$2 Dispatch: Revival

July 24, 2014

Revival: Click to enlarge

Location: Revival, New York, NY

Date: December 9, 2013

Transaction: Tipped for drinks with $2 bills and then purchased drinks with $2 bills

As usual, I wanted to see how a bartender would react to $2 bills. This one didn’t seem friendly, and I thought it was unlikely he’d bother reacting to the bill at all. I was right — at first. Then my buddy Stan Killian, excited about the challenge and about my $2 bill project, cooked up a plan to keep spending them there until something happened. And so we did. Here’s Stan’s take on it: 

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The seasoned bartender at this bar on East 15 St. seemed unmoved by the $2 bill we’d used. So we decided to keep giving him more of them.

Finally, after giving him his fifth (and final) $2 bill, I detected a slight tremble of the lower lip. So I asked, “Do you get $2 bills often?” He said, “Sometimes, but they’re a real pain in the ass,” and I could tell his mood was about to go south as he washed out the beer glasses. “The banks give us a hard time with these things,” he continued.

I explained the reason for giving him multiple $2 bills, the purpose of Heather’s $2 bill-themed website and the mission to increase the circulation of them. He smiled and changed his tone. “I actually keep two $2 bills in my wallet for good luck,” he said, and he showed them to me (above; click to enlarge). 

Suddenly at the far end of the bar, a half-drunk patron fired back, “No, they’re bad luck!” A two-minute debate proceeded surrounding the supernatural qualities of the $2 bill.

Andres Pascual, a good bartender who thinks the $2 bill is a pain in the ass, but keeps them in his wallet for good luck anyway, was friendly enough to pose for Two Buckaroo.

(Photo taken by Stan Killian…sorry about the flash.)

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$2 Dispatch: Botanica

July 18, 2014

Botanica: Click to enlarge

Location: Botanica, New York, NY

Date: December 4, 2014

Transaction: Paid for a drink with a $2 bill

When a bartender starts a conversation about a $2 bill I’ve just spent, I’m virtually guaranteed a friendly good time. In this case, I used one $2 bill among a few $1 bills to pay for a drink and tip while attending Mr. Fine Wine's weekly soul DJ set. 

Mark the bartender (above; click to enlarge): “Someone came in recently and paid for $12 worth of drinks with $2 bills.”

Me: “What did you do with them? Put them in the register?”

Mark: “No, my girlfriend’s friend traded me for them.”

He said that he and his friend think it would be easy to counterfeit the denomination since “no one sees $2 bills.” 

“I know they’re not part of the regular cycle of printing. Every 10 years…?” said Mark, starting with a perceived statement of fact and changing to total speculation. 

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O, Canada! A Note on Canada’s $2 Currencies

July 9, 2014


Hi! It’s been a while — I’ve been taking a brief summer intermission from this site because I went on an actual summer vacation. Guess where? Canada, land of the toonie — the wonderful $2 coin that has circulated in Canada ever since that country stopped printing paper $2 bills in 1996.

But despite 18 years of obscurity, Canadian $2 bills are still legal tender and are rumored to be seen in circulation from time to time. According to CBC News, around 109,271,483 of the notes had not been returned to the Bank of Canada as of 2006. Those notes are probably hoarded in cigar boxes under Canadians’ beds. Still, as with other things one strives to see in Canada (the moose, the red fox, the pile of abandoned lobster traps…), I wanted to see an old paper $2 note in its natural habitat.

Those of you in the United States who never see U.S. $2 bills might naturally wonder: What’s more likely to cross one’s path in a cash transaction — a U.S. $2 bill or a Canadian $2 bill (each in its respective country)? Well, I’m sad to report that I saw not one Canadian $2 note.

But there were plenty of toonies! In fact, I’m carrying one right now, and I’m going to continue doing so. Here it is: 


"The Two Dollar ‘Toonie’ is bi-metallic, having an outer ring of pure nickel, with a center made of a primarily copper alloy. The Loonies and Toonies circulate in Canada as if things had always been this way," writes one numismatist

Check out the photo of the charitable donation box (way above). I love its gimmick of requesting specifically toonies. I took the photo on Prince Edward Island in a little town called Summerside, where I have distant family roots. In retrospect, it’s weird and/or funny that I prioritized taking a photo of that toonie box over photos of the rest of the area, considering I made a point of going there. But as you might expect, I was pretty enthusiastic about the toonie. 


