United States two-dollar bill
|Weight||Approx. 1 g|
|Years of printing||
1976–present (Federal Reserve Note, current form)
|Design||Trumbull's Declaration of Independence|
The United States two-dollar bill ($2) is a current denomination of U.S. currency. The third U.S. President (1801–09), Thomas Jefferson, is featured on the obverse of the note. The reverse features an engraving of the painting Declaration of Independence by John Trumbull. Throughout the $2 bill's pre-1929 life as a large-sized note, it was issued as a United States Note, National Bank Note, silver certificate, Treasury or "Coin" Note and Federal Reserve Bank Note. When U.S. currency was changed to its current size, the $2 bill was issued only as a United States Note. Production went on until 1966, when the series was discontinued. Ten years passed before the $2 bill was reissued as a Federal Reserve Note with a new reverse design. Two-dollar bills are seldom seen in circulation as a result of banking policies with businesses which has resulted in low production numbers due to lack of demand. This comparative scarcity in circulation, coupled with a lack of public knowledge that the bill is still in production and circulation, has also inspired urban legends about its authenticity and value and has occasionally created problems for those trying to use the bill to make purchases.
The denomination of two dollars was authorized under a congressional act, and first used in March 1862. The denomination was continuously used until the 1960s; by this time the United States Note was the only remaining class of U.S. currency the two-dollar bill was assigned to. In 1966 it was decided to discontinue production of all United States Notes, which included the two-dollar bill. The two-dollar denomination was not immediately reassigned to the Federal Reserve Note class of United States currency and was thus fully discontinued; the Treasury Department cited the two-dollar bill's low use and unpopularity as the reason for not immediately resuming use of the denomination. In 1976, production of the two-dollar denomination was resumed and the two-dollar bill was finally assigned as a Federal Reserve Note, with a new reverse design featuring John Trumbull's depiction of the drafting of the United States Declaration of Independence replacing the previous design of Monticello. It has remained a current denomination since then. It was estimated that if the two-dollar bill replaced approximately half of the one-dollar bills in circulation, the federal government would be able to save about $26 million in 1976 dollars ($112 million adjusted for inflation) over the period from 1976 to 1981, due to reduced production, storage, and shipping costs.
However, due to their limited use, two-dollar bills are not printed as frequently in a new series as other denominations, which are produced according to demand. Some bill acceptors found in vending machines, self checkout lanes, transit systems and other automated kiosks are configured to accommodate two-dollar bills, even if the fact is not stated on the label. Although they are generally available at most banks, two-dollar bills are usually not handed out except upon specific request by the customer, and may cause a delay with a trip to the vault.
Printing $2 bills is twice as cost-effective for the government as printing $1 bills, since they both cost the same amount (about $0.05) to make, but the public has not circulated them as widely. During the Great Depression, few Americans had enough money to require $2 bills. In the middle of the 20th century, $2 bills were commonly used at strip clubs, for betting on horse racing, and for bribery when politicians wanted votes (though this may be an urban legend) and so acquired a negative reputation. The unusual reverse design of the 1976 note contributed to hoarding and combined with the earlier discontinuation to give the impression these notes might be valuable as collector's items, above their face value. The public at large continues to be unfamiliar with the notes because they are not being circulated widely.
Today, there is a common misconception by the general public that the $2 bill is no longer being produced, though bills have been printed with series of 1976, 1995, 2003, 2003A, 2009, and 2013. A series changes when there is a redesign of the bill or changes in signatory; Secretary of the Treasury or Treasurer of the United States. The U.S. treasury reports that $1,549,052,714 worth of $2 bills were in circulation worldwide as of April 30, 2007.
Things such as unusual serial numbers (example: A11111111A), and replacement notes designated by a star in the serial number can raise the collector value. "Collectible" two-dollar bills have been made and sold by coin dealers and others in recent years merely by adding colors and special graphics to regular issue bills by using computer printers. However, these bills are not authorized by the Bureau of Engraving and Printing (BEP) and are not worth anything more than face value on the collectors' market.
Certain conventions and tourism/convention bureaus capitalize on the scarcity of $2 bills in circulation, encouraging convention attendees and tourists to spend $2 bills in order to illustrate to the host communities the economic impact that the conventions and tourism bring. Sometimes known as "SpendTom" campaigns, the $2 bills linger in the community as a constant reminder. Some campaigns encourage people to participate in a hunt for the bills in order to win prizes.
