There are banknotes that have gigantic nominal value but little real value, such as the Zimbabwean 100 trillion dollar note and the Hungarian 1 sextillion pengo note. But there also exist banknotes which are amoung my favorite of all time that have rather large nominal value, as well as gigantic real value (aka you can buy a ton with just one note). The face value in US$ I mention refers only to it's value in US dollars at face value, and not its value when its price as a collectors item is considered.
These are the Top 8 Largest Banknote Denominations (In Terms of Real Value)
8. - The United States 5,000 dollar note
Face value in US$: $5,000
I've written about large denomination currency in the US several times already, but the US used to issue dollar bills much larger than $100. Number 8 on the list is the $5,000 bill. Featured is the portrait of US President James Madison. Yes, there will be other larger US dollar bills on this list, as the United States has printed quite large value denominations in comparison to other nations.
7. - The Brunei 10,000 dollar note
Face value in US$: $8,091
While most modern nations have stopped issuing currency of denominations this large into general circulation out of fear of money laundering and other reasons, the nations of Brunei and Singapore defy this trend. The Brunei $10,000 bill is the tied as largest banknote that is still regularly printed by its nation's central bank and released into circulation. It is also the worlds most valuable banknote that's made of polymer as opposed to paper. The portrait of Sultan Hassanal Bolkia is on the note, the currently long ruling leader of Brunei.
6. - The Singapore 10,000 dollar note
Face value in US$: $8,091
Now this is actually tied with the Brunei $10,000 bill and has the same exact real value, but I put this at one position higher due to the Singapore dollar being the more widely used of the two currencies. The Singapore $10,000 bill is often cited as the most valuable banknote, though it is pegged in value to the Brunei dollar, and there do exist more valuable banknotes that are either no longer printed or have only been issued internally. The man on the bill is Yusof bin Ishtak, the first president of Singapore. All denominations of Singapore dollar bills are in different colors, and this one is appropriately printed in gold.
5. - The United States 10,000 dollar note
Face value in US$: $10,000
Yep here it is yet again, the US $10,000 bill. The portrait is of Salmon Chase, the secretary of the treasury under Abraham Lincoln and the man who designed the first set of US banknotes. This bill is notable for being the largest denomination of dollar bill issued to the public in the United States (but not the largest printed ever). Like most denominations of the dollar above $100, this bill was mostly used for payments between large banks and businesses, but ceased production amid fears of organized crime and carrying large bills like this one.
4. - The Thailand 500,000 baht note
Face value in US$: $16,743
This banknote was a comemmorative banknote in Thailand and possibly the most valuable banknote that is legal to be owned by an individual as opposed to a bank of government. The largest regular issue of banknote in Thailand is the 1,000 baht note and so this is a tremendous jump from what is typically used as legal tender in Thailand. This note was issued to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of Royal Wedding of King Bhumibol Adulyadej and Queen Sirikit, and was issued both in 50 baht and 500,000 baht.
3. - The United States 100,000 dollar note
Face value in US$: $100,000
This is the third time this bill has shown up in my blog but this should be the last time for awhile. The third largest bill in existence and the largest denomination of the US dollar in existence is the $100,000 bill. Only printed as part of the 1934 gold certificate series, it's only been used for payments between federal reserve banks and the US treasury. Woodrow Wilson's portrait is on the bill. It is unknown how many of these bills are still in existence, as the federal reserve is known to still holds billions of dollars in gold certificates.
2. - The United Kingdom 1,000,000 pound note
Face value in US$: $1,552,100
Now we arrive at the absolutely gargantuan value banknotes that are not well known to many, and to most a banknote of this value seems completely absurd. However, they do indeed exist. The reason for this bill's existence is due to an anomaly in the British banking system. The Banks of Scotland and Northern Ireland are permitted to issue their own version of the British pound, but in order to ensure public confidence in their ability to be used in transactions, the Bank of England (the central bank in the UK) requires that every pound issued by these national banks be backed pound for pound by Bank of England issued pounds. Therefore the Bank of England holds banknotes in its vaults of enormous value, including the 1 million pound banknote denomination. Within the Bank of England, these are named "giants" and there are 4,000 of them printed.
1. - The United Kingdom 100,000,000 pound note
Face value in US$: $155,210,000
In addition to the 1 million pound banknote, the Bank of England also has stashed away 40 banknotes for the same purpose named "titans" with a value of 100 million pounds each. Whereas the 1 million pound note is A5 in size, the 100 million pound note is the larger A4 size. This is by far the largest (known) banknote in the world in terms of real value. I think it's pretty fascinating that such a giagantic amount of value can be legally assigned to a single piece of paper.