And now, let’s rise and listen to Canadian tenor Edward Patrick Johnson (1878-1959) singing “O Canada”: 


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$2 Dispatch: Kettle of Fish

June 18, 2014

Kettle of Fish: Click to enlarge

Location: Kettle of Fish, New York, NY

Date: December 3, 2013

Transaction: Paid for beers and tipped with $2 bills

I did something here that’s usually considered annoying — that is, spending multiple $2 bills at once (I had to! I was short on other denominations) — but the bartender didn’t have much of a reaction. Also, I couldn’t get his permission to take a photo of him with the $2 bills, as I like to do. But I did get his take on $2 bills in cash transactions at the bar where he works: 

“Every once in a while they pop up…they rear their heads. I like the twos,” he said with a smile. 


Odd Item of the Day: $2 Bill Toilet Seat

June 13, 2014

Well here’s something I wouldn’t mind getting intimate with in the privacy of my home on a daily basis. Someone in Urbandale, Iowa, is selling this novelty toilet seat: 




The underside of the seat cover is especially nice. 

"Unusual $2 bill and coin themed toilet seat. The toilet seat itself is an excellent quality resin, sturdy and well made…. $1 and coin themed seats are on ebay, but I have not seen a $2 version. Perfect gift for your favorite banker or investment analyst. $125"

Really? Something about that just doesn’t ring true. Any investment analysts out there? Is this the toilet seat you’ve been dying for? Does just the sight of it make you want to unbuckle your belt? Somehow, I just don’t think so. The only thing that says “banker or investment analyst” is the exorbitant $125 price. 


$2 Bill For Sale — Just $10,000!

June 11, 2014

Every day I come across listings of $2 bills for sale. Without fail, the listings — usually on eBay, Craigslist, or Amazon — are either ridiculous or shameful. (Ridiculous because they’re so off base about value; or shameful because they’re trying to take advantage of people’s lack of awareness about the worth of their own currency.)


The most ludicrous listing yet was posted yesterday. On Craigslist, some misguided fool in Rhode Island is trying to sell a U.S. $2 bill for $10,000. “I read online that they are worth the face value, but they are also the rarest occurrence is U.S. currency, so I refuse to sell it for the face value,” the listing says.

The seller describes the bill as “Trumbull’s two dollar bill,” as if that means anything. Do you know what that means? It means that it’s one of the most recently made $2 bills (1976 onward, featuring a version of John Trumbull’s Declaration of Independence on the reverse), and therefore the least valuable. Embarrassingly, the seller includes two photos of the bill, which appears to be a Series 2003A. In other words…the seller is completely ignorant of what a twenty-first-century $2 bill is worth. 

The comedy doesn’t end there. “I also have a really old ten dollar bill,” the listing says. Sigh. Laughing at clueless adults who should know better can be a dirty exercise, so I will instead choose to suspect that the currency seller has not yet hit puberty and is unaware that his/her listing is worthy of a top prize for absurdity.

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$2 Dispatch: Pet Boutique and Supplies Inc.

June 10, 2014

Pet Boutque and Supplies: Click to enlarge

Location: Pet Boutique and Supplies Inc., Park Slope, Brooklyn

Date: December 2, 2013

Transaction: Bought cat food with a $2 bill

Proprietor (above; click to enlarge): [Pausing in contemplation of the $2 bill in his hand] “Ohhh. I want to keep this.”

Other employee: “Yeah, they don’t circulate those anymore.”

The proprietor said he gets $2 bills in the store but not often. He remarked that this particular bill was in good shape so he’d keep it. Then he raved about $1 coins and how many he’s saved.

Back-of-store bonus! A batch of Persian kittens born 10 days earlier (click to enlarge):

Persian kittens: Click to enlarge

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Twos in the News

June 3, 2014

$2 Bills in the News

  • $1 bills are the mark of the beast, but $2 bills aren’t, claims a Catholic online forum. A member suggests that you start using $2 bills to avoid the devil. “The devil oversees everything we do when we pull out the dollar bill (a mark of the beast)…. I have come to the conclusion that the dollar bill is the only questionable form of physical currency currently in use in the USA.”
         But don’t worry — he has a solution! “Use two dollar bills (true legal tender, but rare, and some businesses are suspicious about it). 
    Two dollar bills have somewhat of a cult-like following — people collect them — and there is superstition surrounding them — they are viewed as ‘unlucky’ — to negate the unlucky dimension of the two dollar bill, it is proposed to TEAR OFF A CORNER OF THE BILL.”
         To my dismay, no one else on the message board has contributed to the discussion. Fingers crossed!
    (June 1, 2014)


