(WYTV) – The $2 bill is nicknamed the Tom, thanks to the portrait on it of our third president, Thomas Jefferson.
The modern $2 bill has the signing of the Declaration of Independence on the other side. It used to portray Jefferson’s home.
The government has been printing $2 since 1962 but the bill eventually developed a shady reputation.
Politicians used to bribe people for votes and they would give them a $2 bill. So if you had one, it meant maybe you’d been bribed.
Two dollars is the standard bet at a race track so if you were betting $2 and won, you might get a bunch of $2 bills back which would show you were gambling.
People didn’t see much use for it and in 1966, the government stopped printing it. Ten years went by with no $2.
In 1976, the treasury department decided to bring back the $2, a special bill for the country’s bicentennial, with a big picture of the signing of the Declaration of Independence on the back. The government printed 400 million of them.
The bicentennial bills turned out to be collector’s items and they vanished into dresser drawers. People just didn’t spend them.
Today, there are more than a billion in circulation and they are still being printed. You can get $2 bills at many banks — you just have to ask. They always get a reaction.
These days, the lifespan of a $1 bill is approximately 18 months, but a $2 bill lasts about six years because people generally put them away and don’t spend them.
Since fewer Toms need to be destroyed because they’re worn, fewer Toms are made.