(approximately 7.4218 × 3.125 in ≅ 189 × 79 mm)
In March 1862, the first $2 bill was issued as a Legal Tender Note (United States Note) with a portrait of Alexander Hamilton; the portrait of Hamilton used was a profile view and is not the same portrait used currently for the $10 bill. The continental congress based on defending the United States, released on June 25, 1776, began to authorize $2 credit, the circulation of 49,000 copies. Pass two-dollar bill was first used in March 1862. Between 1966 and 1976, two-dollar notes were not printed.
By 1869, the $2 United States Note was redesigned with the now familiar portrait of Thomas Jefferson to the left and a vignette of the United States Capitol in the center of the obverse. This note also featured green tinting on the top and left side of the obverse. Although this note is technically a United States Note, TREASURY NOTE appeared on it instead of UNITED STATES NOTE. The reverse was completely redesigned. This series was again revised in 1874; changes on the obverse included removing the green tinting, adding a red floral design around WASHINGTON D.C., and changing the term TREASURY NOTE to UNITED STATES NOTE. The 1874 design was also issued as Series of 1875 and 1878, and by 1880, the red floral design around WASHINGTON D.C. on the United States Note was removed and the serial numbers were changed to blue. This note with the red floral design was also issued as Series of 1917 but with red serial numbers by that time.
National Bank Notes were issued in 1875 and feature a woman unfurling a flag and a big 2 (Lazy Duce) on the obverse. The reverse has the king of England smoking tobacco and an eagle with a shield.
In 1886, the first $2 silver certificate with a portrait of United States Civil War General Winfield Scott Hancock on the left of the obverse was issued. This design continued until 1891 when a new $2 Silver Certificate was issued with a portrait of U.S. Treasury Secretary William Windom in the center of the obverse.
Two-dollar Treasury, or "Coin", Notes were first issued for government purchases of silver bullion in 1890 from the silver mining industry. The reverse featured large wording of TWO in the center and a numeral 2 to the right surrounded by an ornate design that occupied almost the entire note. In 1891, the reverse of the Series of 1890 Treasury Note was redesigned because the treasury felt that it was too "busy", making it too easy to counterfeit. More open space was incorporated into the new design.
In 1896, the "Educational Series" Silver Certificate was issued. The entire obverse of the note was covered in artwork with an allegorical figure of science presenting steam and electricity to commerce and manufacture. The reverse of the note featured portraits of Robert Fulton and Samuel F. B. Morse surrounded by an ornate design that occupied almost the entire note. By 1899, however, The $2 Silver Certificate was redesigned with a small portrait of George Washington surrounded by allegorical figures representing agriculture and mechanics.
Large-sized Federal Reserve Bank Notes were issued in 1918. Each note was an obligation of the issuing Federal Reserve Bank and could only be redeemed at the corresponding bank. The obverse of the note featured a borderless portrait of Thomas Jefferson to left and wording in the entire center. The reverse featured a World War I battleship.
Beginning in the 1950s, production of $2 bills began to decrease. The relative scarcity of the bills led some to start saving any they found, with the inevitable result that the notes became rarer in circulation. Currently, the circulation of $2 bills accounts for around 1% of the U.S. currency in circulation.
Small size notes
(6.14 × 2.61 in ≅ 156 × 66 mm)
In 1928, when all U.S. currency was changed to its current size, the $2 bill was issued only as a United States Note. The obverse featured a cropped version of Thomas Jefferson's portrait that had been on previous $2 bills. The reverse featured Jefferson's home, Monticello. The note's seal and serial numbers were red. The Series of 1928 $2 bill featured the treasury seal superimposed by the United States Note obligation to the left and a large gray TWO to the right.
In 1953, the $2 bill received minor design changes analogous to the $5 United States Note. The treasury seal was made smaller and moved to the right side of the bill; it was superimposed over the gray word TWO. The United States Note obligation now became superimposed over a gray numeral 2. The reverse remained unchanged.
The final change to $2 United States Notes came in 1963 when the motto IN GOD WE TRUST was added to the reverse over the Monticello. Further, because dollar bills were soon to be no longer redeemable in silver, WILL PAY TO THE BEARER ON DEMAND was removed from the obverse. Two-dollar bills, along with $5 and $100 United States Notes, were officially discontinued in August 1966, although they all remain legal tender.
