Pearl Harbor Commemorative Savings Bonds

United States Defense Savings Bond issued through the Caldwell National Bank of Caldwell, NJ on December 8, 1941. Defense Savings Bonds were replaced by War Savings Bonds in January 1942.

The United States began issuing small denomination savings bonds in 1936 with the introduction of the Series A Savings Bond. On May 1, 1941, Series E Savings Bonds were first issued as Defense Savings Bonds. After the US entered World War II in December 1941, the title of the bonds was changed from Defense Savings Bonds to War Savings Bonds.

Savings bonds served two important economic purposes during the war. The primary purpose was to provide money for the government to prosecute the war. The secondary purpose was to slow inflation by removing excess money from the economy. Full employment coupled with rationing and price controls for necessities would result in excess cash overhanging the economy.

As the war progressed, war bond sales also served as propaganda tools that rallied American sentiment at home for the war. The issuing agent’s stamp on a savings bond contains the full date the bond was purchased. This allowed for the creation of commemorative bonds for significant days throughout the war.

War Savings Bond issued on December 1, 1943 bearing the December 7, 1942 commemorative stamp from the Pearl Harbor Navy Yard. Frederick Schmidt, the purchaser of the bond, was in the tower at the Naval Air Station at Kaneohe Bay during the Japanese attack on Hawaii. He retired from the Navy on December 7, 1961.
Close up of the December 7, 1942 Commemorative stamp
used by the Pearl Harbor Naval Yard.

The United States Navy used the anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor to promote war bond sales by placing commemorative overprints on bonds sold at Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1942. Sales of the commemorative bonds were advertised throughout the country. Individuals on the mainland who wanted to purchase one of the special bonds sent payment to the Navy War Bond Office at Pearl Harbor.

Small size War Savings Bond issued on December 7, 1943 by the Third Naval District in NY with a Pearl Harbor commemorative issuing agency stamp.
Close up of the Pearl Harbor Day stamp from 1943 used by the Third Naval District in New York. The purple ink used for the stamp fades easily.

In subsequent years, the Navy held Pearl Harbor Day commemorations around the country at which special bonds were sold.

This bond was issued December 7, 1944 during the 6th War Loan Drive by the California Shipbuilding Corporation. Calship was located at Terminal Island and built 467 Liberty and Victory Ships during the war.

The Treasury Department allowed other events such as the Normandy Invasion and the end of the war to be commemorated on savings bonds. Examples of those will be shown in a future installment.

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