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1864 Two Cent Piece with Small Motto IN GOD WE TRUST

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AC_Dwyer's items9 of 131843 $5 Gold Half Eagle from the S.S. New York Shipwreck1854 $20 Kellogg & Co., San Francisco, Double Eagle Gold Coin
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    Posted 10 years ago

    (13 items)

    This is definitely one of my favorite coins in my collection. It is an 1864 2-cent piece of the "small motto" variety. The new 2010 "shield reverse" Lincoln penny sort of reminds me of this coin. (See an image of 2010 shield penny at:

    Anyway, what I like about this coin is the history surrounding it.

    The 2-cent piece was one of the shortest lived denominations of any U.S. coin. It was introduced in 1864 and ceased being produced in 1873. Its introduction was at the height of the Civil War during a period of extreme coin shortages due to hoarding. The example shown here is from that first year of issue.

    Also, the 1864 2-cent piece is the first coin to bear the motto IN GOD WE TRUST. The motto apparently came about due to an increase in religious sentiment during the Civil War. In 1866 the motto was also added to the 5-cent nickel, quarter dollar, half dollar, dollar, $5 half eagle, $10 eagle, and $20 double eagle.

    In 1956, Congress finally passed a law making In God We Trust our national motto and in 1957 it was finally added to our paper currency.

    While none of the 2-cent pieces are considered a great rarity, the 1864 is actually the most common and available of all the dates. However, the "small motto" variety, like this example shown, is considerably rarer than its "large motto" counterpart.

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    1. covers covers, 10 years ago
      The timing of the April 22, 1864 Act authorizing this coin is less than a year after the post office established its first 2c postal rate for local mail and suggest a connection and demand for such a coin. The local rate was reduced to 1c for most post offices in late 1865 which also corresponds to the start of the demise of the 2c piece.
    2. potrero potrero, 10 years ago
      Apologies to Rodney Dangerfield and this humble two cent piece. Thanks to your suggestion we're now giving it the respect it deserves as its own category:
      (and have recategorized it for you). Thanks for posting this!
    3. AC_Dwyer AC_Dwyer, 10 years ago
      covers - That's a good point about the postal rate being 2 cents at the time. It seems logical that it would have something to do with the 2 cent coin finally being authorized by Congress.

      Another little known fact is that the 2 cent denomination actually goes further back. In 1806 and again in 1836, efforts were made to introduce a 2-cent coin but they failed. Perhaps the new postal rate is what finally allowed it to succeed, even if only for a short while.

      potrero - Thanks for making the 2-cent piece a little more respectable. Being such a small series to complete, I'm always surprised more people don't collect them.

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