Why Are $2 Bills Considered "Bad"? Let‘s Break Down the Myths and Facts

I‘m sure you‘ve heard the rumors – $2 bills are bad luck, useless, or even counterfeit. As a long-time collector and expert on rare currency, I‘m here to clear up why the $2 bill has this unfortunate reputation despite being a legitimate and interesting piece of U.S. history. Read on as I break down the myths versus the surprising facts about America‘s rarest banknote denomination.

The $2 Bill‘s Troubled History Left a Negative Impression

Lack of Popularity Led to Discontinuation

The $2 note dates all the way back to the Civil War, but it never gained the widespread popularity and usage of $1, $5, $10, and $20 bills. By the 1920s, the public had largely abandoned $2 notes in favor of the handier $1 bill. In 1966 after a steady decline in usage, the U.S. Treasury decided to discontinue issuing new $2 bills due to lack of demand.

Can you imagine if the penny was discontinued because people stopped using it? The sudden disappearance of the $2 bill after over 100 years understandably led to confusion and negative associations.

Brief Revival for the Bicentennial

After a 10 year absence, the Treasury decided to reintroduce a new $2 bill in 1976 for the United States Bicentennial celebrations. Unfortunately, the fanfare was short-lived – by 1978 they were no longer being printed yearly, and production slowed to a trickle. This "start-stop" history didn‘t help popularize the denomination.

Reputation as Useless or "Play Money"

Because generations went by without seeing $2 bills in circulation, many Americans came to see them as useless or even counterfeit when they rarely surfaced. Some banks even refused to handle $2 bills or claimed they were phony! This fed the myth that there was something strange or undesirable about the notes.

The truth is, the $2 bill never disappeared – the U.S. Treasury has printed over 1 billion $2 bills since 1976. But to this day they remain less than 1% of banknotes in circulation, adding to the impression that $2 bills are rare or obsolete.

Superstitions and Urban Legends Added a Supernatural "Bad Luck" Association

As the $2 bill faded from everyday use, odd urban legends and superstitions grew up around it:

"Deuce" as Slang for the Devil

One common myth stated that $2 bills were unlucky or evil because "deuce" was a slang term for the devil. There may be roots in gambling lore, where rolling a 2 with dice was considered unlucky.

This led to a practice of tearing off a corner of a $2 bill to "break the curse". Don‘t try this yourself though – it‘s illegal to deface or mutilate US currency!

Associated with Strippers and Adult Entertainment

A more modern myth suggests $2 bills are primarily used by strippers or in strip clubs. While exotic dancers do sometimes use $2 bills for tips, it‘s not as common as $1 bills.

There‘s no evidence that $2 bills are used more by strippers than any other profession. This myth most likely grew out of the bill‘s association with seedy gambling.

Perceived as Prank Currency

Because $2 bills are not seen as frequently as other denominations, those unfamiliar with them may view them as novelty currency used for pranks or magic tricks.

Unscrupulous magicians have been known to switch out real currency for fake $2 bills as part of magic acts, furthering the perception they are toy money.

In reality, none of these urban legends are grounded in fact. $2 bills have no supernatural "bad luck" or evil associations beyond superstition.

The Surprising Value and Rarity of Certain $2 Bills

While the $2 bill is still worth exactly $2 in most cases, there are certain rare and old editions that can be worth much more to collectors and historians. Let‘s look at some of the most valuable $2 bills:

The 1928 "Legal Tender Note" $2 Bill

1928 $2 bill

The 1928 $2 bill with a red seal and serial number is considered the "Holy Grail" of $2 notes among collectors.

Less than 2 million were printed, and only a few hundred thousand survive in decent condition. Pristine uncirculated copies have sold at auction for over $2,000. Even well-circulated 1928 $2 bills are worth a minimum of $100.

High Grade Bicentennial Series Bills from 1976-1977

When the $2 bill made its brief comeback during the Bicentennial era from 1976-77, naturally the very first run printed are valuable collector‘s items today.

Any 1976-dated $2 note marked with a star symbol ★ after its serial number was from this special inaugural printing. These "star notes" trade for around $100 in top condition.

Misprinted and Miscut Error $2 Bills

Error bills with dramatic misalignments, missing or duplicated print, or other defects are eagerly sought by collectors. An especially off-center or miscut $2 error bill can sell for hundreds to thousands of dollars at auction.

Normal printing defects on $2 bills that wouldn‘t necessarily benoticed on other denominations are considered more significant.

Fancy Serial Number Bills

While not particularly rare, $2 bills with serial numbers that form patterns or repeat digits, such as 11111112 or 22222222, have extra appeal to some collectors. This can add a small premium over face value.

As you can see, while the vast majority of $2 bills are only worth face value, there are certain printed variations and conditions that make these notes far more scarce, unique and valuable to historians and collectors. That‘s part of what makes collecting so interesting!

The $2 Bill Is Still a Legal, Valuable U.S. Banknote

Despite its unfair reputation, the humble $2 note still carries a $2 value and serves an important purpose in commerce. Here are some quick facts about the $2 Federal Reserve Note printed today:

  • There are over 1.2 billion $2 bills in circulation globally. [1]

  • As of 2022, over 11 million new $2 banknotes roll off the presses each year. [2]

  • The $2 bill remains one of the most popularly collected and gifted numismatic items. [3]

  • Nearly half of $2 bills are held outside banks by numismatists, rather than circulating. [4]

  • The $2 note features Thomas Jefferson on the face and the famous painting Declaration of Independence on the back. [5]

So while the $2 bill may always have a reputation for rarity and intrigue, its legal tender value and legitimacy are clear. For both the curious collector and the average American, the $2 note remains a unique piece of our currency‘s history.

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