Received a $2 Bill

18-year-old Helena Muffly wrote exactly 100 years ago today: 

Saturday, April 19, 1913:  Did quite a lot today. Am a little tired. Ma gave me a two dollar bill.

Her middle-aged granddaughter’s comments 100 years later:

$2 bills from the late 1800s (I couldn't find any pictures for bills from the early 1900s.) (Source: Wikipedia)

$2 bills from the late 1800s (I couldn’t find any pictures of bills from the early 1900s.) (Source: Wikipedia)

The $2 bill was the third graduation gift Grandma received. The previous day she received a gold hat pin and a handkerchief. 

This diary entry raises more questions than answers for me.

Today we seldom see $2 bills—and they often seem special when we get one. Were they also unusual a hundred years ago—or were they readily available?

Why did Grandma say the gift was from her mother instead of from her parents? Why is her father so seldom mentioned in the diary? He was a farmer—and it seems like he should have been mentioned more often than he was.

40 Responses

  1. You have raised a great question about why your grandmother didn’t mentioned her father more often in her diary.

    • It almost seems like her father wasn’t very involved in the daily household activities–even though he would have been working on the farm.

  2. Your grandmother received some special gifts. Is it still customary to give gifts at graduation time? I am always impressed by the elegance and detail of the artwork on money. It will be sad if we become cashless societies. I suppose plastic money and micro chips have their own beauty but the chips are not so easy to see!

  3. in the early 1900’s a two dollar bill would have been a bake note, (not f issued by the government) issued by a bank and could only be cashed at the bank that issued it.

  4. That is odd that she doesn’t mention her father much…. So many questions with no answers!
    I remember when they began printing $2 again (not sure about the history before that). It was 1976, and when I cashed my paycheck the day before my (first) wedding, there was a $2 bill!

  5. It is so wonderful that you have your Grandmother’s diary and some insights of her life…and the mysteries! How nice to be reminded of a simpler time and of thoughtful gifts that didn’t have to cost a fortune.

  6. A two dollar bill for graduation? Maybe Ma had secreted it away just for that purpose? I remember my grandmother telling the story of how they had to sneak out to the movies during the depression (this was when she was married and had kids!) because her father-in-law who was living with them would yell about spending the nickel admission…Luckily they had a side door off the kitchen :-)

    • Your suggestion makes a lot of sense to me. Her father might have been very “tight” with the family’s money–but her mother managed to save a little so she could give it to her daughter as a gift.

  7. $2 in 1913 was worth about $35 by today’s standards. WOW! Grandma’s rich! The $2 bill was issued by the government starting in 1926 until 1963, then reissued in 1976.

  8. It is interesting to know the gifts she received. I bet the money from her mother was special.

  9. That many is a work of art, very pretty. We haven’t had two dollar bills in a long long time. It’s silly, they print coins instead of money for the $1 and $2…you’d think it’d be cheaper to make paper money than coins. Plus the coins weigh a ton in my purse. I miss the paper ones.

    • Do you have $2 coins in Canada? We have one dollar ones, but they don’t seem to be used much. $1 coins seem almost as unusual as $2 bills.:)

      • We actually have both a $1 coin called a Loonie and a $2 coin called a Toonie. Personally I call the $2 coin a doubloonie. As in double Loonie and pays homage to pirate days…ha. Then the $5 $10 $20 are bills and they’re weird looking too. Canadian money is very cartoonie LOL

        • When we visit Canada, one of the best parts is exchanging money and looking at yours! I’ve loved the loonies since I first saw them–and Doubloonie is great — I would think that name would really catch on.
          The Loonies look like pirate money. Make for fun spending HaHa

          • Hey thanks, have you seen the new $20’s…..they’re banana’s. They have a transparent part that you can see thru..LOL I guess it’s so they can’t be counterfeited. While the Giant Coins are a novelty, they make your purse heavier than heck HA.

  10. That is interesting about her not mentioning her father…could be since her mom would be teaching her how to take care of a home, she spent more time with her. I agree that the money from her mom could be just a special token between mother and daughter.

  11. They are very interesting questions Sheryl. I wonder if you will find any clues further along in the diary? Perhaps your grandma didn’t have a good relationship with her father. Did you know him? The $2 bill must have been quite a lot of money back then.

  12. I give my daughter two dollar bills and others give them to her as well. ‘
    They are such a Go To gift for kids.

  13. Maybe the strong farmer head of household was not required to co-sign gift cards. What an interesting post, and how little it took to please your Grandma with such gifts as a handkerchief!

  14. Maybe your Great Grandfather wasn’t mentioned often because as a farmer he would be out working all day. He could’ve been there, in the background, but it was your Great Grandmother who took care of things like gift giving and since she took care of the home, she was the presence mentioned in the diary..

  15. Hm…never thought of that…You’re making me wonder!
    So is she completely done with school now? Or does she still have a little longer to go? (“Now” as in “at the time the diary entry was written”. :-D )

  16. […] graduated from McEwensville High School on April 23. In April she wrote that her mother gave her a $2 gold piece. It’s surprising that her father gave a separate gift, and that it took him a month and a half to […]

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