These two high values had indeed no actual role in the revival of household consumption desired by the government. They are the only case of issuing high denominations in the whole history of the greenback. The $ 5,000 Legal Tender Note is printed in only 4000 pieces in 1878, probably in a single run.
The $ 5,000 and $ 10,000 together constitute the rarest category of any US currency : no note has survived ! Proofs exist that allow to know these images with the effigy of Presidents Madison and Jackson respectively.
There is however in existence a specimen of the 1878 $ 5,000 Legal Tender Note, printed on both sides on the same paper as the production run.
It is identical to a regular note with three exceptions that cancel its circulation : the serial number is replaced by stars, the two printed signatures have been punched by three small holes each and an inscription has been stamped in brown ink. The inscription reveals its destination : "Specimen Furnished (to) the Chinese Government by the United States Treasury Department".
China was trying to open up to international trade. It was taking part in the 1878 Exposition Universelle in Paris. On this occasion an economist published some data : a 1875 census had counted 17 Chinese ports open to foreigners, totaling 340 foreign establishments and more than 3500 residents. 85% of the Chinese trade was with Great Britain and 5% with the United States.
This specimen was sold for $ 805K including Premium by Heritage in September 2007. Graded Very Fine 25 by PMG and by PCGS, it is estimated $ 600K for sale by Stack's Bowers in Baltimore on October 25, lot 3015.
SOLD for $ 504K including premium