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    

1865 Two Cent Piece, Beautiful Mostly Red Solid Gem Bu++ ** Free Shipping!1864 Two Cent Piece, Doubled Date, Gorgeous Gem Bu++ ** Free Shipping!1864 Two Cent Piece Slightly Off-centered Strike1872 Two Cent Piece, Middle Grade, Scarce Key Date, Sharp, Original Looking 2c1864 Civil War Era Two Cent Piece Brown Almost Uncirculated * Us Coin *Lot Of (3) Higher Grade Two Cent Pieces 1864 1865 1867 Full We, Original Look 2c1865/1865 2 Cent Ngc Ms62bn Fs-301 Strong Doubled Date With Wide Shift North! 1869 Two Cent Piece Au DetailsOld Vintage Antique Civil War Relic Very Rare 1864 Two Cent Piece Limited Coin 1864 Small Motto Two Cent Piece, Middle Grade, Scarce, Problem Free, Original 2c1864 Lm Two Cent Piece XfNoblespirit No Reserve Excellent 1866 2 Cent Piece Xf/au!1865 2c Bn (two Cent Piece) Civil War Era Coinage1865 Two Cent Piece ** Free Shipping!1866 Two Cent Piece About Uncirculated1865 Two Cent Piece 1865 Two Cents Piece Very Choice About Uncirculated Brown Or Rb. Au+1864 Philadelphia Mint Copper Two Cent Coin Free ShippingLot Of (5) Better Date Two Cent Pieces 1866 1868 1869 1870 1871 Original Look 2c1871 2c Two Cent Piece Us Coin Key Date1864 Philadelphia Mint Copper Two Cent Coin Free Shipping1868 2c Two Cent Piece Us Coin 1864 Two Cents Coin - You Grade- Jg -092348Noblespirit No Reserve Excellent 1867 2 Cent Piece Vg!1864 Two Cent Piece - A Partial Motto Still Shows On The Ribbon1864 Two Cent Piece Large Motto Ngc Uncirculated Details1870 Philadelphia Mint Copper Two Cent Coin Free Shipping1868 Philadelphia Mint Copper Two Cent Coin Free Shipping1868 Two Cent Copper. Counter Stamped "r.h.crist". Auction!1864 2c Two Cent Piece Us Coin1870 2c Two Cent Piece Us Coin Key Date Rare1864 Two Cent Piece, Small Motto, Well Desired Key Date Variety, ** Free S/h!1867 Philadelphia Mint Copper Two Cent Coin Free Shipping1865 Copper Philadelphia Mint Two Cent Coin Free ShippingUs 2 Cent Piece Lot Of 8 Coins Various Conditions 1864, 1865, 1867, 1870 1865 Philadelphia Mint Copper Two Cent Coin Free Shipping1871 Two Cent Piece A Fine Coin1867 Two Cents Coin - You Grade- Jg -092354Noblespirit No Reserve Excellent 1865 2 Cent Piece Vg!1864 - 2 Cent Piece - Au1864 Two Cent Piece, Large Motto, Pcgs Au-581864 Two Cent Piece, Rotated Reverse, Tough & Desired Chocie Au++/unc Copper!1864 Philadelphia Mint Copper Two Cent Coin Free Shipping1864 Two-cent Piece (large Motto)1864 Two Cents Coin - You Grade- Jg -0923461866 Philadelphia Mint Copper Two Cent Coin Free Shipping1865 Two Cent Piece1867 Copper Philadelphia Mint Two Cent Coin Free Shipping1864 Copper Philadelphia Mint Two Cent Coin Free Shipping1867 Two (2) Cent Piece Great Deals From The Tecc Bargain BinNoblespirit No Reserve Excellent 1868 2 Cent Piece Vg!1865 Philadelphia Mint Copper Two Cent Coin Free Shipping1865 2 Cent Piece1870 Two Cents Coin - You Grade- Jg -0923551866 Copper Philadelphia Mint Two Cent Coin Free Shipping1864 Copper Philadelphia Mint Two Cent Coin Free ShippingNoblespirit No Reserve Excellent 1869 2 Cent Piece Vg!1867 Philadelphia Mint Copper Two Cent Coin Free Shipping1864 Copper Philadelphia Mint Two Cent Coin Free Shipping1866 Philadelphia Mint Copper Two Cent Coin Free Shipping