United States two-dollar bill
|Weight||Approx. 1 g|
|Paper type||75% cotton
|Years of printing||1862–1966,
1976–present (Federal Reserve Note)
|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 a reproduction of the painting The 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, and Treasury or "Coin" Note. When U.S. currency was changed to its current size, the $2 bill was issued only as a United States Note. After production of United States Notes was discontinued in 1966, ten years passed before it was reissued as a Federal Reserve Note with a new reverse design. $2 bills are seldom seen in circulation as a result of banking policies with businesses. This comparative scarcity in circulation, coupled with a lack of public awareness that the bill is still in circulation, has also inspired urban legends and occasionally has created problems for people 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 1966 when the only class of U.S. currency it was then assigned to, United States Notes, began to be discontinued. The $2 bill initially was not reassigned to the Federal Reserve Note class of United States currency and was thus discontinued; the Treasury Department cited the $2 bill's low use and unpopularity as the reason for not 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 design on the back 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 ($108 million adjusted for inflation) over the period from 1976 to 1981, due to reduced production, storage, and shipping costs.
Due to its limited use, two-dollar bills are not frequently reissued in a new series like other denominations which are printed according to demand. Though some cash registers accommodate it, its slot is often used for things like checks and rolls of coins. Some bill acceptors found in vending machines, self checkout lanes, and other automated kiosks are configured to accommodate two-dollar bills, even if the fact is not stated on the label. Although they usually are not handed out arbitrarily, two-dollar bills are usually available at banks. Many banks stocking $2 bills will not use them except upon specific request by the customer, and even then, may cause a delay with a trip to the vault.
The "rarity" of a $2 bill can be attributed to its low printing numbers that sharply dropped beginning in the late 1950s when the $2 bill was a United States Note and recently the sporadic printings of still relatively low numbers as a Federal Reserve Note. Lack of public knowledge of the $2 bill further contributes to its rarity. This rarity can lead to a greater tendency to hoard any $2 bills encountered and thus further decrease their circulation.
Supplies of the Series 1976 $2 bill were allowed to dwindle until August 1996 when a new series dated 1995 finally began to be printed; this series, however, was only printed for the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta.
Until the late 1980s, $2 bills were quite common in Europe with military personnel. The money circulating outside the United States could not easily be taken out of circulation, so bills stayed in use much longer than intended, sometimes in very bad condition, even with pieces taped together.
Today, there is a common misconception by the public that the $2 bill is no longer in circulation. According to the Treasury, it "receives many letters asking why the $2 bill is no longer in circulation". In response, the Treasury stated: "The $2 bill remains one of our circulating currency denominations... As of April 30, 2007 there were $1,549,052,714 worth of $2 bills in circulation worldwide." However, in circulation does not necessarily mean that the notes are actively circulated, only that this is the amount that has not been redeemed for shredding. The Treasury states that the best way for the $2 bill to circulate is if businesses use them as they would any other denomination. In spite of this, many banks require that service businesses do not order or keep any regular quantity of $2 bills on hand, and will only take special order requests for large quantities of 100 bills or more. Some of these orders can take up to 1 week to fill. As a result, many businesses that might otherwise use the $2 bill choose not to.
Another misconception is that the $2 bill is worth more than its face value. "Collectible" $2 bills have been made and sold by coin dealers and others in recent years merely by adding special graphics with a computer printer. However, they are not authorized by the BEP and are not worth anything more than face value on the collectors' market.
Certain conventions and tourism/convention bureaus capitalize on the rarity 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. Variously 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.
Large size notes
(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 unlike the portrait used currently for the $10 bill.
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 went on 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" which would make 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.
The only large-sized, Federal Reserve Note–like $2 bill was issued in 1918 as a Federal Reserve Bank Note. 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 border-less 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. 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 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. And, because dollar bills were soon to no longer be redeemable in silver, WILL PAY TO THE BEARER ON DEMAND was removed from the obverse. These $2 bills were officially discontinued in August 1966.
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. An engraved rendition of John Trumbull's The 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.
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 12 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 runs from October 2013 through September 2014.
$2 Federal Reserve Notes have been issued bearing the following series dates and signature combinations:
- 1976 - Signatures of Francine I. Neff and William E. Simon
- 1995 - Signatures of Mary Ellen Withrow and Robert E. Rubin
- 2003 - Signatures of Rosario Marin and John W. Snow
- 2003A - Signatures of Anna Escobedo Cabral and John W. Snow
- 2009 - Signatures of Rosa Gumataotao Rios and Timothy F. Geithner
- 2013 - Signatures of Rosa Gumataotao Rios and Jack Lew
Over 3.2 million $2 bills are entered at the American currency-tracking Web site 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 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. After the sale of Bear-Stearns to JPMorgan for $2 per share, a two dollar bill was taped above the Bear-Stearns logo at its headquarters to highlight the low sale price.
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 strip 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.
For some people, holding or possessing a $2 bill is considered to be bad luck. How this superstition came about is unclear; however, it is not unusual to find people that will continue to voice their conviction that the $2 bill is unlucky. As a result, a subsequent belief is that the bad luck embedded within the note can be dispelled by tearing off a corner of the bill. Therefore, it is not unusual to find $2 bills in circulation with one or more corners missing from the currency.
The 564th Missile Squadron, an inactivated U.S. Air Force intercontinental ballistic missile unit at Malmstrom AFB, Montana, issued stamped two-dollar bills to unit members in the same manner as military challenge coins. The squadron employed the Minuteman II/Command Data Buffer weapon system, commonly called the "Deuce" system, hence the link to the two-dollar bill.
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 indeed 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 from Series 1995, 2003, 2003A, and 2009 have been printed in the BEP facility in Fort Worth, Texas.
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) do exist but are extremely rare.
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|Wikimedia Commons has media related to 2 United States dollar banknotes.|
- The U.S. Bureau of Engraving and Printing's website
- USAToday: "$2 bill increasing in use and shedding its 'play-money' image" 2006-11-06.
- The Two Dollar Bill project teaches Americans about the history of the $2 bill"