18 fun facts about the $2 bill
Believe it or not, $2 bills are seen in circulation so rarely that some people think they're counterfeit upon first encountering them.
This post comes from Len Penzo at partner blog Len Penzo dot Com.
At first I tried to pay with a credit card, but, for some reason, their machine was on the fritz, so I gave the kid the only money I had in my wallet -- a $20 bill. In return, he gave me a $2 bill and four pennies. I'm not kidding.
Talk about a numismatic nightmare.
Of course, the cashier tried to convince me that he had just handed over $2.04, but as far as I was concerned, he gave me the financial equivalent of two matchsticks and a ball of lint. If that.
After all, nobody spends $2 bills -- and everybody hates pennies.
The truth is, if you're like me and most other people, pennies typically get tossed into desk drawers or five-gallon pickle jars -- and sometimes even the trash -- never to be seen again.
As for $2 bills, because people rarely ever see them, they usually end up being tucked away in old dressers and other secret hiding places as souvenirs or, maybe, wondrous birthday and Christmas gifts for kids.
Of course, people rarely see them because nobody ever spends them. (Post continues below.)
Anyway, here are 18 facts you probably didn't know about all those $2 bills you're currently squirreling away for no good reason:
- Although Thomas Jefferson has been featured on the $2 bill since 1869, it was Alexander Hamilton's portrait that originally graced the front of the bill when it was introduced in 1862.
- Jefferson's home, Monticello, was first featured on the bill's reverse side in 1929. The Monticello gift shop reportedly now gives them out as change to encourage their circulation.
- In 1925, the U.S. government tried -- unsuccessfully -- to increase the popularity of the $2 bill by placing one in federal employee pay envelopes.
- After years of public indifference to the $2 bill, production was finally discontinued in 1966, only to be restarted as part of the U.S. Bicentennial celebration in 1976.
- The revised $2 bill from 1976 replaced Monticello with a depiction of John Trumbull's painting "Declaration of Independence."
- Industrious folks looking to create a moneymaking collectible had the new $2 bills postmarked by the U.S. Postal Service on their first day of issue (April 13, 1976).
- Unfortunately, so many of them did so that, even today, there are enough postmarked bills floating around to ensure they don't command much above the $2 bill's face value.
- As a general rule of thumb, if a $2 bill has a red Treasury seal and serial numbers, it's at least a somewhat valuable collectible. If the bill has a green Treasury seal and serial numbers, then it's probably not worth more than face value.
- Believe it or not, $2 bills are seen in circulation so rarely that some people think they're counterfeit upon first encountering them.
- In 2005, a Baltimore man was arrested and held in custody until Secret Service agents could verify that the 57 $2 bills he used to pay Best Buy for installing a radio-CD player in his son's car were genuine.
- Actually, it's a wonder we don't see $2 bills more often; as late as the turn of the 21st century, more than $1.1 billion worth of the bills were in circulation.
- For its part, the U.S. Bureau of Engraving and Printing continues to print $2 bills, including 230 million of them in 2006. Even so, $2 bills make up just 1% of all U.S. bills in circulation.
- In 1989, Geneva Steel in Provo, Utah, paid its employee bonuses with $2 bills to highlight the importance of the steel mill to the local economy. That fact became obvious after the rare bills began appearing in stores throughout the surrounding communities.
- Then again, not every merchant is enamored with $2 bills. Over the years, there have been more than a few claims of businesses refusing to accept them as legal tender.
- According to the U.S. Treasury, merchants aren't legally obligated to accept $2 bills -- or bills of any other denomination. Yes, they have to accept U.S. dollars, but those dollars don't have to be in the form of coins and paper money.
- Legally, there is nothing stopping vendors from choosing to accept payment in U.S. dollars for goods and services only via credit cards or other electronic means.
- The next time you pay for something using a $2 bill, the odds are that the cashier will have to put it under the cash drawer. That's because most businesses prefer to use the register's five bill slots for ones, fives, 10s, 20s, and checks or coupons.
- Speaking of spare change, for quite a while now strip clubs have been including $2 bills in their customers' change whenever possible to help increase tip income for their dancers. Well, at least that's what I've been told.
More on Len Penzo dot Com and MSN Money:
I enjoy "odd" money like $2 bills, Eisenhower dollars and the Sacajawea dollars. Really confuses Gen Y clerks, you'd think I was trying to pass off money from Europe or Australia. Funny to watch their flustered reactions.
There are tens of millions of US $2 bills in southeast Asia. They are very popular there for several reasons: in Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam, Thomas Jefferson is a revered political figure, the personification of democratic political thought.
In Khmer society, it is thought that "a household that possesses a US $2 bill can never go broke."
A Cambodian told me once that of all the sights to see in Washington, D.C., the one she would most want to visit was the Jefferson Memorial, because "that is the place that Americans go to protest against their goverment, and the police cannot shoot you."
Their reverence for Jefferson does not seem to extend to coins, however--I do NOT recommend you attempt to tip in Phnom Penh with a NICKEL!
I frequently(every other payday) request either a "strap" (100 bills), or just whatever they have in the till.
They're fun to spend, give as tips, or just buy little items that are more than $1 (drinks, etc).
People always ask where I got them, and I tell them, "go to the bank and ask them, they usually have some on hand"
And they say Crane Paper Co doesnt have a few CongressPerps in their pocket.
I LOVE $2 bills.
Half dollar and dollar coins too.
I especially love Susan B. Anthony dollar coins!
Every pay check, the money I know I will spend in a physical store, I cash out as half dollar & dollar coins and $2 & $10 bills.
Years ago, when I had a retail job, there were never enough $10 bills available; I simply try to help out that problem with my small efforts.
I actually had a young girl checker at a Wal-Mart page a CSM and ask them if I was trying to pay her in play money when spending these.
My eldest son had to grab the counter to not fall over laughing!
The CSM simply rolled his eyes and assured her that the currency was indeed real.
I HATE the common ignorance about history and finance I see around the United States.
Be glad we are still using pennies as currency, otherwise the amount would have been rounded up to the nearest nickel.
Wow!! The $2 bill is popular with the ladies.
They fit nice in a G string.
At least that's the way I see it.
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