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 Rare Vintage Antique Civil War Relic 1864 Two Cent Confederate Rebel Coin1865 Two (2) Cent Large Motto Pcgs Ms63 Rb - Original Mint Luster Still Present1865 Two Cent Piece, Very Nice! ** Free Shipping!1865 Civil War Era Two Cent Piece Xf * Free Shipping *Us 1864 Large Motto 2c Unc1864 Two Cent Piece, Large Motto, Super Nice Red Brown Gem, ** Free Shipping!1864 2 Cent Piece.1865 Two Cent Piece ** Free Shipping!1867 United States (2) Two Cent Piece ( Vf )Awesome 1867 Two Cents1872 2c Two Cent Piece Pcgs Pr66rb1872 Rare Key Date Us 2 Cent Coin Copper High Grade Collectors Coin 1800's1868 Us Red Two Cent Piece 2 Cents- Sharp Detail- Strong Motto- Beautiful Coin1864 Civil War Era Two Cent Piece Xf- * Free Shipping *1865 Two Cent Piece, Great Strike Definition, ** Free Shipping!1867 Two Cent Coin Free Shipping1868 2 Vf/xf Album!!1864 Two Cent Piece About Uncirculated1868 Two Cents Free Shipping!!1867 Two Cent Piece ** Free Shipping!1864 Two Cent Piece, Well Sought After, ** Free Shipping!1866 Two Cent Coin Free Shipping1865 Two Cent Coin 1864-1872 Two Cents Pieces (culls)** 1864 Two Cent Piece Full "we" Scarce Old Coin** 1864 United States (2) Two Cent Piece ( Vf Details )1864 Two Cents Free ShippingUs 1871 2c Vf(2) Two Cent Pieces 21864 U.s. 2 Cent Piece 2c 151 Years Old Philadelphia***no Reserve!1865 Two Cent Piece Plus Bonus 1936 Buffalo Nickel Starting Bid Just 1 Penny !!!1864 Two Cent Bronze Piece - Large Motto - Uncirculated - Proof LikeNice Old 1864 Us Civil War Two Cent Piece Sku #a5Awesome 1864 Two Cents1866 2c Bn1865 Two Cent Piece And An 1852 Three Cent Piece, Both With Issues1865 Two 2 Cent Piece1866 2c Bn1868 Two Cent Piece A Extremely Fine Coin** 1871 Two Cent Piece Scarce Old Coin** 1864 Two Cent Piece A Fine Coin1865 2 Cent - Nice Early Us Civil War Era Coin! Vg+ ConditionFantastic 1865 Two Cents1864 Large Motto Two Cent Coin Free Shipping1866 Two Cent Piece Old Us Coin You Grade It !!1864 Lm And 1866 Low Grade 2 Cent Piece Lot / 5 Coins / 4 1864 And 1 18661868 Two Cent- Scarce !! Extra Fine !! #y97261864 Two Cent, Extra Fine Details1869 Two Cent Piece - Good Condition - Problem Free1864 Two Cent Coin Free Shipping1865 2 Cent Coin-very Nice! No Reserve1864 Two Cent Piece Vf Details1864 2 Cent Coin. Large Motto. No Reserve. See Photos.1865 Plain 5 Two Cent Coin Free ShippingFantastic 1869 Two Cents1864 Two Cent- Scarce !! Fine !! #y97241864 Two Cent Piece A Nice Coin1865 Fancy 5 Two Cent Coin Free Shipping1865 Civil War Era Two Cent Piece Fine+ * Free Shipping *** 1864 & 1865 Two Cent Piece Scarce Old Coins**