The Nefarious Past of the Two-Dollar Bil

The $2 has a sketchy past. Shortly after Independence, the Federal Reserve started printing money, but only issued coins at first due to Americans’ average salary of $15/month. Soon after the Reserve’s predominant use for the “Tom” (nicknamed for Thomas Jefferson’s image) was for gambling, bribes and prostitutes, so the bill got a bad rap.

During the United States Bicentennial in 1976, the reserve started to reproduce “Toms,” but made such beautiful bills that people didn’t want to spend them, thinking that they’d increase in value somewhere down the line. Today, the bills still exist, but comprise a fraction of all bills printed by the Federal Reserve. There are even $2 ambassadors, who visit banks to ensure that the “Toms” remain in circulation.

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