The Exchange : Supporting WWII: Savings Bonds

Supporting WWII: Savings Bonds

Carlton "Fred" Schwan will be instructing multiple courses and mini-seminars at this year's ANA Summer Seminar. One of the mini-seminars he will be instructing is titled, "Alphabet Soup: Collecting Savings Bonds Series A-K." Schwan believes bonds are usually unappreciated as historic collectibles, but that may be changing before our very own eyes. Schwan's mini-seminar plans to teach students about each series, A-K, with a focus on World War II issues. The lack of appreciation for bonds as historical issues sparked my interest in blogging about bonds, in particular, war bonds from the WWII era.


The roots of WWII war bonds began in February of 1935 when President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed legislation that allowed the U.S. Department of Treasury to sell a new type of security called the U.S. Savings Bond. Thus, in March of 1935 the first series was issued, Series A, which was priced at about 75 percent of its value. Series B (1936), Series C (1938), and Series D (1941) followed.


When Japan bombed Pearl Harbor, forcing America to join the Allies in WWII, the U.S. government sought a way to finance the war. Just months after entering the war, Roosevelt announced another series, Series E. This new series was called the Defense savings bond - better known as war bonds. The first person to purchase a bond was Roosevelt himself on April 30, 1942; the following day the bonds were public. The bonds were virtually a loan to the government to help finance the war, but they were also an opportunity to remove money from circulation and reduce inflation.


The government wanted to make sure that everyone could help to finance the war, not just those who could afford war bonds. Hence, war stamps were introduced in 1942.


There were enormous advertising efforts to persuade Americans to purchase war bonds. The majority of the advertising used an emotional appeal to convince individuals it was morally right to have a financial stake in the war. War bond rallies occurred regularly, and celebrities endorsed the purchasing of the bonds. Celebrity endorsers included Lucille Ball, Judy Garland, Mikey Rooney, and many others. Sporting events held special games and matches in which the price of admission was a war bond.


In 194,4 Bob Montgomery and Beau Jack battled each each other in a lightweight world championship bout. The bout generated the largest amount of gate receipts in boxing history, totaling $36 million in war bonds. Artist Norman Rockwell's "Four Freedoms" painting also generated a large amount of war bonds sales, $130 million, when it toured department stores nationwide. Even schools raised money through small donations from students. Also, advertisements for war bonds were in comic strips, cartoons, movie theaters, and everywhere one looked.


As a result of effective advertising and support from millions of Americans willing to help their country financially, war bonds generated $185.7 billion by January of 1946. Even after the war, many Americans did not sell back their bonds; instead, many decided to purchase more. It was not until 1980 that the Series-E bond was eliminated when it was replaced with the Series-EE bond.


WWII savings bonds are just a small piece of the history associated with the United States bond system. That is why I would encourage anyone participating in this year's Summer Seminar to enroll in Schwan's mini-seminar; it will be taught on Sunday, June 23. For more information on registering for Schwan's mini-seminar and other educational opportunities at the 45th annual Summer Seminar, go to


War Bonds

(Schwan has taught several military numismatics and War Bonds courses over the years)

Written by Brandon Ortega at 00:00



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