The first two dollar notes were called United States Notes or “Legal Tenders”. They were issued by the Federal Government in 1862, featuring a portrait of the first Secretary of the Treasury, Alexander Hamilton. In 1869, Thomas Jefferson’s portrait started being used and the same portrait has continued to be used for all two dollar United States Notes and all two dollar Federal Reserve Notes. Monticello was first featured as the vignette on the back of the two dollar United States Note in 1928. Monticello was Thomas Jefferson’s estate in Virginia.
In 1976, in celebration of the United States bicentennial, a two dollar Federal Reserve Note was introduced. Thomas Jefferson’s portrait was still on the face but Monticello was replaced on the back by a vignette of the signing of the Declaration of Independence. This painting of the Declaration of Independence was painted by John Trumbull. The original portrayed forty-seven people, 42 of whom were signers out of the fifty-six on the Declaration of Independence. Because of a limited amount of space on the two dollar note, five of the forty-seven were left off. The most recent printing of the two dollar note was in 2003 and at this time there are no plans to redesign it.
The first one-hundred dollar notes were also called United States Notes or Legal Tenders. They were issued by the Federal Government in 1862 and they featured a vignette of an American eagle. Benjamin Franklin first had his portrait on the one hundred dollar note in 1914, the first series of these Federal Reserve Notes. The one hundred dollar note is the largest denomination of Federal Reserve Notes that are currently issued in the United States. The life span of a one hundred dollar Federal Reserve Note is 89 months on average. This is much longer than other denominations of currency since this is rarer and circulated less than they are.
In 1996, the one hundred dollar Federal Reserve Note featured large portraits, watermarks and color-shifting ink. The notes also included micro-printing, which is lettering so small that it is hard to replicate, on the front of the note. “USA 100” is written in the numbers located in the lower left corner and “United Sates of America” is in one line on the left lapel of Benjamin Franklin’s coat.
Since 1928, the vignette on the back of the one hundred dollar note has featured an engraving of Independence Hall, the former State House of Pennsylvania, in Philadelphia. Independence Hall is often called the birthplace of our Nation because inside is where the Declaration of Independence was signed and where the Constitution of the United States was drafted. It has been said that the man and women in front of the hall close to the building are embracing but there is no record of that. The hands on the clock on the hall are set to 4:10. There doesn’t seem to be any explanation as to why this time was chosen.