Even if you mistakenly believe that the $2 bill is rare or out of print, you should recognize the back of the bill as being one of the more beautiful designs on any American currency. But did you know that the $2 bill is also known for many of the elaborate designs in its past? Hi I’m John, the director of the feature film The Two Dollar Bill Documentary, back with my latest video where I answer your questions about the $2 bill. Remember, if I use your question as the basis for a new video, I’ll send you a crisp new $2 bill. Just post your question in the Community section on my Channel page, under the appropriate heading. The questions don’t have to be very elaborate, and Mitch Besser gets the prize this time for asking… Well, there were plenty of beautiful ones. Let’s take a look. The first federally-issued $2 bill was released in 1862 and had a very elaborate design on the back. By my count, there are 88 number twos on the back of the 1862 bill, most of them comprising the rings around the Legal Tender notice. The next $2 bill issued – the 1869 Legal Tender Note – only contained one numeral 2 on the back, while it also appeared as a Roman Numeral and was spelled out 5 times. But the intricate patterns that comprised much of the design were similar to the 1862 issue, and that’s for good reason: They’re done to, basically ward out counterfeiting. The more complicated the design, the harder it is to replicate. Try counterfeiting this one, for example. This is the back of a number of $2 bills, ranging from 1874 to 1917. During the time this Legal Tender note was available, you could also get a $2 Silver Certificate. What’s a Silver Certificate, you ask? Well, whereas today’s currency is known as fiat currency, backed by nothing more than faith in government, silver certificates were backed by actual silver, mined in the west and minted by the US government. The Federal government has a big supply of silver, and base on the silver that it holds, the Federal government can issue notes that are backed by the silver. You could present the note to the bank and say, please give me silver in return for this note. Three of the Silver Certificates feature some of the more interesting designs you’ll find on the back of a $2 note. The 1886 Silver Certificate can be turned sideways to reveal a hidden ‘two’ in the lettering. The 1891 note may not seem as elaborate, but I found 20 number twos placed amongst the woven patterns. And check out this issue from the Educational Series of notes, issued in 1896. It featured two inventors – Robert Fulton and Samuel B Morse. The front of the bill wasn’t bad either. Beautiful bill here. This is actually a schoolteacher, and she’s embracing her students. And at the time, this particular note was considered very racy. They are objects of their time, and whatever art influences are out there at the time will tend to be reflected back into the currency. This is true of a National Bank Note issued in 1875, famous on the front for its “lazy deuce”, but noteworthy on the back because of several pictorials. The vignette at the center shows Sir Walter Raleigh displaying corn & tobacco after returning from England. People use these notes to show what was important to the country. Like Silver Certificates backed by silver, the United States also issued notes backed mostly by other forms of coin. These were also known as Treasury Notes. This bill from 1890 has to have the busiest design of any $2 bill’s back. The bill released a year later, in 1891, was far more simplified but still quite ornate in and of itself. Still, after nearly forty years of sophisticated artistry on the backs of these bills, opponents began to argue that the detail was so meticulous that it’d be tough to tell the difference between real and fake bills. After all, who would look that closely? So the 1899 Silver Certificate was scaled down to a simpler design, and by the time Federal Reserve Bank Notes were released in 1918, the designs included a photo and were simpler still. The $2 bill of this series featured a World War I battleship, one of the more popular notes around. This is very valuable for a number of reasons. First of all, very few survived. And, the size of the note was very attractive and it attracts a lot of people. So it’s very much in demand. A note like this might be worth as much as $3,000. In 1928, when these large-size bills were reduced to their current size, the back of the $2 bill was changed to Monticello, Thomas Jefferson’s home in Charlottesville, Virginia. Then the nation’s bicentennial in 1976 brought the final change, to the current painting by John Trumbull. I think it’s the most beautiful of the engravings, and it showcases the fantastic talent of the Bureau of Engraving & Printing engravers in being able to capture the essence of that original painting. Engravers can be commended for their work throughout the entire history of the two dollar bill, which is why it’s one of my favorite denominations of currency. Thanks for coming along with me on my tour of $2 bill backs. Be sure to subscribe to my channel and check out more great $2 bill content, a suggestion of which is appearing right next to me. Thanks for watching.