By Mary Davis
Do you have one of these oddities tucked away in a drawer or box somewhere?
I remember when they came out in 1976. Or rather they were reissued in 1976.
I thought they were a new thing back then, but the $2 bill has a long history. A lot of people—myself included—believed these were for our country’s bicentennial. In actuality, it was to commemorate Thomas Jefferson’s birthday. Since it was the US Bicentennial, they put the signing of the Declaration of Independence on the reverse so it could serve two purposes.
Let’s roll back the clock nearly 250 years to the beginning of this misunderstood slip of paper.
When the Colonies were battling for independence in 1775, the Continental Congress issued $2 “bills of credit” to help finance the defense of what would become the United States. On May 10, 1775 these were released, making them older than our country.
They quickly lost their value due to the lack of solid backing and counterfeiting.
The next—and first official $2 bill—was printed in 1862. It was a legal tender note of a larger size (7.375” by 3.125”) than we currently have today. This bill featured Alexander Hamilton on the front and beautiful scrollwork on the reverse with the numeral 2. Because the backs of these were green, they came to be known as “greenbacks.”
The $2 bill remained this larger size until the smaller note (6.14” by 2.61”) was adopted for all US currency bills in 1928.
The $2 bill received various facelifts and renditions over the years.
The series 1890 depicts James McPherson, a US Army officer who served with Ulysses S. Grant during the Civil War at the Battle of Shiloh.
The series 1891 depicts William Windom, US Secretary of the Treasury.
The series 1896 (the “Educational series”) depicts a teacher and children on the front and on the reverse side Robert Fulton and Samuel Morse.
The series 1899 depicts George Washington, first US president.
The series 1928 depicts Thomas Jefferson on the front and Jefferson’s home, Monticello, on the reverse.
This little bill stayed in print until 1966 when it was discontinued. Then in 1976, it was brought back and is still a current denomination.
|Series 1976-Author Image
The series 1976 depicts Thomas Jefferson on the front, as before, for his birthday on April 13th—the bill’s release day—and, the signing of the Declaration of Independence replaced Monticello on the reverse.
Though still in print today and legal tender, people believe them to be rare—me included—because they are seldom seen. Others think they are counterfeit. In 2005, a man tried to pay for his purchase with some $2 bills. The store and local police believed that they were counterfeit, and the man was hauled off to jail. In another instance, occurring in 2016, a 13-year-old girl tried to buy her school lunch with one. The school thought it wasn’t real because it was an older bill (series 1953) before the counterfeit markers would work on it, and she was detained by the police. Both matters were quickly cleared up.
Most people don’t use them, and cash drawers don’t have a slot for them. So why does the government keep printing them? And they are still printing them every couple of years. One reason is because they want people to use this cheaper to print bill. If people would use one two instead of two ones, it would cost the government almost half as much to print them for the same purchasing power.
If you want to learn more about the $2 bill, here is a documentary about it. (Running time—1:40:53) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4b3TczZpC_Y
I just picked up a handful of crisp, brand new $2 bills at the bank to give my grandkids at Christmas. The teller smiled when I asked for them.
Do you have any of these tucked away in your house or wallet?
MRS. WITHERSPOON GOES TO WAR (Heroines of WWII series)
3rd Place 2023 SELAH Award
Margaret “Peggy” Witherspoon is a thirty-four-year-old widow, mother of two daughters, an excellent pilot, and very patriotic. She joins the WASP (Women Airforce Service Pilots). As she performs various tasks like ferry aircraft, transporting cargo, and being an airplane mechanic, she meets and develops feelings for her supervisor Army Air Corp Major Howie Berg. When Peggy learns of U.S. soldiers being held captive in Cuba, she, Major Berg, and two fellow WASPs devise an unsanctioned mission to rescue them. With Cuba being an ally in the war, they must be careful not to ignite an international incident. Order HERE!
MARY DAVIS, bestselling, award-winning novelist, has over thirty titles in both historical and contemporary themes. Her latest release is THE LADY’S MISSION. Her other novels include THE DÉBUTANTE'S SECRET (Quilting Circle Book 4) THE DAMSEL’S INTENT (The Quilting Circle Book 3) is a SELAH Award Winner. Some of her other recent titles include; THE WIDOW'S PLIGHT, THE DAUGHTER'S PREDICAMENT, “Zola’s Cross-Country Adventure” in The MISSAdventure Brides Collection, Prodigal Daughters Amish series, "Holly and Ivy" in A Bouquet of Brides Collection, and "Bygones" in Thimbles and Threads. She is a member of ACFW and active in critique groups.
Mary lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband of thirty-seven years and one cat. She has three adult children and three incredibly adorable grandchildren. Find her online at: Books2Read Newsletter Blog FB FB Readers Group Amazon GoodReads BookBub