Two Cent Pieces
The US two cent denomination, first minted in 1864 during the turbulent times of the Civil War, was created to ease a shortage of small change. This bronze coin holds the distinction of being the first to bear the motto, "In God We Trust". This coin exited circulation in 1873, but remains a cherished artifact among numismatists today for its historical value and its unique status in American coinage. Explore L&C Coins’ wide variety of two cent pieces today and add one of these history-rich coins to your collection.
A Coin Worth Remembering: The History of the Two Cent Piece
The concept of a two cent denomination in the US started as early as 1806, but the design was shelved due to concerns that the original blanks could easily be mistaken for a common bronze button.
It was only in 1863 — following Mint Director James Pollock's recommendation to Secretary of the Treasury Salmon P. Chase — that the idea to use French bronze similar to the new small cent coin gained traction. In 1864, Chase championed the idea and presented the suggestion to Congress, leading to the approval of the two cent denomination in the Coinage Act of 1864, marking the birth of this special coin.
Prior to this coin, the half dime, a silver coin minted since the 1790s, was the closest equivalent in value, but its production ceased during the war due to the high demand for silver for other purposes.
Conceived by the skilled hands of Mint Engraver James Barton Longacre, the unique design of the two cent coin presents a sense of pride and patriotism. The obverse prominently showcases a shield with the stripes of the American flag, encircled by a magnificent laurel wreath and flanked by a pair of crossed arrows behind it.
Adding to its charm and historical significance, this coin was among the first to display the motto, “In God We Trust,” reflecting a religious revival sweeping the country at that time. This distinct design contributes to its enduring appeal among coin collectors.
Circulation and Availability
US two cent currency had a brief stint in history, minted for only ten years and ending in 1873. Though they technically began in 1863, these coins entered circulation a year later in 1864. The initial widespread circulation appeared primarily due to the coin shortage during the Civil War. After 1866, when standard denominations were reintroduced, the circulation of this coin drastically declined due to waning popularity in the public eye. Despite its short-lived presence, the two cent coin remains a significant artifact of American numismatics that reminds us of a bygone era.
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When were the US two-cent coins minted?
This US coin was minted between 1864 and 1873. It was introduced during the Civil War as the first coin to bear the motto, "In God We Trust," a direct reflection of the increased religious sentiment that was sweeping the nation at the time.
Are these coins valuable for collectors?
Yes, these coins can be quite valuable for coin collectors, especially when the coins are in excellent condition or from early minting years. Since it was only minted for about ten years, the coin's rarity and historical significance make it a desirable piece in any numismatic collection.
What material were the two cent pieces made of?
These coins were made of bronze, which is a blend of copper and tin. This metal composition was a change from the silver and gold that was favored for the creation of coins at that time.
Why was the two-cent coin first introduced?
These coins were first minted in 1864 during the Civil War to alleviate the shortage of small change. The initial release was delayed due to concerns that the bronze coin, an unusual metal choice at the time, could be mistaken for a common button.