10 Most Valuable And Rare 100 Dollar Bills: A Complete Guide

In 1862, the first 100 dollar note was introduced called the United States Note. In 1914 the Federal Reserve Note was issued as well as other denominations. Since that year when the federal reserve note came out, the 100 dollar note has had the image of American founding father Benjamin Franklin on the front.

These days the 100 dollar note is the largest American bill in circulation after the bigger denominations ceased production in 1969. If the $100 note in your wallet is still in good shape, it has 22 years and 9 months to stay in circulation before it is replaced with a new batch.

If this is the case, you may wonder what $100 notes from 22 years ago is worth, or what those from 44, 88 or more years are now worth if you find a sample. In this complete guide you are presented with 10 of the most valuable and rare 100 dollar bills that have been sold, and a complete price guide and how to identify a rare 100 dollar note.

10 Most Valuable And Rare $100: List

The Continental National Bank Chicago
Extremely Fine
Union National Bank of Chicago
Gem New 66
The Merchants National Bank Chicago
Gem Uncirculated 66
The Continental National Bank Chicago Red Seal $100 Note
Very Fine 35
The Elgin National Bank Chicago Brown Back $100 Note
Very Fine 30
Federal Reserve Bank Note
Gem New 66
Gold Certificate $100 Note
Extremely Fine 40
Legal Tender $100 Note
Choice About New 58
Interest Bearing Note $100
Very Fine
Treasury Note $100
About Uncirculated 53

1. Continental National Bank, Chicago 1902

Grade: Extremely Fine

Price: $4,887.50

Continental National Bank, Chicago 1902

Heritage Auctions reports that this sample here is the first of its kind from that national bank of Chicago. And it is also the first to appear in this grade as well.

The National Bank of Chicago is only one of the banks under the national bank system in Illinois. Notes from Illinois are notoriously valuable and therefore rare, as you will come to see in this list. It appeared though that this note wasn’t completely graded by PCGS or NGC. It is considered in our opinion as one of the least premium prices.

This failing has nothing to do with the condition of the note, however, the note is in great condition after more than a century. The colors are some of the most mature ones in my opinion. This one sold on Heritage Auctions for more than 4000 thousand dollars on January 6, 2007.

2. The Union National Bank of Chicago 1882

Grade: Gem New 66

Price: $99,875

The Union National Bank of Chicago 1882

Here is a $100 note from 1882 issued by the Union National Bank of Chicago. Its rarity comes from being one of the few of its kind from that bank or any other to be graded as 66. PMG has only graded two $100 bills from that bank. Another rarity this specimen enjoys is that it comes from a bank whose notes have surfaced only three times in the past.

So little wonder that collectors would be thirsty for 100 dollar notes of this quality and preservation from good old Illinois. This brown back is one of the rarest with a premium that was sold at Heritage Auctions in 2014.

3. The Merchants National Bank Chicago 1902

Grade: Gem Uncirculated 66

Price: $13,800

The Merchants National Bank Chicago 1902

This is the highest graded 100 dollar note issued by the Merchants National Bank of Aurora, Illinois. It was issued in 1902. This example shows great preservation. The printing is immaculate in that the margins surrounding the inlet are wide enough, the paper is original and the ink is dark on both sides of the note.

The signatures on the face are those of W.G Nicholson who was cashier of the bank and president F.J Knight. Every rare 100 dollar note is unique in its own rarity and this one is the only one reported in uncirculated grade.

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4. The Continental National Bank Chicago Red Seal $100 Note 1902

Grade: Very Fine 35

Price: $12,000

The Continental National Bank Chicago Red Seal $100 Note 1902

That 100 dollars basically is one out of 12 from this bank that is considered rare and extremely valuable. The rarity and value of this note come from the red seal on it. Collectors are known to favor red seal notes more than any other color. Experts at Heritage Auctions say it is a huge deal when notes in this grade and type of note surface from the banks in Illinois.

Notes with wide margins like this are a delight to see. And the color on the print and the signatures of the officers of that bank are very clear to see as the ink is dark and the color beautiful on this note. This red seal note went on sale at Heritage Auctions in 2018.

5. The Elgin National Bank Chicago Brown Back $100 Note 1882

Grade: Very Fine 30

Price: $10,350

The Elgin National Bank Chicago Brown Back $100 Note 1882

This National Bank note is from the one in Elgin, Illinois. This note is the type I call a lucky one because it sold well without showing much promise. This takes nothing from its rarity though. Notes from this bank are so few and perhaps this may have influenced the grading in this instance.

