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The Value of 1953 $2 Bills: A Closer Look

If you’ve come across a $2 bill from over 70 years ago, you might be wondering if it holds any value. In this article, we will delve into the intricacies of the 1953 $2 bill value to give you a better understanding.

1953 $2 Bill Value Chart

Let’s start by looking at the different types of 1953 $2 bills and their respective values. The chart below provides a breakdown:

SeriesCirculated – Fine to Extremely FineUncirculated
1953 $2 Bill No Star Value$2.25-$2.50$12+
1953 $2 Bill Star Value$10-$15$90
1953A $2 Bill No Star Value$2.25-$5$12+
1953A $2 Bill Star Value$20-22$80
1953B $2 Bill No Star Value$2.75-$5.50$12+
1953B $2 Bill Star Value$15-$18$75
1953C $2 Bill No Star Value$3.50-$6.60$12+
1953C $2 Bill Star Value$15-$18$90

The History of the 1953 $2 Bill

1953 $2 Bill

The first Legal Tender $2 bills were authorized by Congress on February 25th, 1862. These bills were larger in size compared to the ones commonly used today and are referred to as “Large Size” notes by currency collectors.

Unlike earlier bills, these $2 notes couldn’t be exchanged for silver coins and were effectively a loan to the government. They featured a red seal.

By 1953, changes had been made to the bill. In 1869, the portrait of Alexander Hamilton, a Founding Father and the first Secretary of the US Treasury, was replaced with one of Thomas Jefferson. Additionally, the size of the bills was reduced in 1928 to the dimensions we’re familiar with today – 6.1 inches by 2.6 inches.

Although the changes remained in place for the 1953 bills, the red Treasury seal was moved from the left to the right side of the bill. It was also made smaller and printed on top of the word “TWO”, which was in gray.

Four different varieties of $2 bills were produced in 1953, known as the 1953, 1953A, 1953B, and 1953C series.

Notably, the motto “IN GOD WE TRUST” was not featured on the 1953 series but was added a decade later to all modern bills.

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During the 1950s, the production of $2 bills gradually declined, leading to their scarcity. People began hoarding the bills they received, which further reduced circulation. In 1966, production ceased altogether.

After a hiatus of ten years, $2 bills were reintroduced in 1976 as part of the bicentenary celebrations of US independence. The color of the Treasury seal was changed from red to green to commemorate the occasion. These bills are still in production today, featuring the green seal.

Despite their continued production, $2 bills have gained a reputation for being associated with gambling and prostitution, leading some to consider them as bad luck. Due to their infrequent use, attempting to pay with $2 notes can even cause confusion, as some may mistake them for counterfeits.

Features of the 1953 $2 Bill

The Obverse of the 1953 $2 Bill

The Obverse of the 1953 $2 Bill

The first Legal Tender Notes were issued in 1862, featuring the image of Alexander Hamilton. However, in 1869, the portrait was replaced with Thomas Jefferson’s likeness, which remains on modern $2 bills.

Thomas Jefferson gives the bill its most common nickname: the Tom. It is also sometimes referred to as the “Dirty Tom” due to its rumored association with paying prostitutes.

The engraving of Jefferson was done by Charles K. Burt, based on an earlier portrait by Gilbert Stuart.

The red Treasury seal appears on the right side of the bill, along with the red serial number.

Each of the four series has a different combination of signatures on the obverse. For the 1953 series, Ivy Baker Priest’s signature is on the left, while G. M. Humphrey’s is on the right.

The Reverse of the 1953 $2 Bill

The reverse of the 1953 $2 bill features an engraving of Monticello, the large estate in Charlottesville, Virginia, belonging to Thomas Jefferson. The artwork was created by the engraver Joachim Clarence Benzing.

Above the image, a banner displays the words “UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,” and the denomination “TWO DOLLARS” appears four times, with the word “TWO” repeated an additional four times. The digit “2” also appears on the left and right sides of the note.

Other Features of the 1953 $2 Bill

Contrary to popular belief, $2 bills are not made entirely of paper. The 1953 $2 bill is composed of a blend of 75% cotton and 25% linen.

The bill measures 6.1 inches by 2.6 inches, the same size as modern bills. However, this is significantly smaller than the initial Legal Tender $2 Notes, which measured 7.4 inches by 3.1 inches.

For a detailed examination of the features of the 1953 $2 bill, you can refer to this informative YouTube video from Treasure Town.

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1953 $2 Bill Value Guides

1953 $2 Bill Value

1953 $2 Bill

To determine the series of your $2 bill, look to the left of the red Treasury seal on the obverse (the side with Jefferson’s portrait). You will find the series number printed there in small letters. 1953 series bills are also signed by Ivy Baker Priest and Treasury Secretary G. M. Humphrey.

