United States two-dollar bill
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|Width||6 9/64 inches ≅ 156 mm|
|Height||2 39/64 inches ≅ 66.3 mm|
|Weight||Approx. 1 g|
|Material used||75% cotton|
|Years of printing||1862–1966,|
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. A portrait of Thomas Jefferson, the third President of the United States (1801–09), 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 continued until 1966, when United States Notes were phased out and the $2 denomination discontinued until 1976 when it was reissued as a Federal Reserve Note with a new reverse design.
As a result of banking policies with businesses which have resulted in low production numbers due to lack of use, two-dollar bills do not circulate as well as other denominations of U.S. currency. 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 apparent scarcity of the $2 bill, in spite of its production figures, also means that large numbers of the notes are taken out of circulation and collected by people, who may believe the bill to be rarer than it actually is.
Because the two dollar bills printed by the Bureau of Engraving and Printing in 2019 will be enough currency to last for several years, the Federal Reserve Board did not order any more to be printed in 2020.
The denomination of two dollars was authorized under a congressional act, and first issued in March 1862. The denomination was continuously used until 1966; by this time the United States Note was the only remaining class of U.S. currency the two-dollar bill was assigned to. In August 1966, the Treasury Department discontinued production of the $2 and $5 denominations of United States Notes. While the $5 denomination had long been issued simultaneously as both a Federal Reserve Note and United States Note, the $2 denomination was not immediately reassigned to the Federal Reserve Note class of United States currency and was thus fully discontinued. The Treasury cited the two-dollar note's low use 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 that time. It was estimated that if two-dollar notes replaced approximately half of the one-dollar notes in circulation, the federal government would be able to save about $26 million in 1976 dollars ($117 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 notes are not printed as frequently in a new series as other denominations, which are produced according to demand. Most 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 notes are usually not handed out except upon specific request by the customer, and may require the teller to make a trip to the vault, or order the desired amount if none are present at the branch.
Printing $2 bills is twice as cost-effective for the government as printing $1 bills, since they both cost the same amount (5.5 cents) to manufacture, 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 often used for betting on horse racing, tips at strip clubs and for bribery when politicians wanted votes (though this is most likely urban legend), and so acquired a negative reputation. During World War II and later, Servicemen were frequently paid with $2 bills, and as a result the notes often saw use at canteens, post exchanges, USO clubs and commissaries. Many people erroneously believe that the 1976 series note with its unusual reverse design was a special, limited issue, produced for the United States Bicentennial; this, combined with the earlier discontinuation of the denomination, gave the impression these notes might be valuable as collector's items, and contributed to hoarding. Today, the general public is still largely unfamiliar with the notes because they are not widely circulated and continue to be frequently hoarded.
There remains a common misconception that the $2 bill is no longer being produced, though bills have been printed with series dates of 1976, 1995, 2003, 2003A, 2009, 2013 and 2017A. 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" or "enhanced" two-dollar bills, commemorating America's national parks and other places, people and events, have been made and sold by coin dealers and others in recent years merely by adding color, special graphics or color printed plastic overlays onto regular issue two-dollar bills by using computer printers. The creators and marketers of many of these bills unscrupulously imply that they are authorized or issued by the federal government; however, no "collectible" or "enhanced" two-dollar bills have been authorized by the United States Treasury, the Bureau of Engraving and Printing (BEP) nor any other government agency and have no value above their $2 face 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, different from the familiar portrait in use on the small-sized $10 bill since 1928.
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 large sideways '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.
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. As with all United States Notes the treasury 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.
Beginning in the 1950s, production of $2 bills began to decrease. The relative scarcity of the notes led some to start saving any they received, with the inevitable result that the bills became less common in circulation.
In 1953, the $2 bill, along with the $5 United States Note, received minor design changes. 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 silver certificates were soon to be no longer redeemable in silver, WILL PAY TO THE BEARER ON DEMAND was removed from the obverse. In August 1966, the $2 and $5 denominations of United States Notes were officially discontinued, though they both remain legal tender.