The note shows little margin but the color is hard and bright on this brown back. Being the type of note it is—brown back—it is considered valuable by collectors. There’s considerable wear on this note; there’s a tear that has been properly repaired so it is not very noticeable. This one sold at Heritage Auctions in 2008.

6. Federal Reserve Bank Note 1918

Grade: Gem New 66

Price: $4,887.50

Federal Reserve Bank Note 1918

A very rare specimen, this 1918 reserve note is one of 100 pieces that are known. Before this example, PCGS auctioned one in the 65 PPQ grade in March 2006. This example is one of the best on this list in terms of margin and embossing.

There are even gaps on all four sides of the note, the color is dark and bright on both sides. This 100 dollar note enjoys a special rarity in that there are only a few like it.

7. Gold Certificate $100 Note 1882

Grade: Extremely Fine 40

Price: $282,000

Gold Certificate $100 Note 1882

Collectors love red seal notes, in case you have one. They come with a high premium on them. This example has excitement written all over it. It has been purchased several times and has been in the custody of several collectors. It is a very familiar note in the archives of Heritage Auctions. It once remained in the collection of a James Stack for 40 years before it sold at auction for $30,000 to Dr. Cookson in 1990.

In America, an old note can be considered an “irreplaceable treasure.” This 100 dollar note has been sold several times which made the owners six figures. There are two other notes of the same veracity held by the government.

8. Legal Tender $100 Note 1863

Grade: Choice About New 58

Price: $207,000

Legal Tender $100 Note 1863

This 1863 $100 legal tender was first offered on Heritage Auctions in 1998. This isn’t the only one of this note but its rarity comes from the fact that six of them are permanently owned by museums out of a 25 known.

This is an exceptional sample in that it has no repairs or upgrades. It shows properties like a well-placed margin, bright colors, and a generally well-preserved condition. This note was sold at Heritage Auctions in 2008.

9. Interest Bearing Note $100 1865

Grade: Very Fine

Price: $207,000

Interest Bearing Note $100 1865

This note is so rare and valuable because there are only three of it in existence. One of them is owned permanently by the Smithsonian Institution since 1978. The one shown here is the best of the other two; beautiful margins, and free of repairs. The last time this note was on the market it came from Hickman & Oakes and it sold well. Here it is again and it was sold by Heritage Auctions in 2005.

10. Treasury Note 1890

Grade: About Uncirculated 53

Price: $195,500.00

Treasury Note 1890

This is the finest of the grades there is of this $100 note from 1890. It is called a Watermelon Hundred. This banknote has spent most of its time in bank vaults and never really saw life as a circulated note. For this reason, it shows some rounding in the edges which has been expertly restored to squares.

What makes this $100 note all the more rare and valuable is its provenance. The original owner was a Colonel named E.H.R. Green. It was also owned by writer Frank Limpert who used a picture of this note for his book illustration. At the time it went on sale at Heritage Auctions in 2008 it was from the Carter Collection. This note has always sold at premium prices at auctions.

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History of The 100 Dollar Bill

The $100 bill that you have today wasn’t always that size. In 1861 the large-sized hundred dollar bills were created and issued.

They were called Interest Bearing Notes. At the time, they weren’t meant for circulation but were made payable to the carrier of the bill. The front of the bill had the portrait of General Winfield Scott. It was the American civil war era. Following this, the $100 bill has gone through a lot of modifications and changes. A few are mentioned here.

By 1862 the interest-bearing note was replaced by the United States Notes, a legal tender. There were different types of United States Notes. There was a series of notes in 1863 when interest-bearing notes came back which paid 5% interest. There were one and two and half year interest bearing notes.

In 1863 also, the first Gold Certificates of $100 notes were issued. It had a bald eagle and a large 100 written in the middle. The reverse was printed in orange, unlike other notes that were green.

By 1864 compound interest treasury notes were issued that circulated for three years and paid holders 6% interest that compounded semiannually.

In 1869 a change was made to the United States Notes when the image of Abraham Lincoln was placed on the obverse and an allegorical figure was put on the reverse. One distinct feature was the addition of a TREASURY NOTE written on it even though it was a United States Note.

In 1870, the portrait of Thomas Hart Benton found its way onto the obverse of the newly issued Gold Certificate. It was distinctly a one-sided note. In 1878 the Silver Certificate was issued with the portrait of James Monroe on the obverse. Unlike any other US bill, the back of this one was printed in black ink.

By 1902 a National Bank note appeared. It was issued with a blue seal on the obverse and the portrait of John J Knox, the primary author of the Coinage Act of 1873.

$100 Federal Reserve Notes appeared in 1914 with the portrait of Benjamin Franklin on the obverse. It had figures on the back that represented labor, plenty, America, peace, and commerce.