On April 13, 1976, the Treasury Department reintroduced the $2 bill as a cost-saving measure. Series 1976 $2 bills were redesigned and issued as a Federal Reserve Note. The obverse design remains basically unchanged since 1928 and features the same portrait of Jefferson. A green treasury seal and serial numbers replace the red used on the previous United States Notes. Since the reissue of the bill coincided with the United States Bicentennial, it was decided to use a bicentennial-themed design on the reverse, though the bill was not issued specifically because of the bicenntenial. An engraved rendition (not an exact reproduction) of John Trumbull's Declaration of Independence replaced Monticello on the reverse. First-day issues of the new $2 bills could be taken to a post office and stamped with the date "APR 13 1976". In all, 590,720,000 notes from Series 1976 were printed.
Currently, stamped series 1976 $2 bills typically trade for about twice their face value. If the bills were stamped in a city with an unusual name, the value may be slightly higher. However, no first-day-issued 1976 $2 bills with stamps are especially rare or valuable.
Despite their age, crisp, uncirculated series 1976 $2 bills are not uncommon and are not particularly valuable. More than half a billion of these notes were printed and a large amount were saved and hoarded upon their original issue. A typical single uncirculated 1976 $2 bill is worth only slightly above face value. If the note is circulated, then it is only worth its $2 face value.
In 1996 and 1997, 153,600,000 bills were printed as Series 1995 for the Federal Reserve District of Atlanta. In 2004, 121,600,000 of the Series 2003 bills were printed for the Minneapolis Federal Reserve Bank. An issue of Series 2003A $2 bills was printed from July to September 2006 for all twelve Federal Reserve Banks. In all, 220,800,000 notes were printed.
In February 2012, the B.E.P. printed 512,000 Series 2009 $2 Star Notes, in anticipation of more regular runs being printed later in 2012. Series 2009 $2 bills were issued to banks during the summer of 2012.
In November 2013, the B.E.P. began printing series 2013 $2 bills for the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta; these notes entered circulation in early 2014. A total of 44,800,000 notes were ordered for fiscal year 2014, which ran from October 2013 through September 2014.
|Legal Tender Note||1862||Lucius E. Chittenden||F.E. Spinner||Small Red w/rays||Also called a "Greenback".|
|Legal Tender Note||1869||John Allison||F.E. Spinner||Large Red||Nicknamed: "Rainbow Note" from its|
red, white, and blue colors.
|Legal Tender Note||1874||John Allison||F.E. Spinner||Small Red w/rays|
|Legal Tender Note||1875||John Allison||New & Wyman||Small Red w/rays|
|Legal Tender Note||1878||Allison & Scofield||James Gilfillan||Small Red w/rays||Scofield/Gilfillan combo is scarce|
|Legal Tender Note||1880||Scofield, Bruce,
Rosecrans, and Tillman
|Gilfillan, Wyman, Huston,
Nebeker, and Morgan
Small Red scalloped
|Legal Tender Note||1917||Teehee, Elliott,
|John Burke & White||Small Red scalloped|
|National Bank Note||Original||Colby, Jeffries, and Allison||F.E. Spinner||Small Red w/rays||Jeffries/Spinner combo is very rare|
|National Bank Note||1875||Allison & Scofield||New, Wyman, and Gilfillan||Small Red scalloped||Nicknamed: "Lazy Deuce" along with|
the original series from the position
of the "2" on the note.
|Silver Certificate||1886||William S. Rosecrans||Jordan, Hyatt, and Huston||Large Brown/Red
Small Red scalloped
|Silver Certificate||1891||William S. Rosecrans||Benjamin Harrison||Large Red|
|Silver Certificate||1891||Rosecrans & Tillman||Nebecker & Morgan||Small Red scalloped|
|Silver Certificate||1896||Tillman & Bruce||Morgan & Roberts||Small Red w/rays||Part of the "Educational Series".|
|Silver Certificate||1899||Lyons, Vernon, Napier,
Parker, Teehee, Elliott,
|Roberts, Treat, McClung,
Thompson, Burke, and White
|Treasury Note||1890||William S. Rosecrans||Huston & Nebecker||Large Brown
& Small Red scalloped
|Treasury Note||1890||William S. Rosecrans||Benjamin Harrison||Large Red|
|Treasury Note||1891||Rosecrans, Tillman, and Bruce||Nebecker, Morgan, and Roberts||Small Red scalloped|
|Federal Reserve Bank Note||1918||Teehee & Elliott||John Burke||Blue||Nicknamed: "Battleship note" from|
the reverse design.