On November 3, 1975, Secretary of the Treasury William E. Simon announced the reissuance of the $2 note as a cost-saving measure; the new $2 notes would be available from banks on April 13, 1976, Thomas Jefferson's birthday. Series 1976 $2 bills were partially redesigned and reissued as a Federal Reserve Note. The note retains the same portrait of Jefferson, and the basic design of the obverse remains unchanged since 1928. The treasury seal and serial numbers are printed in green ink, replacing the red used on the previous United States Note. Since the reintroduction of the note coincided with the United States Bicentennial, it was decided to use a bicentennial-themed design on the reverse. The bill was not issued specifically to celebrate the bicenntenial, as is widely assumed. 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 notes 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 postage stamps are especially rare or valuable.
Despite their age, crisp, uncirculated Series 1976 $2 notes are not uncommon and are not particularly valuable. More than half a billion series 1976 $2 notes were printed and a very large number were saved and hoarded upon their original issue. A typical, single uncirculated 1976 $2 bill is worth only slightly above $2 face value. An average circulated Series 1976 note has no additional value above its $2 face.
In 1996 and 1997, 153,600,000 bills were printed as Series 1995 for the Federal Reserve District of Atlanta. Beginning with Series 1995, all $2 notes have been produced at the Western Currency Facility in Fort Worth, Texas. In 2004, 121,600,000 of the Series 2003 bills were printed for the Federal Reserve District of Minneapolis. 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 BEP 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 autumn of 2012.
In November 2013, the BEP began printing Series 2013 $2 notes 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. Series 2017A $2 notes were first issued to banks in December 2019.
Currently, the circulation of $2 bills accounts for around 1% of the U.S. currency in circulation.
|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||Tate||Mellon||Red|
|Legal Tender Note||1928A||Woods||Mellon||Red|
|Legal Tender Note||1928B||Woods||Mills||Red|
|Legal Tender Note||1928C||Julian||Morgenthau||Red|
|Legal Tender Note||1928D||Julian||Morgenthau||Red|
|Legal Tender Note||1928E||Julian||Vinson||Red|
|Legal Tender Note||1928F||Julian||Snyder||Red|
|Legal Tender Note||1928G||Clark||Snyder||Red|
|Legal Tender Note||1953||Priest||Humphrey||Red|
|Legal Tender Note||1953A||Priest||Anderson||Red|
|Legal Tender Note||1953B||Smith||Dillon||Red|
|Legal Tender Note||1953C||Granahan||Dillon||Red|
|Legal Tender Note||1963||Granahan||Dillon||Red|
|Legal Tender Note||1963A||Granahan||Fowler||Red|
|Federal Reserve Note||1976||Neff||Simon||Green|
|Federal Reserve Note||1995||Withrow||Rubin||Green|
|Federal Reserve Note||2003||Marin||Snow||Green|
|Federal Reserve Note||2003A||Cabral||Snow||Green|
|Federal Reserve Note||2009||Rios||Geithner||Green|
|Federal Reserve Note||2013||Rios||Lew||Green|
|Federal Reserve Note||2017A||Carranza||Mnuchin||Green|
A chronological display of the American two-dollar bill.
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 to 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.
In recent years, some individuals have become 'ambassadors' for the two-dollar bill in an effort to popularize its use in everyday transactions by using them as often as possible, adding large numbers of the notes into circulation in the process.
The relative scarcity of the $2 bill in everyday circulation has led to confusion at points of sale, as well as overreaction by merchants and even attempted prosecution of the individual trying 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 United States Note $2 bill to pay for her lunch in the school cafeteria. The bill, a red seal Series 1953, while still legal tender, was old enough that the school's counterfeit pen would not work on it, as the chemical properties of the paper used for United States currency prior to 1960 are such that a counterfeit pen is unable to prove whether or not it is genuine.
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. In late 1999, to celebrate the new millennium, a unique run of 9,999 Series 1995 $2 star notes were printed for all twelve Federal Reserve Banks; the initial printing of Series 1995 $2 notes for circulation was for the Atlanta district (F) only. 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; 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 twelve districts has also been made. All $2 notes 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 (sixteen-note), quarter (eight-note), and eighth (four-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.
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- Friedberg & Friedberg 2014, p. 98
- Friedberg & Friedberg 2014, p. 99
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