Russ Bega, an expert in coins and paper money, says he received about a dozen calls Wednesday after a story of a $2 bill worth almost $5,000 began circulating online.
Unfortunately, Bega had to inform all those who called that their bills were only worth $2.
“A lot of these stories, they get people’s hopes up and my staff and I call ourselves professional dream crushers,” Bega, of Harlan J. Berk Ltd., told the Sun-Times.
According to U.S. Currency Auctions, an uncirculated $2 bill from 1890 could be sold for over $4,500.
But Dave Coconate, of West Town Jewelry and Loan, said a bill like that is “ridiculously rare.”
Last summer, a more modern $2 bill from 2003 with a low serial number sold through Heritage Auction for $2,400.
“The vast majority of $2 bills are not worth anything,” Bega said. “They’re worth $2. Of course, there are expectations to the rule like that one.”
The reason that bill sold for that price was because it was “almost perfect,” according to Bega.
Coconate pointed out that on eBay right now, he could find $2 bills from 2003 listed for $4 and others for close to $1,000.
“It’s all just based on the rarity of the note and the condition of the note,” Coconate said.
There is an extremely rare $2 note from 1875 called the Lazy Deuce that can sell for a couple of thousand dollars in even the “rattiest of condition,” according to Bega.
But most people generally don’t have those, Bega said, adding when people come to the store, they have standard $2 bills.
In 1976, the U.S. changed the design of the $2 bill to feature the image of the signing of the declaration on the back. Before that, the back of the bill was an image of Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello.
When people call Bega for an estimate on a note, he begins by asking what’s on the back.
If it is an image of Monticello, Bega says there is a chance it could be worth a bit more, typically 10-25% higher than its face value.
There has not been any significant increase in value for $2 bills; overall, the currency market is pretty strong for collectors, Bega said, but common notes remain closer to face value.