Hungary created this titanic bill, which was worth almost nothing in most countries in Europe. Although the notes were printed, they were never actually issued. U.S. value: 20 cents…slightly more than the paper on which it was printed.