The series of 1880 Gold Certificates was reissued in 1922. The purpose was to right off the serial number on the bottom left of the front of the bill.

In 1929 the current size of the US bills was first issued under the series of 1928. All $100 bills would carry the image of Benjamin Franklin, the border designs of both sides would all be the same sizes and the image of the independence hall would be on the back.

In 1933 under the series of 1929 the government responded to the great economic depression by issuing more federal Reserve Bank notes. By 1934 the government withdrew from the gold standard and thus removed the clause: Redeemable In Gold from the Federal Reserve Notes.

In 1934 $100 Gold Certificates were issued for the purpose of bank-to-bank transactions. The words on the back of the note declared: ONE HUNDRED DOLLARS IN GOLD PAYABLE TO THE BEARER ON DEMAND AS AUTHORIZED BY LAW.

In 1963, the words WILL PAY TO THE BEARER ON DEMAND were removed from the front of $100 bills because you couldn’t redeem in silver anymore. And in 1966 the United States Notes had a red seal and a serial number, the first US Currency to use the new treasury seal. And the words were in English and not Latin.

By 1990 anticounterfeiting microscopic printing was introduced through the series 1990.

In 1996 a major change occurred to the $100 bill since 1929. This was done to deter fakes from being produced on the dollar bill. Changes like a watermark of Franklin, optically variable ink which changed from green to black when you tilted the bill at an angle.

How To Know If Your $100 Is Fake

This is the worry of most people who are new to collecting dollar bills. They are afraid they might spend their hard-earned resources on a fake bill. This is how to spot a fake $100 bill.

  • If the $100 bill is laminated, then it’s a fake. The bill doesn’t have to be laminated as the paper used is very durable. And counterfeit makers like to laminate it to hide what it truly is.
  • If the bill is black and white, it’s fake. $100 bills or any bill for that matter are mostly multicolored.
  • If the bill is smaller than today’s bills, then it’s fake. Place the $100 bill over another bill and see if it is smaller.
  • Check the texture of the paper. If it feels like regular printing paper, then it is definitely fake.
  • Compare it with any other paper bill and if it’s bigger it is definitely fake.
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The Treasury stopped printing $100 bills because they didn’t want fakes. So your chances of stumbling on a fake hundred-dollar bill are very slim.

On the other hand, be wary of old $100 bills. They are some of the likeliest to be faked. Before paying for one, show it to an expert first.

$100 Bills Price Chart

Average Condition
Uncirculated Star
1934 A,B, C, D

Frequently Asked Questions

Who’s on the $100 bills?

The bills have been from Benjamin Franklin to Edward Everett and Henry Clay. And on the reverse, you can have allegorical figures.

What are error $100 bills worth?

There are different types of errors on the $100 bill that can earn you a premium in sales. This includes misprints, inverted backs, missing seals and serial numbers, and inverted seals.

The minimum average error $100 bill can bring you is $500 and the price can be up to six figures depending on other factors.

What are star notes?

They are notes that have star symbols at the beginning or end of their serial numbers. Not many have seen a star note in real life. The reason is that they are extremely scarce. They almost always bring a premium sale for the owner of the note. And collectors are always on the lookout for them. The older the era, the scarcer the star note.

Which is the most popular large size $100 bills?

Large-size $100 bills aren’t that popular as very few people now alive have seen them. These collectibles and their nature are the domain of experts and collectors. And not every collector has them. The ones you are likely to stumble on are the 1966 legal tenders and the 1928 yellow seal gold certificate notes.

How much is a $100 bill worth?

It depends on your note. If it’s in really poor condition it would be worth that amount: $100.

But if your $100 bill is from an old obsolete Bank it would be worth more in the neighborhood of $500 to $1000. The eye appeal, the demand, and the variety of your $100 can also push the price to as much as $100,000.

Do the banks have old $100 notes?

You can likely get an old $100 bill from your local bank. But again, it depends on a few factors like: is it a red seal legal tender? Is it a blue seal silver certificate or even a yellow seal gold certificate? All of these factors can determine if the bank would let you have it. They’d pull the mentioned bills out of circulation as soon as they spot them. Overall, your chances of getting an old $100 bill from the bank are slim.


The $100 bill is such an interesting subject in numismatic studies. An intermediate hobbyist can enter the study of the $100 bill to raise the bar for themselves and they’d be okay.

One thing is for sure, if all the $100 in the world at the moment were to be released, we’ll still find new things to learn about their errors and value.

This article has provided all the essentials you need to know about the $100 notes. It’s time to take a third look at the one in your possession. And if you are buying off the internet, the tips here can help you avoid buying a fake $100 note.

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