Unlike the colorful bills of other countries, the United States has the same green bills for all values of it's currency, and there are a lot of different denominations: $1, $5, $10, $20, $50, and $100. But whatever happened to the $2 bill? It existed more famously at some point, but is a rare sight nowadays, although still legal to use. I still think it would be useful to have a $2 bill, so why aren't they ever used?
This isn't the only unique piece of American money. People who are lucky enough to have a silver dollar hold onto them for dear life. A silver dollar, which doesn't circulate anymore, is a coin (which is silver) that's worth the same amount of a one dollar bill (therefore, the name 'silver dollar'). These coins have been a problem ever since the US Mint started making them in the 1960's. When they began producing them, silver was growing in it's value, so the coins became much more valuable as a piece of silver than as US currency. The last minted silver dollars were made of 90% silver, and have a metal value of $11.44.
The two dollar bills, however, don't seem like they have a great amount of expensive metals within their bodies, so the question still remains: What happened to them?
Toms, as they are called because of President Thomas Jefferson who adorns them, were first created in 1862, and it was fairly common as paper money began to catch on. They were used steadily until the Great Depression, when most necessary products dropped below $1 because of the country's predicament. So the two dollar bill got off to somewhat of a rocky start- it was impractical for people at the time.
Even after the economy recovered, the $2 dollar bill became one of the more peculiar notes. "It became the the perfect note for some rather nefarious purposes. Politicians used to be known for bribing people for votes, and they would give them a $2 bill, so if you had one it meant that perhaps you’d been bribed by a politician. $2 is the standard bet at a race track, so if you were betting $2 and you won, you might get a bunch of $2 bills back and that would show that you were gambling," says producer and director John Bennardo of The $2 Bill Documentary. This specific note gathered a pretty bad reputation, and the value of the singles and $2 bills became closer together. As a result, the government cut the twos from the plan in 1966.
But the government would've been saving a lot of money by printing twos instead of ones. By simple math, they could produce half as many twos as they would ones and still have the same dollar amount. In 1976, the Treasury gave Toms the second chance that they deserved, and printed much less singles. As we imagined, they saved a lot of money, but the citizens saw the fancy new bills and thought they must be cherished and kept in keepsake boxes for new generations to see. They were considered a rare commodity, and therefore never prospered like they could have.
Today, the twos are still in circulation, but at a much smaller scale than the other notes. You can actually ask for them at any local bank!
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