Two-cent pieces were first struck in 1864 to remedy the coin shortage caused by the Civil War. Like the Indian Head Cent produced in the same year, the two-cent piece was struck in bronze. The Mint had attempted to circulate two-cent pieces in 1806 and 1836 but both these attempts failed due to technical difficulties. The first circulated two-cent piece was designed by Mint Chief Engraver James Longacre. The obverse features a Union shield with two arrows crossed behind it, 'IN GOD WE TRUST' above it, and the year below it. The reverse design features the denomination within a wreath with the legend 'UNITED STATES OF AMERICA' around the edge. This was the first U.S. coin to display the motto 'IN GOD WE TRUST'.
In 1865, the three-cent nickel piece was introduced to circulation, generating less of a need for the two-cent pieces. In 1866, the five-cent nickel was introduced, further reducing the demand for two-cent pieces. Mintage of the two-cent piece steadily declined from the first year of production until the Coinage Act of 1873 discontinued the denomination.