I ran across a rarity the other day in my stack of change – a $2 bill.
Right up there with wheat pennies and bicentennial quarters, the $2 is quite the novelty when it comes to U.S. currency. In fact, my first impression is that I’m looking at a $1 bill that somehow looks different. Then, after that momentary lapse, I realize the truth.
It’s not Washington, but rather, his junior partner, Jefferson staring up at me.
I’d say, actually, I receive a wheat penny (that is to say, pennies made and circulated between 1909 and 1958 – with the bookend what stalks rather than the modern design featuring the Lincoln Memorial on the back) much more often than I see a $2.
In fact, as I think about it, I can’t tell you the last time I had a $2 bill before yesterday. Certainly I’ve seen many more “Where’s George” dollar bills since I last had a “Here’s Thomas!” That, of course, is a topic for another time. (Note to self - Might be a good one).
This rare occurrence did prompt me to read up a little about Jeffersonian currency. According to the U.S. Mint, the $2 represents about 1% of currency. Thomas Jefferson has been featured on the bill since 1869. The most recent design, which features the Signing of the Declaration of Independence, was printed in 2003. It is similar to the special issue that came out in 1976 in conjunction of the bicentennial.
I remember those - in fact the one I had today was from the “Class of ‘76” too!
In a way, I think most folks react the same way I do when they see a $2 bill. They’re not sure what to do with it. It’s not like you can send it through a vending machine. On the other hand, they’re not really collector’s items (the value of a modern $2 is…$2…or maybe a buck ninety-five with inflation). And, after all, $2 doesn’t go MUCH further than $1!
So, like most U.S. citizens, after I checked out my $2 for a minute, I put it back into circulation. After all, with so few of them floating around, I felt kind of guilty being a hoarder!