Historic Hawaiian Greenbacks Now Worth Big Bucks

In 1942, the United States was worried about the Japanese invading Hawaii. After all, just months prior the Japanese Navy had surprised the U.S. with their infamous (albeit daring) attack on Pearl Harbor. Not only was the U.S. worried about an occupation, the Treasury Department worried that if a Japanese invasion occurred the Japanese could use Hawaii’s $200 million in currency to help them fight against the U.S.The Treasury Department devised a brilliant measure to safeguard the currency. All $1, $5, $10 and $20 bills were stamped with the word “Hawaii” on the front and back, along with a special brown U.S. Treasury seal. Unveiled in July 1942, all of the special currency came from the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco. The government then collected all of the older, unmarked currency and burned it all at the Oahu Cemetery and the Aiea Sugar Mill. While this unique precautionary measure officially ended on October 21, 1944, the special bills could still be found circulating around Hawaii until 1946. If you are lucky enough to come across one of these Hawaii stamped bills, know that these collector’s items can fetch prices of up to $100!  All content, unless otherwise noted, is created by and for Discover Hawaii News, a wholly owned subsidiary of Discover Hawaii Tours. © 2011

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