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    

1864 2 Cent Piece Pcgs Certified Ms62bn Large Motto No ReservePcgs Ms62bn 1865-p 2 Cents.!!! Choice Unc, Nr.!!1871 Two Cent Piece, Super Pq Razor Sharp Strike Definition, ** Free Shipping!1864 Civil War Era Two Cent Piece Choice Au+++-uncirculated * Free Shipping *1872 Ngc Xf 40 Bn Brown 2c Two Cent Piece No ReserveOutstanding 1867 Two Cents1864 2¢ Au+~uncirculated Strong "we" Scarce Civil War High Grade Two Cents CoinNice 1864 Two Cent Piece, Civil War Era Coin.1864 Two Cent Piece Rb Unc *from Estate1864 Two Cent Piece, Tough Coin, ** Free Shipping!1865 Two Cent Piece Mint Uncirculated Ms Repunched Date Rpd Fs 2.5 Coin Lot #861868 Two Cent Piece! 14 Day Satisfaction GuaranteeFantastic 1865 Two Cents1864 Two Cent Piece. High Details Grade--no Reserve--1865 Two Cent Piece, Very Choice Strike Definition! ** Free Shipping!1864 Civil War Era Two Cent Piece Very High Grade7 Civil War Era Us Two Cent Coins 1864, 1865, And 18671864 Us Two Cent 2 Cent Piece- Full We Full Motto- Slightly Discolored But Nice2 Cent Pieces 1863, 1864, 1865, 1867, 1869 Lot Of 5 In Good Condition 1866 Two Cent Piece - Nice Color & Detail - Die Crack Right Arrow - Sharp Coin !1864 Red Two Cent Piece Ngc Ms 65 Fiery Red 2 Cent Coin ( Lrg Motto)1870 Two Cent Piece Rb *from Estate1870 Two Cent Piece......super Nice!................no Reserve!Lot Of 2 Cent Pieces 1864 1865 1868 All Fair Hole Fillers Free Shipping1864 Shield Two Cent--lovely Extra Fine1864 Two Cent Piece - Nice Color & Detail - 180 Deg Rotated Rev - Sharp Coin !!1871 Two Cent Piece - Nice Color & Detail - Very Nice Coin !!1864 With We Two Cent Piece From Big Collection** 1867 Two Cent Piece Scarce Old Coin** Uncirculated 1865 Two-cent Piece ~ No Reserve! ~ Free Shipping!1866 2 Cent Piece Xf1864 Vf 2--cent Piece Nice...99 Cent Start..nr1864 Two Cent Piece Us Coin1871 Two Cent Piece 2c Us Type Coin 2 Cents Circulated Copper Shield Coins1864 Two-cent 2c Coin With 180-degree Rotated Reverse. Circulated. Light Polish.** 1869 Two Cent Piece Scarce Old Coin** 1865 Two Cent Piece...................no Reserve! United States 1865 Two Cent Piece1867 Ms+++++ Two Cent Piece From Big Collection1871 Rare Key Ms+++ Two Cent Piece From Big Collection1864 Shield 2 Cents - Small Letters - Very Fine+ Rare!!1864 Two Cent Piece 2¢; Sharp Original Full Detail Large MottoTwo Cent Pieces (5) 1864, (1) 1865, (1) 18671864 Shield Two Cent--attractive Very Fine+(12 Pc) Lot Of Cull Two Cent Pieces 2c1865 Two Cent Piece ~ Kool Find!2. U.s.two Cent Pieces 1864 E.f. + A.u.1894 Large Motto 2 Cent Piece Fine+1864 Two Cent Piece And 1869 Shield Nickel Lot Of 2 Coins1809 Classic Head Half Cent (1809-1836 Only) Very Fine Details Copper CoinUs 1864 2 Cent Large Motto Xf/au Condition2. U.s.two Cent Pieces 1866-1867. A.u.+ UncirculatedOld Us Coin 1865 Obsolete Civil War Two Cent 2 C Shield Type CoinOld Us Coins 1865 Obsolete Civil War Two Cent 2 C Shield Type Piece1864 Two Cent Piece - Nice Color & Detail -obverse Rim Cuds - Nice Coin !!1871 Two Cent Piece Better Date! 14 Day Satisfaction Guarantee1867 Two Cent Piece~civil War Era~higher Grade~1866 Vf 2--cent Piece Nice...99 Cent Start..nr1870 Two Cent Piece (nice) Tuff Date -lifetime Collection.starts At .99 - Nr1865 Two Cent Piece G+