  • A woman in Carlsbad, California, has earned a reputation as a $2 bill philanthropist: “Known around town as the ‘$2 bill lady,’ 85-year-old Ann Halford has an interesting way of rewarding success and achievements…. Whenever she stumbles upon a story of a child who has either accomplished something great or struggled through hardship, Halford sends the kid a brand new $2 bill in laminate with a motivational message…. Each bill Halford gives away has three notes marked with a black permanent marker on the front of the lamination. ‘You are special,’ is written in the center of the $2 bill, while a smiley face stares back on the right end of the bill.”
         Halford recently received a community-bestowed award for youth encouragement. 
    (May 30, 2014. Above photograph: Zack Ponce for the Current-Argus News)
  • A 1970s edition of Canada’s $2 bill has emerged as politically charged. As it turns out, the scene portrayed on the bill is based on a photograph (here) depicting Inuit families who were relocated by the Canadian government in the 1950s to harsh northern areas. The extreme climates in which they were forced to live resulted in “trauma” and even suicide. “The sad story is that we were basically human flagpoles, so the Canadian government could assert sovereignty over the high Arctic,” says a descendent of one man in the image.
         The Scenes of Canada series “was meant to instill pride and reflect Canadian settlements from sea to sea.”

    (May 6, 2014. Below image: CBC Radio / Bank of Canada / National Currency Collection)


  • A daughter’s schmaltzy ode to her parents’ tradition of sending $2 bills to her kids: “For whatever reason, the St. Augustine [Florida] area seems to have a large supply of $2 bills,” writes Erin DeRosa. But she tells her kids in spite of this: “You can’t spend that money. That money is special. You can’t walk into a store with a pile of two-dollar bills and pay for a toy. They will think you are crazy.”
         Really? In a region with a plentitude of $2 bills, it’s crazy to consider using them as money? “There have been a few lean weeks that I have needed gas money and had none, and those two-dollar bills have come to mind, but I dismiss the crazy notion.”
    (March 21, 2014)


$2 Dispatch: Saint Vitus Bar

June 2, 2014

Saint Vitus: Click to enlarge

Location: Saint Vitus Bar, Greenpoint, Brooklyn, NY

Date: December 1, 2013

Transaction: Bought a $2 raffle ticket with a $2 bill

When something costs precisely $2, it feels extra satisfying to hand over a $2 bill.

A friend’s band was playing a benefit rock show — with a lineup of songs exclusively by Queen — to raise funds for AIDS vaccine development. Raffle tickets cost $2 each. I bought one with a $2 bill. Perfect! The ladies seen here were tickled. I didn’t win. It didn’t matter. 


$2 Bills: How To Wear Them

May 27, 2014

Origami shirt: Click to enlargeOrigami shirt: Click to enlarge

Here’s an origami $2 bill shirt made for me by a friend I know from the world of professional Rock, Paper, Scissors. Here in Seattle, where I am right now, this particular friend received this $2 bill at his business in the University District recently; it was one of only two $2 bills he’s seen on the job in the years he’s worked there. This fine garment was a swell surprise. Thanks, mister.

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How easy would it be to get $2 bills from a bank in a city that’s not my own? Same as anywhere else in the U.S., I hoped. Today I went into a Chase branch in Capitol Hill and walked out with fifty $2 bills in no time flat. And they had even more of them on hand. A+! That isn’t something that happens very often in NYC, especially at a Chase bank.

Just go to a bank and ask for $2 bills, folks. Whenever people inquire about how I get them, this is the suggestion I give over…and over…and over. Easy as can be. If your bank doesn’t have them, it can order them for you. Just make sure someone agrees to call you when the order comes in so that another customer doesn’t lay claim to them first (which happened to me at Passover time, when, I learned, $2 bills are handed out to children…and I had to place my order again). 

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Back to the topic of $2 bill-themed garments. Here’s a holy trinity: knee socks, ladies’ roller derby, and $2 bills all rolled into one. I wish the product description acknowledged the $2 bill design and even hinted at an explanation for it. But as with other trinities, some things just can’t be explained (and maybe we’re better off that way).