How much space to store a million dollars (cash)

This is a question related to a story/novel/something I’m working on. It will be set in 1963, if that makes a difference. I’m wanting to know, because the protagonist will be recieving a million bucks for an illicit deed, and will need to stash the money appropriately before other events take place. He’ll probably want nothing larger than a hundred dollar bill. Could he move this much cash in a money belt? A suitcase? Steamer Trunk? I’d intended for him to insist on American dollars, but an equivalent amount in foreign currency may suffice. The character will be somewhat sophisticated in dealing with exchange rates and possibly secure banking transactions–but may need to hop a couple of international borders with minimal chance of attracting attention…

If you kept the denominations to only $100, that would give you 200 stacks of 50 bills each. Seams like a job fit for a suitcase, or a large duffle bag.


Also, that’d obviously be 10,000 bills total.

This is not hard to figure out. He’ll need 10,000 $100 bills. Have you ever counted out $100 in ones? It makes a stack an inch or two high. So each stack of $100’s would be $10,000, and your protagonist will need 100 such stacks. So if you could find a briefcase that could hold 10 stacks across and 3 deep, You’d have to pile your stacks about 3 deep inside the briefcase, probably somewhere between 3 and 6 inches.

So it’s not going to fit into a money belt, but it’ll fit in a briefcase. If you want to be precise about it, measure a bill or google for the dimensions, figure out exactly how thick a stack is, then google some briefcases and get their interior dimensions and figure out if your money will fit. Now you can even use the brand name of the briefcase in the book and know you’re okay.

Hmmm…200 stacks of 50 bills. Wonder what the height of such a stack would be? Maybe an inch? If I were to combine stacks…say 20 stacks of 500 bills each, I’d then have 20 stacks of approximately 6 inches long and 5 inches high…

Yeah, a suitcase, or perhaps a large briefcase could work. Would really like to use a money belt if at all possible, but that doesn’t seem realistic.

As a followup, any idea how much weight we’re talking about here? The protagonist is going to be in good physical condition–not superhuman at all, but aging soldier/warrior type conditioning…

Dusts off old bookmark…

Here´s the answer

Great web site; check it out, it´s very funny.

Excellent info. Posted just as I was posting my followup about the weight involved. Like the idea about using a name brand briefcase…but I’ll need at least a company that existed in 1963, even if I have to kayfabe the exact model…

Am I safe in assuming 1963 bills had the same dimensions as modern bills?

Ale, that is a great site!

Oak, if you want to use something from 1963, go with the sample case illustrated on the site. They’ve been around since the 40’s and are used by all sorts of people.

Yes… according to this list of trivia, notes have been the same size since 1929.

Incidentally, you can see a million dollars in cash by watching the final table of some televised poker tournaments. When it gets down to two players, they dump the million dollar prize out on the table. It’s an impressive pile, but still small enough to fit your arms around.

Thanks for the link. Lots of good stuff there.

Also, thanks to all for the speedy answers. Now, when I finish the manuscript and the rejection letters start rolling in, at least I’ll know it won’t be because of obvious errors…then again, it will likely be because my writing sucks :frowning:

Yup, will do. It also ties in with another little “easter egg” I’m toying with inserting for some friends of mine from elsewhere on the net. It seems a famous champion was known for carrying that type of briefcase…and he might get a cameo appearance, if I can verify his whereabouts during the critical dates…

If you want to inject a bit of fun to your story, have your protagonist ask for the cash in pennies.

One million dollars

Easy enough to approximate. Think about how much a 500 sheet ream of paper weighs. Multiply that by a factor of maybe four or five. Or just go get some paperback books and fill a briefcase of the required dimensions. We’re probably talking on the order of 10-20 lbs.

<I just googled that site linked above>

Hmmn… pretty close to my estimates. Remember that the weight of the bills will not necessarily match the reams of paper, because paper can be had in all sorts of weights, and bills are printed on linen paper, which may or may not be heavier than typical 20lb sheet paper.

Also, whether the bills are new or used will make a pretty big difference. Used bills get crumpled, and even when straightened a stack of them will take up significantly more space than new bills will. I’m not sure how easy it would be to compress them when they’re 300 bills thick, either. So bottom line is I don’t think there are any exact answers to your questions (aside from weight - weigh some actual bills, and multiple the amount by 10,000).

In 1963, these were made mostly of copper which at today’s prices would make them worth around $2 million.

That’s not going to work for this particular story. The protagonist is a professional at what he does, and has two main interests here–getting paid, and surviving to spend his fee. He’s definitely going to get paid. His survival is less certain at this point…

I was only kidding, of course. (But I love the Mega-Penny Project, and couldn’t resist adding a link.)

And I hadn’t thought about the copper content, but then, ‘today’s prices’ don’t quite apply, eh?

Well, in theory, if he survives the aftermath of his endeavor, he could still be alive in 2006, but he’d be very old. Suspect he’d earn more from interest/investing than the value of the copper. I’m toying with a couple of “hooks” to tell the story…possibly an “Owl Creek Bridge” mechanism of sorts, or possibly a flashback sequence–the protagonist makes a startling deathbed confession, or maybe he kept a journal that is discovered. Right now, the parts of the story that are written are all in first person, and I’m undecided about whether this will be a short story/novella, or a full blown book. Leaning toward a shorter piece, as I think it may have more impact that way…but a longer work may be more marketable…

Here is the data to figure backward just divide by 1,000.

** One Billion Dollars **

More like 0.375 to 0.40 inch by actual measurement of new bills, allow 1/2" to be generous.

I would think that getting paid that much in actual bills would set off some red flags somewhere. When did the government’s rules on large cash transactions go into effect? I know a lot of funny laws went into place to combat gangsters in the 30’s and as such would have been in place in 1963. A professional would certainly be aware of these rules, and how to get around them.

Someone doing an illicit deed for that much money would be more likely to be paid in gold bars or diamonds, wouldn’t they?

What were the mafia types doing in 1963 to move large amounts of money around without the government finding out about it?