|Legal Tender Note||1928, 1928-A to G||Tate, Woods, Julian,
|Mellon, Mills, Morgenthau,
|Legal Tender Note||1953, 1953-A to C||Priest, Smith, Granahan||Humphrey, Anderson, Dillon||Red|
|Legal Tender Note||1963, 1963-A||Kathryn E. Granahan||Dillon & Fowler||Red|
|Federal Reserve Note||1976||Francine I. Neff||William E. Simon||Green|
|Federal Reserve Note||1995||Mary Ellen Withrow||Robert E. Rubin||Green|
|Federal Reserve Note||2003||Rosario Marin||John W. Snow||Green|
|Federal Reserve Note||2003-A||Anna Escobedo Cabral||John W. Snow||Green|
|Federal Reserve Note||2009||Rosa Gumataotao Rios||Timothy F. Geithner||Green|
|Federal Reserve Note||2013||Rosa Gumataotao Rios||Jack Lew||Green|
A chronological display of the American two-dollar bill.
Over five million $2 bills are entered into the database of the American currency-tracking website Where's George?. Because $2 bills are uncommon in daily use, their use can make a particular group of spenders visible. A documented case of using two-dollar bills to send a message to a community is the case of Geneva Steel and the communities in the surrounding Utah County. In 1989, Geneva Steel paid its employee bonuses in $2 bills. When the bills began to appear in different places, people recognized the importance of the company to the local economy.
Use of the two-dollar bill is also being suggested by some gun rights activists to show support for Second Amendment rights, particularly at stores that allow Open Carry or Concealed carry of weapons on their premises. Two-dollar notes have also seen increased usage in situations where tipping is encouraged, especially in gentlemen's clubs. This is due to the idea that tips will increase because of the ease of use of a single, higher-denomination bill as the lowest common note in use.
The use of the two-dollar bill is popular among fans and alumni of Clemson University, who often bring notes with them when traveling to university athletic events in other localities as a demonstration of their economic impact in an area. The idea was first popularized in 1977 when Georgia Tech had threatened no longer to play the Tigers in football and has since caught on as a token of fandom when traveling to other locations. Fans will often stamp an orange tiger paw (Clemson's logo) on the note as a sign of its origin.
During the 1930s, the $2 bill was often used at East Coast horse race tracks to make a bet. Because of the German and Jewish influence, the bill was locally known in parts of New Jersey as a "zwei-buck", and the upper right corner "2" was sometimes torn off to increase the luck.
The relative scarcity of the $2 bill in everyday circulation has led to confusion at points of sale, as well as overreaction and prosecution of the individual attempting to tender the bill.
In 2016, a 13-year-old girl in Texas was detained by police at Fort Bend Independent School District's Christa McAuliffe Middle School and prevented from eating lunch that day for attempting to use a $2 bill to pay for chicken nuggets in the school cafeteria.
Uncut currency sheets
Uncut currency sheets are available from the Bureau of Engraving and Printing. Some of the recent $2 uncut sheets from Series 1995 and Series 2003 have been collectibles as they come from special non-circulation printings. Most of the Series 1995 $2 uncut sheets had a higher suffix letter in the serial number than regular circulation $2 bills. Uncut $2 sheets from Series 2003 were printed for the Boston (A), New York (B), Atlanta (F), Chicago (G), Minneapolis (I), and Dallas (K) Federal Reserve Districts despite the fact that notes from the Minneapolis district were the only ones released for circulation. Uncut sheets of Series 2003A have also been produced, although in this case circulating currency for all districts has also been made. All two-dollar bills beginning with Series 1995 have been printed in the BEP facility in Fort Worth, Texas, (indicated by "FW" preceding the face plate number on the obverse of the note).
Uncut sheets of $2 bills are available in various sizes. A 32-subject sheet, which is the original-size sheet on which the notes are printed, is available. Other sheet sizes available have been cut from the original 32-subject sheet. These include half (16-note), quarter (8-note), and eighth (4-note) sheets for $2 bills. Uncut sheets are sold for more than their respective face values. Uncut sheets of large size notes (issued before 1928) also exist, but are extremely rare.
Steve Wozniak, a co-founder of Apple Inc., has been using $2 banknotes separated from 4-bill uncut sheets (glued together into pads), to surprise merchants and waiters; also, because of the notes' unusual appearance, he has been interviewed by a Secret Service agent.
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