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    

Old Us Coins 1864 Choice Obsolete Civil War Two Cent 2 C Shield Type Piece 1871 2c Pcgs Pr64rb Rare Proof 2 Cent Piece1864 Large Motto 2-cent Piece, Pcgs Ms-62 Bn, Original (estatesale Is Now Dkrc)1864 Two Cent Piece, Popular Date In The Series ** Free Shipping!1864 Small Motto Copper 2-cent Piece, Pcgs G 4,original Key Date, Kb-besz1864 Two Cent Piece ** Free Shipping!3 Coins Us Two (2) Cent Copper 2 Cent Pieces 1864,1865 ,18661869 2 Cent Piece Nice AuLot Of (2) 2 Cent Coins 1864 And 1870 Rare Must Have See Photos Neat CoinsTwo Cent Pieces 1864, 1865, 1866, 1867, 1868, 1869, 1870, 18711865 Two Cent Piece*1864 Two-cent Piece Pcgs Genuine Env, Damage - Xf Details Lm Ddo Fs-11011864 Red Light Brown Bu Two Cents Piece 2 Cent Full Strike Hz1869 Two-cent Piece - Vf1864 Two Cent Piece Full Motto & Sharp Detail Civil War EraLot Of 5 Two 2 Cent Pieces 1866 1865Rare " Small Date" 1864 Two Cent Piece1864 Two Cent Piece*1864 ~ (two) 2 Cent Coins ~ Nr !1864 Civil War Copper Two Cent Piece ~~~~~~a Very Nice Coin ~~~~~~1864 U.s. 2 Cent Piece Civil War Large Motto ~ Beauty ~ Die Crack Reverse1865 Two Cent Coin Gem Uncirculated1869 Two Cent Piece - Re-cut Date*1865 Two Cents Nice Condition No Reserve!!!1864 Two Cent Piece - Shield - 2 Cp Coin - Bright W/ Great Detail Lot Of (8) 1865 2c Two Cent Pieces (civil War Dates) E351868 Two Cents Super Nice Condition No Reserve!!!1867 2 Cent Piece Xf Nice1864 Us Mint Two 2c Lg Motto Au55 Details Anacs Certified Coin ( Not Pcgs Ngc )1865 Fancy 5 Two Cent Anacs Ms-62 Beautiful Red/blue/purple Monster Toned!1867 2c Rb About Uncirculated1865 Two Cents Ms Rb Nice Detail 1864 Two Cent Piece Appealing Beautiful High Quality Scarce Tougher Date1869 2c Bn1865 Two Cent Piece *civil War Coin* - Valuable Like Gold & Silver -lot A955( 2 ) 1865 2 Cent Coins - Circulated - Ungraded - Our Lot # 51868 Two Cent Piece Full Strike Nice Detail Very Mild PorosityLot Of (7) 1864 2c Two Cent Pieces (civil War Dates) E36Sweet Genuine Civil War Era 1865 Us 2 Two Cent Piece Coin With No Reserve!Usa 1865 Rare/scarce Civil War Era Piece 1865 Two Cents Shield Coin1864 Two Cent Piece1865 Two Cets W From We Trust Is Visible1864 To 1872 (2-cent) Mix-lot Of 5 Coins 1864 Two Cent Coin1864 Two 2 Cent Small Motto Coin Great Condition Estate Collection Us Rare1869 Two Cent Piece - Vf1864 2 Cent.large Motto.private Collection.au 55.ncg.being Sold Off.1864 Nice High Grade "large Motto" Classic Shield Two Cents!!1871 Two Cent Coin / 2c / 2 Cent/ Check It Out!/# 164- Rare 1864 Two Cent Piece, 1998 U.s. Mint Proof Set1865 - 2 Cent Piece - Civil War Year - 2c - Xf/au Coin!! -scratched1865 Us Two Cent Coin 21866 Two Cent Piece*1869 Two Cent Copper Piece Old Rare Collectible Us Coin Vintage Currency Money 1864 Two Cent Piece Type 2c Large Motto ~ 1st Year Issue ~ Very Good VgUs 2 Cent 1869 - Lower Year1864 Two Cent Coin Free Shipping1864 Two Cent Piece Good Condition Rare Civil War Era Coin #8384 Glcw1864 Two Cent Coin! Rare Coin Type! Uncirculated Condition! Tc1551869 Two Cents 145-year Old Obsolete 1869 U.s. 2c Piece No Reserve! + Free Ship!