When I handed a $2 bill and some coins to a clerk the other day, she gave me a blank look and called for the manager. Neither one apparently was aware that the $2 bill is a spendable piece of American currency. April 13 links it to an important piece of American history.
The $2 bill got a lot of press when the Treasury introduced it into circulation on April 13, 1976 to commemorate America’s bicentennial, according to Old Currency Buyers. The special design still had a portrait of Thomas Jefferson on its face. However, a scene depicting the signing of the Declaration of Independence replaced a rendition of Monticello on the reverse side. The Treasury printed these bills for all 12 Federal Reserve banks.
The 1976 bills attracted a considerable amount of public attention because the occasion was the first time a single denomination of U.S. currency had been redesigned in quite a few years. Each bill bore the signature of Francine Neff as Treasurer of The United States and that of William E. Simon, Secretary of the Treasury.
The Bureau of Engraving and Printing says the most recent printing of the $2 bill bears a Series 2003 date. The Treasury has no plans to redesign the bill.
History of the $2 Bill
The Federal government issued the first $2 bills, known as “United States Notes” or “Legal Tenders,” in 1862. A portrait of Alexander Hamilton, the first Secretary of the Treasury, appeared on the front.
Thomas Jefferson’s likeness first made an appearance in 1869. The Treasury has continued to use the same likeness of him on subsequent bills.
Monticello first appeared on the reverse side of the currency designated the Series 1928 United Sates Note. The scene on the back of the current bill is an engraving of the painting “The Signing of the Declaration of Independence” by artist John Trumbull. The painting included 47 individuals, 42 of them signers of the Declaration of Independence. Due to size limitations on the $2 bill, the extra five men were dropped from the engraving.
Don’t get too excited if you find a $2 bill linked to 1976 in a dresser drawer. So many of them were saved, uncirculated, that packs of 100 trade for around twice their face value. A single uncirculated $2 bill from 1976 can net you around $2.50, unless it’s a rare one with a star after the serial number.
If your non-star $2 1976 bill has been circulated, you might as well just spend it, as I did, or save it for sentimental value.