A bill that is not printed anymore and is hard to find, though there are still some in circulation. Many young people don't realize that there is such a thing as a two dollar bill, and using one (or more) to purchase something with them as cashier can be amusing, as they get very confused. (There are stories floating around about people using them and others refusing to believe they are real)

Apparently you can get them at many banks if you ask for them specifically.

The US two dollar bill has Thomas Jefferson on the front, and the picture of the signing of the Declaration of Independence on the back. At one point, long ago, the back had a picture of Monticello, but I have never seen one of those.

If you ask at your local bank, chances are good that they'll have some, but you'll often get ones from 1976, as they printed up a big batch for the Bicentennial celebration. They stopped printing them for 30 years(!), although the low circulation meant that even the 30-year-old notes often look like new. They have since been re-issued in August of 1996, October of 2003, and lastly a larger printing of Series 2003A in 2006.

Part of the reason that two dollar bills are so rare is that in the 1950s they were a United States Note (as opposed to a Federal Reserve Note), and as such were not backed by the gold standard. There was a strict limit on how much money could be printed as United States Notes, and most of that money was printed as five dollar bills, leaving the two dollar bill a comparatively small run.

These are one of the more handsome US bills.

A cool thing about visiting Monticello is when you purchase a ticket, they give you your change in $2 bills. The bills are in mint condition. I have 5 of them, all from 1976. Something interesting: Where's George (www.wheresgeorge.com) has had 17,610 $2 bills entered at their site (as of 6/18/200), and it's one of the highest hit bills.

Two dollar bills are still very much in circulation. I know a guy who works for State Street Bank in Boston, MA, and has been trying to get into politics for years. In an effort to promote himself to his constituents he would stop by the vault and exhange thousands of dollars into two dollar bills and Eisenhower silver dollars. Every time he would pay for something he would use his unique currency and like magic the cashier and anyone around would start up a conversation. I'm not really sure how many votes this actually got him, but he sure met a lot of new people this way.

The two dollar bill has many oddities. The fact that it is near obsolete is only one of them. Here are a few of the rest:

1. The denomination.
By today's standards, in the USA, two dollars is an odd denomination. We're used to ones, fives, tens, etc. But a two? They're now a rarity to come across, so we look at them differently.

2. Bad luck?
For a while, two dollar bills were commonly used in voter payoffs and betting. These activities garnered a reputation of bad luck for the poor bills. This tradition is still held on to by some. To counteract the 'hex', these people tear a corner off of the deuces they come in contact with. For some reason, that's supposed to ward off the evil.

3. 'Whore note'.
That's right. Back before inflation made prices soar, two dollars was a good price for a bit of action. This ill repute lended itself to the nickname and to a stigma that lasted long after the price was out of date. This prostitution connection also has kept Jefferson from being on other denominations. He was considered for the Susan B. Anthony dollar, but this was one of the reasons that kept his face from being on it.

4. The artwork.
The etch work done on the bill is simply exquisite. It is an beautiful representation of "The Signing of the Declaration of Independence" by John Trumbull. But it is just that. A representation. It is not accurate. One of the key elements of original piece was the tension between Adams and Jefferson. This was shown by Jefferson's foot stepping on Adams'. A slight detail. But one that is missing from the two dollar bill.
Little Lost Star: here in Brazil it's the exact opposite: two-dollar bills are regarded as good luck tokens -- many people I know walk with a pet Jefferson in their wallets. Go figure.

As you would expect, obtaining those in a foreign country is much much harder, hence the rarity value is even greater than it is in the USA.

On February 16, 1996, Canada issued the last two dollar note, permanently replacing them with the two dollar coin (more commonly referred to as the toonie). The two dollar note had been a staple in Canadian currency for about 125 years, almost as long as Canada's been a country.

Since the inception of the Bank of Canada in 1935, there have been five separate series of two dollar bank notes released to the public. Each bill carries a unique serial number, the Canadian dollar value, and is signed by the current governor and deputy governor of the Bank of Canada. With the exception of the first 1935 series, all two dollar bank notes are similarly coloured with a reddish orange tint.

1935 Series

1937 Series

1954 Series

  • Colour: Black with red tint
  • Face: Portrait of Queen Elizabeth II
  • Back: Landscape from Richmond, Quebec
  • Serial: Two letters followed by seven digits
  • In 1957, the portrait of Queen Elizabeth II was modified due to the illusion of a Devil's Face in the highlights of her hair.

1974 Multi Coloured Issue

1986 Bird Series

  • Colour: Terra cotta with pastel colours in a rainbow pattern
  • Face: Portrait of Queen Elizabeth II
  • Back: American robin
  • Serial: Three letters followed by seven digits
  • Date of issue: September 2, 1986
  • The bird series introduced the use of machine-readable bar codes next to the serial number

Information on the history of this Canadian bank note taken from Paul Wallis' Canadian Paper Money website at www.cdnpapermoney.com

When I grew up in Alberta, Canada, two dollar bills were VERY rare. You might see one every few months. The most common explanation for this was that the bill's reputation had been destroyed in an election campaign in which a candidate/party had tried to buy people's votes using two dollar bills although one would also hear the "whore note" explanation from time to time.

Whatever the reason, two dollar bills were really hated by some people. An example:

I worked in a service station (synonymous with gas station, petrol station, gas bar, etc) when I was in high school. One day, I innocently gave a customer change using a two dollar bill. The customer was insulted big time. I ended up apologizing profusely and gave him a pair of one dollar bills instead.
Considering my personal experience with the scarcity of two dollar bills, I was more than a bit surprised when I travelled to Ontario for the first time at about 16 years of age. Two dollar bills were so common that they actually had a separate space for them in the cash registers! This may seem perfectly normal to those who grew up in Ontario and similar places but it really surprised me.

As indicated above, the Canadian two dollar bill was replaced by a two dollar coin in 1996. Unlike the bill, the two dollar coin (i.e. the "toonie") has proved to be quite popular in Alberta.

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