United States, 2 Dollars, 1776

By the time they broke with England, the thirteen American colonies had been issuing paper currency for nearly a century. Both they and the loose central government they set up under the Articles of Confederation to oversee matters of common concern would continue to do so throughout the War of Independence. The "national" paper went by the name of "Continental Currency." As its name suggests, it was issued by the Continental Congress.
The paper on which it was printed was of very high quality but was also very soft. Because the notes were often folded horizontally, they often developed top-to-bottom breaks at midpoint. Left to themselves, the two halves would eventually part company. Whether anyone would take just half a note in payment was unclear. That uncertainty led people to adopt all kinds of stratagems to keep notes intact or repair those that had torn apart.
But there was more to it than that. To many, this new money symbolized a new nation-it had to be repaired, kept afloat. Because if it were not, what would that say about the aspiring nation that had issued it? Various methods were devised to do the job. In the case of this two-dollar bill, someone expert with a needle and thread-perhaps a housewife, or a sailor-carefully sewed the two halves back together. That effort has now survived for more than two centuries.
Continental currency was printed by Benjamin Franklin's successors, Hall & Sellers. Franklin also suggested inspiring vignettes and mottoes for the notes. The face of the two-dollar bill bears an image of grain being flailed (separated from the chaff), with the motto, TRIBULATIO DITAT (Troubles make us stronger).
Object Name
paper money
Date made
Continental Congress
Physical Description
paper (overall material)
black ink (overall material)
thread (part material)
overall: 70 mm x 95 mm; 2 3/4 in x 3 3/4 in
Place Made
United States
ID Number
catalog number
accession number
catalog number
Coins, Currency and Medals
Legendary Coins
See more items in
Political History: National Numismatic Collection
Legendary Coins
Data Source
National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center
Credit Line
Publication title
Glossary of Coins and Currency Terms
Publication URL
Additional Media

Visitor Comments

Add a comment about this object

**Please read before submitting the form**

Have a comment or question about this object to share with the community? Please use the form below. Approved comments will appear on this page and may receive a museum response (but we can't promise). Please note that we generally cannot answer questions about your own artifacts or comment on their value, rarity, or collectibility.

Have a question about anything else, or would you prefer a personal response? Please visit our FAQ or contact page.

Personal information will not be shared or result in unsolicited e-mail. See our privacy policy.

Enter the characters shown in the image.