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NNP Blog

Apr 20 2022

Loose Change for War Bonds

The Pearl Harbor attack in December 1941 induced a patriotic fervor to support the government in any way possible. For ordinary citizens, one way to do this was to purchase war bonds. The Treasury Secretary Press Releases series contains several accounts of this activity. Nellie Tayloe Ross, Mint Director, issued a press release on April 22, 1942, noting that 97% of the Mint workforce was acquiring war bonds via the voluntary payroll deduction plan. The investment was substantial – at the San Francisco Mint employees committed more than one-tenth of their salaries. The Treasury Department suggested that all citizens do likewise.

The early 1940s brought a coin shortage to the U.S. (not unlike the same phenomenon during the pandemic), and Mint Director Ross hit upon a two-fer, asking the public, on November 23, 1942, to scour their household depositories for loose change and to trade the coins for war bonds. She cited the case of a guard in the Mint Service who had done precisely the same thing and raised enough - $18.75 - to purchase a $25 bond (bonds matured after ten years).

On October 13, 1942, Ross went to the well again and tugged at the public heart strings with this press release: “A three-year old child turned in 1,875 pennies in the purchase of a War Bond, and … the little girl had 500 more pennies saved toward the next one. Mrs. Ross said she was gratified by the return of the coins to active duty, but she wished the youngster had purchased War Savings Stamps with the other 500.”

Link to U.S Treasury Press Releases on Newman Portal:

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