The two cent piece was authorized by Congress on April 22, 1864 by the Coinage Act. Starved for coinage of any kind during the Civil War, Americans readily embraced the two cent piece when it first appearance in 1864. Hoarders and speculators joined by millions of frightened Americans had set aside every coin they could get causing a shortage. Mint officials reasoned that a two cent coin might help relieve the shortage. Acceptance and mintage levels both fell off dramatically after the war as coins that had been hoarded during the war began to reappear in circulation.
The two cent coin hold two distinctions, it was the first U.S. coin to have the
IN GOD WE TRUST on it. The second distinction was: It was and is the least
successful coin in U.S. history. Production of the coin started out with nearly 20
million coins and over a ten year period, dropped to 600 proofs. This was a gage
of its popularity. While all two-cent coins are of the same basic type, several
die varieties exist. The most important variation is the "Small Motto" and "Large
Motto" varieties of 1864 as seen it the example below.
The same law that eliminated the two cent coin in 1873 also did away with the half dime and the silver three-cent piece. During the late 1970's discussion of reviving the two cent coin was heard, but nothing came of it.
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