Doubling down on the $2 bill

Nicknames for popular paper currency are often based on the person whose face appears on the front: A $10 bill is a “Hamilton,” the $100 bill is a “Franklin” or a “Benjamin.”
Unless you spend a lot of time at the $2 betting window at a race track you probably don’t know who’s on the $2 bill, a denomination accounting for just 3 percent of currency in circulation.
In March 1862, the first $2 bill was issued as a Legal Tender Note (United States Note) with a portrait of Alexander Hamilton; the portrait of Hamilton used was a profile view and is not the same portrait used currently for the $10 bill.
By 1869, the $2 United States Note was redesigned with the now familiar portrait of Thomas Jefferson. 
Let’s agree the $2 bill, aka the “Tom,” is quite attractive.



Lovely, yet rare. The $2 bill is a victim of it’s specialness. 

Everyone who deals with American money—even people who dedicate very little thought to the matter—knows that $2 bills are something worth commenting on. They’re something worth commenting on because they aren’t seen very much. They aren’t seen very much because they aren’t printed very often. They aren’t printed very often because people are disinclined to use them. People are disinclined to use them because they are thought to be special—or sometimes even fake—because of how rare they are. 

Hoarding the bills is a problem, but the biggest barrier acceptance is that cash registers aren’t designed to receive/store $2 bills. The Tom will fade away unless we resolve to obtain and spend them.

I am joining the ranks of “Tom ambassadors,” a group of brave Americans trying to bring the $2 bill back into common use by…using it.

The movement has many enemies. TIME last year printed an anti-Tom op-ed. Also, there are active Tom hoarders participating in an insane savings system.

It will take time to resurrect the Tom. The $2 bill’s reputation reached an all-time low in 1966, when the Treasury decided to halt printing of the bills despite the fact they are a proven money saver:

Today, for example, it costs about 5 cents to make a dollar … and it costs the same amount to make a 2. Since the U.S. Bureau of Engraving and Printing presses upwards of 4 billion $1 bills a year, that adds up to a lot of … coin.

The Tom made a comeback ten years later as part of the 1976 Bicentennial celebration. Unfortunately, they were so attractive and “special,” people kept them instead of spending them. They continue to be printed, but not often spent.

While America will be a better country if people acquire and spend $2 bills, let’s be clear: If you are paying a premium for $2 bills, you’re doing it wrong.


You can get tons of Toms, AT FACE VALUE, at your bank. Just walk in an ask if they have any $2 bills, then buy them. If they don’t have any, ask them to order some for you.

If you need incentive, the producer of The $2 Bill Documentary has found Toms get a reaction, 

“If you start tipping waiters and waitresses and valets, they’re going to remember who you are and the next time you come in if you keep doing it, you’re going to get better service. This has been proven to me several times when I use them. It’s a way to get remembered, it’s a way to stand out.”

The key to success is to spend Toms. We can do this!

I thank you. Tom thanks you two too.

McBarronBlog Bonus:

A truly amazing $2 bill story

Trailer: The $2 Bill Documentary

Two Buckaroo – a blog focused on the Tom

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