In 1862, the Federal Government began printing the very first paper bills which included the two-dollar bill. Paper money took a while to catch on, as coin was the preferred currency at the time. Considering that at the turn of the century most Americans were earning less than $15 per month, a $2 bill was a large bill at that time.
Even after inflation began to bring the value of paper money down, most people preferred to use coins. From 1929 to 1941, the country experienced the longest and deepest economic downturn to date, the Great Depression. During that time, most goods and services were less than a dollar, making paper currency impractical to use.
With declining use, the Federal Reserve stopped printing $2 bills in 1966. Ten years later, in 1976, the Federal Reserve brought back the $2-dollar bill with a new and beautiful picture depicting the presentation of the Declaration of Independence to the Continental Congress on the back of the bill. Thomas Jefferson was one of the men credited with penning the Declaration, therefore the image on the back of the new bill was very fitting. They thought the reprinting should increase the use and interest in the bill, but it had the opposite effect. Many Americans thought the newly designed bill, which was produced for the United States Bicentennial, was going to be a special printing; therefore, the bills were saved as collectors’ items – tucked away in safe deposit boxes, drawers, and keepsake boxes, for a hope of future value. My paternal grandmother gave me one an instructed me to save it, but I am sure I spent it shortly after, probably on comic books.
I did buy a sheet of uncut bills from the Treasury, which one day I will frame and install in my office. I also hoard them and have a stack in my safety deposit box.