History: The United States printed two dollar silver certificates for a very short period of time. The series years are 1886, 1891, 1896, and 1899. As you can tell from that listing, the 1899 $2 silver certificate that we are detailing here is the last design type used for the denomination. Generally speaking, 1899 two dollar bills are fairly common. Despite saying 1899, some of these bills were printed as late as the 1920s. So some 1899 $2 silver certificate aren’t quite as old as the series year would suggest. There are ten different signature combinations. You can determine the age of your bill (within a couple years) based on the signatures. This is what is known as a one year design type. None of the design elements were ever used on future series years.
Nickname: 1899 $2 silver certificates are most often called “mini-portholes” by collectors. This nickname is a bit confusing. The front of the bill has a portrait of George Washington. It looks like George Washington is observing the viewer from inside a ship’s porthole. The 1923 $5 silver certificate has a similar design with Abraham Lincoln and it is called a porthole note. I guess that nickname was claimed, so the 1899 $2 bill became the mini-porthole. The nickname is well known by collectors, but it is not used especially frequently.
Other Facts: It terms of portraiture on currency, no one really expects to see George Washington on a two dollar bill. In fact, the 1899 $2 silver certificate is the only bill of that denomination on which George Washington is pictured. He first appeared on one dollar bills in 1869, and he appeared on twenty dollar gold certificates starting in 1905. He got around. The design on this note is sometimes called the agriculture and mechanics layout. The male and female figures are supposed to represent those two industries.