The uncertainty of the U.S. Civil War disrupted everyday life in a number of ways. In the realm of money, people began hoarding coins: They thought that if the North lost, coins would be more likely to retain their value than paper money. To address the ensuing shortage of coins, in April 22, 1864, Congress authorized the U.S. Mint to begin producing a bronze two-cent piece, which would be made from the same alloy as the Indian Head penny.

The obverse of the two-cent coin featured a shield, with the year underneath it and the motto “In God We Trust” above it. In fact, this was the motto’s first appearance on American money, prompted by a rise in religious sentiment during the Civil War. After appearing on the 1864 two-cent coin, the motto was included on a variety of other coins in 1866. In 1956, Congress made it the official motto of the United States; in 1957, it was added to all American paper currency.

The two-cent piece had actually been proposed earlier in the century—in 1806 and again in 1836. Some speculate that third proposal succeeded because the Postal Service had recently set its local mail rate at two cents.

The first year’s two-cent coins actually came in two varieties, known today as small motto and large motto. As their names imply, the large motto coins have “In God We Trust” printed in larger type than the small motto coins. The small motto two-cent pieces are considered scarcer today than their counterparts.

The two-cent coin did not last long. With the rise of the nickel and the easing of coin hoarding, the two-cent coin fell out of popularity after the Civil War and was discontinued in 1873, making it one of the shortest-lived coins in American history.


Best of the Web (“Hall of Fame”)

Legendary Coins and Currency

Legendary Coins and Currency

This online exhibition from the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History is a great way to get an overview… [read review or visit site]

Society of U.S. Pattern Collectors

Society of U.S. Pattern Collectors

Home to the Society of U.S. Pattern collectors, this well-organized site provides in-depth information on pattern c… [read review or visit site]



Clubs & Associations

Other Great Reference Sites

Most watched eBay auctions    

1872 Two Cent Piece Pcgs Vf-35 1864 Pcgs Two Cent Piece, Large Motto, Pcgs Ms 63 Bn ** Very Nice! ** Free S/h! 1865 Two Cent Piece Counterstamped Hunt & Moore Brunk H-293 Rulau Mv-146 TokenOld Us Coins 1864 Obsolete Civil War Two Cent 2 C Shield Type Piece 1871 Two Cent Piece Very Rare Key Date Coin1870 Two Cent Piece ** Free Shipping!Outstanding 1865 Two CentsLot (13) Type Coins 1869 Two Cent Piece 2c 1853 Three Cent Silver 3c 1865 Nickel1865 Two Cent Piece Proof Pcgs Pf 63 Rare! C114 Red/brown1868 Two Cent Piece ** Free Shipping!1864 Civil War Era Two Cent Piece Vf-xf * Free Shipping *(8) Two Cent Coin Lot/2c / 2 Cent/1864, 1865, 1866, 167, 1868, 1869, 1870, 1871Group Of 10 Excellent Two Cents****1864 Two Cent Piece, Popular Date In The Series ** Free Shipping!Two Cent Piece......18641864 Two Cent Piece - Vf-xf - #50161864 Two Cent Piece........................no Reserve!1865 Two Cent Piece........................no Reserve!1864 2-cent Piece First Year Issue Two Cents Rare Type Coin Old Money 2c.Lot Of 2 Old - Two Cent Pieces + 1864 And 1866 + No Reserve!!1865 Two Cent Piece ** Very Nice! ** Free Shipping!1865 Two Cent Piece ** Free Shipping!Nicely Toned Estate Fresh 1867 U.s. Copper Two Cent Piece 2c Coin NrUsa Two Cents Flying Eagle Cent Indian Half Cent Early Classic Coins Scarce $$$1865 Civil War Copper Two Cent Piece ~~~~~~a Very Nice Coin ~~~~~~Lot Of 5 Two / 2 Cent Pieces / Coins 1864 & 1865 See Pics! B6371865 Two Cent Piece High Grade Nice Original Coin1866 Two Cent Piece High Grade Some Corrosion Still Nice CoinLot Of 4 Coins, 3 Two Cent 1864, 1866, 1867 & Iii Cent 18651864 Shield 2 Cents Piece Outstanding Uncirculated Red-brown1869 Two Cent Piece Near Uncirculated!!!!!1866 Us Two Cent .02c Piece- Bold Detail- Original Color - Better Date Full 'we'Rare 1865 Us Two Cent .02c Piece- Civil War Era- Fancy 5 Variety - Full We1864 2 Cent Piece Coin Unc Uncirculated Nice Civil War Coin1867 2c Rb About Uncirculated1864 1865 Two Piece Lot 2 Cents United States Coin No Reserve Lot Of 2 1864 Two Cents Coins**1864 Two Cents "we" Scarce Old Coin ** 1865 Two Cent Piece ~ Very Fine 1864 Two Cent Coin Free Shipping1871 2 Cent Piece Circulated Shows WellUs Coins 1864 Two Cent Piece About Uncirculated Or Better Nice Coin !!1866 Two Cent Coin (strong Die Crack Through Date)1871 Two Cent Piece - Low Mintage˜1864 U.s. 2 Two Cent Piece Civil War Era Type CoinLot 5 Coins Large 2 Cent Pieces Large Motto Collection Set1865 Two Cent Copper Piece Counterstamped Eagle U.s. Coin 2 Cents1864 Two Cent Coin Free Shipping1864 Two-cent Piece ** Copper 2 Cents Coin Antique Us Money Civil War Lot #72 Amazing 1864 2 Cent ~ Major Error ~ 180% Rotated Die ~ Civil War Coins LotsBulk Lot Of 3 Low Grade 2 Cent Coins Free S/h!!1866 Two Cent Coin / 2c / 2 Cent/ Check It Out!/ Very Fine (vf)/gorged On Revers1869 Shield Two Cents Counterstamped W/initials O.h.w. Full Date/rims $.99 Start1864 2-cent Piece ~ Double Mint Clip Error ~ Two Cents 2c Rare Coin Old Money #71864 - 2 Cent Piece - Civil War Year - Xf/au - Two Cent - 2c**1864 Two Cents Scarce Old Coin ** 1864 Us 2 Cent PieceFive Two Cent Pieces 1865 & 18651864 2 Cent Piece--civil War Coin