The Nefarious Past of the Two-Dollar Bill


– [Narrator] Open up your
wallet and you’d expect to find ones, 10s, 20s, and maybe even a hundo. The last thing you’d ever expect is a Tom, also known as a $2 bill. Here’s why: ♫ Let me show you the money It was 1862, the federal
government had just started printing its first paper money. The first and only denominations
were the $1 and $2 bills. And keep in mind, at the time, people were making about $15 a month. To pay using a $2 bill was a status symbol on the wealthiest of
Americans could afford, and a lot of the time they used them for under the table transactions
like political bribes, prostitutes, and gambling. The Tom ultimately got a bad
rap and was deemed unnecessary. In 1966, the government
took a 10-year hiatus and stopped printing those bad boys. But in 1976, the government
gave them another try, this time classing them up a bit, issuing a special bicentennial bill. A little too classy, some would argue. People began hiding them
away as collectors items, leading to less bills in circulation, which brings us to present day. Though rare, Toms are still being printed and there are over a
billion in circulation. Most people keep them as keepsakes, though there is a
sub-culture of $2 ambassadors who are set on keeping the
Tom alive by using them every chance they get. So, the next time you’re paying with cash, go ahead, use a Tom.

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