Next, identify whether your bill is a star or non-star type. Star bills have a star at the end of the serial number, indicating that they replaced defective bank notes. As a result, star bills are rarer and more valuable than non-star bills.

The value of your bill will also depend on its condition. A 1953 series $2 bill without a star in fine or extremely fine condition is worth around $2 to $3. In uncirculated condition, the same non-star bill can be worth upwards of $12. Uncirculated star bills, on the other hand, may fetch around $90.

These are general estimates, but to get a better idea of the value, it’s important to determine the grade of your bill. Bank notes are graded on a scale of 1 to 70, with 70 representing the finest condition. To receive a perfect grade, the note must show no signs of handling under 5 times magnification. The margins and registration must be centered perfectly, and there should be no evidence of processing to improve its condition.

The highest values are reserved for bills graded 65 and above. Non-star notes in this condition typically range from $15 for a note graded 65 to $150 for one graded 67. Star notes graded 65 may be valued at around $80, while those graded 67 can reach approximately $250. The finest quality 1953 $2 star notes discovered so far, graded 68, can be worth around $600 each.

Other features can influence value as well. Bills with interesting serial numbers or sequential serial numbers are highly sought after by collectors. In 2007, a crisp, uncirculated consecutive run of 20 star 1953 $2 bills sold at auction for $1,840.

1953A $2 Bill Value

1953A $2 Bill

The value range for circulated 1953A non-star $2 bills is slightly broader compared to the 1953 series. In fine or extremely fine condition, these bills can range from around $2 to $5. In uncirculated condition, their value starts around $12.

As with the 1953 series, star notes carry a premium. In fine or extremely fine condition, they can be worth around $20, while uncirculated examples start at approximately $80.

Collectors are usually willing to pay more for bills with interesting or sequential serial numbers. In 2007, a record-breaking price was paid for a pair of specimen $2 bills. One belonged to the 1953A series, and the other was from the 1953C series. Both notes had the same sequential serial number – H12345678G – and were sold together for a remarkable $12,925.

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1953B $2 Bill Value

1953B $2 Bill

The value pattern for 1953B $2 bills is similar to that of the other 1953 series bills.

Circulated non-star notes in fine or extremely fine condition are worth between $3 and $6. In uncirculated condition, their value starts at around $12.

Star notes carry their usual premium. In fine or extremely fine circulated condition, their value ranges from $15 to $18, and you can expect to pay at least $75 for an uncirculated example.

In 2008, an uncirculated non-star specimen note graded 67 PPQ (Premium Paper Quality) by independent currency experts the PCGS was sold at auction. With its sequential serial number, it fetched over $10,000 and was described as a “superb gem.”

1953C $2 Bill Value

1953C $2 Bill

Circulated 1953C non-star $2 bills in fine or extremely fine condition are worth between $3 and $7. In the same condition, star bills are valued around $18.

Uncirculated bills hold greater value. Non-star examples are worth at least $12 and potentially more, while uncirculated star bills are valued at a minimum of $90.

In 2009, an uncirculated non-star specimen bill graded 65PPQ by the PCGS went up for auction. With its sequential serial number, known as a “ladder” among collectors (H12345678G), it sold for over $2,000.

1953 $2 Bill Errors

1953 $2 Bill, Inverted Third Printing

In the case of one 1953 $2 bill, an error occurred during the third printing, resulting in all the elements being printed upside down. This bill should have been destroyed, but somehow it managed to go unnoticed. When it was auctioned in 2016, the bill, graded 58PPQ by the PCGS, sold for an astounding $10,280.

1953 $2 Bill, Obstruction and Foldover

Another 1953 $2 bill combines two distinct errors. Somewhere during the process, the bill became folded between the second and third printings, resulting in the right-hand serial number and Treasury seal being printed on the reverse side. Additionally, an obstruction on the obverse prevented the left-hand serial number from being fully visible, leaving only the first four digits intact. This bill, graded 58 by the PMG, was sold at auction in 2018 for $4,560.

For a detailed examination of these errors and more, you can refer to this informative YouTube video from Treasure Town.

FAQs

How much is a $2 bill from 1953 worth?

The value of a $2 bill from 1953 can vary based on several factors. The bill’s condition plays a significant role, with circulated bills in poor condition often worth no more than their face value. However, bills in fine condition or better carry a premium.

Star notes, indicated by a star after the serial number, are significantly more valuable than non-star notes. Uncirculated star bills typically start around $50, with the finest examples potentially reaching hundreds of dollars.

Bills in excellent condition with interesting serial numbers or errors can even reach thousands of dollars in value.

How much is a 1953 $2 bill with a red seal worth?

All 1953 $2 bills feature a red seal, meaning this characteristic does not impact their value. The Treasury seal was changed to green in 1976 to commemorate the 200th anniversary of American Independence.

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