Paper Money

This Day in History: April 13

The $2 Federal Reserve Note debuted on April 13, 1976, to coincide with Thomas Jefferson’s 233rd birthday and celebrate the nation’s bicentennial.

Postally cancelled image courtesy of Heritage Auctions.

To celebrate America’s bicentennial, the Treasury Department revived a latent denomination of paper money.

The $2 denomination returned to cash registers, banks and pockets on April 13, 1976, the date chosen to coincide with President Thomas Jefferson’s 233rd birthday.

Jefferson appears on the face of the note and the back shows a scene from John Trumbull’s Signing of the Declaration of Independence.

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The 1976 version was the denomination's first appearance as a Federal Reserve note; previously the denomination had been issued as a United States note, the last release of Series 1963A. The back design was new, too; the United States note version depicts a scene of Monticello, Jefferson's home.

Officials hoped that widespread use of the denomination would revive coinciding with America’s fervent celebration of the nation’s Bicentennial of Independence, thus permitting a reduction in the number of $1 notes needed. However, that hoped for result never happened. 

While the $2 FRNs did not circulate as enthusiastically as Treasury officials had hoped, some collectors fell in love with a special form of the new $2 FRNs. Postally canceled $2 FRNs became a popular collectible (though that popularity was short-lived).  

Once collectors got their new $2 FRNs, many made a beeline to their local U.S. post office, applied a 13-cent United States flag stamp and had their notes postally canceled with the April 13, 1976, postmark (before the release, postal officials had granted permission to post offices to postally cancel the notes).  

Design features of all $2 Federal Reserve notes include a green Treasury seal and serial numbers, and a black Federal Reserve seal. The faces are printed in black and the backs in green. 

Since the Series 1976 $2 FRNs were introduced, the note has had no major design changes and no redesign is expected.

The $2 note has a dedicated, passionate following among regular individuals and famous people alike, including author James Altucher and inventor Steve Wozniak

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