Each year, the United States Treasury receives many letters from the public wondering why $2 bills are no longer in circulation. The answer? They are! The history of the $2 bill is rather long and inconsistent but interesting nonetheless. Decades have passed without any of these bills being printed, making it easy to see why some people might not even know they still exist in circulation.
In 1862, the first $2 bills began rolling off the presses. Alexander Hamilton was featured on the front until 1869, when it was redesigned to feature Thomas Jefferson instead. Soon afterwards people began referring to the $2 bill as a “Tom.”
As with most paper currency at this time, the $2 bill was a much larger size than we see today, measuring 89× 79 mm. In 1928 all United States Currency was changed to its current size.
The $2 bills issued in 1928 were called United States Notes, but still featured Thomas Jefferson on the obverse.
After the 1928 issues, $2 bills were not produced again until 1953. Because they were not the most popular bill in circulation, they printed fewer of them. This caused people to begin hoarding them, making them even more scarce!
In 1963, the words “In God We Trust” were added to the reverse, right above the image of Monticello. They continued to print this version until 1966 when it was discontinued.
On April 13, 1976, the $2 bill was reintroduced to help commemorate the country’s bicentennial and as a way to cut down on costs. The theory was that the Treasury could print half as many $1 bills by issuing them as $2 instead. This could have saved the Treasury $26 million at the time. In reality, a lot of people really liked the 1976 notes and chose to save them as collectors pieces as opposed to spending them.
Today, $2 bills are growing in popularity, although many people still see them as simply a collectors piece. This mindset has led to the $2 bill becoming the rarest current denomination of US Currency. Only 1% of US currency in circulation is the $2 bill.
Low circulation numbers have given the $2 bill another unique purpose. Bank tellers often place a $2 bill in their till, at the bottom of their stack of $1 bills. They keep the serial number of the $2 recorded, and should a robbery ever occur, they can use that serial number to track the suspect.
Although not the most popular of bills to spend, the $2 bill has certainly been popular to save and collect and has served several important purposes over the years. We have a large variety of $2 bills or “Toms” listed in our eBay store for you to peruse. Consider adding some to your collection today!