Hawaii War Emergency Notes

© Copyright 1995-2022, Clay Irving <clay@panix.com>

Hawaii War Emergency Notes

After the bombing of Pearl Harbor, the US had fears that Japan would overrun Hawaii. If this occurred, large sums of currency could be captured and used to fund their war effort. So, the US decided to issue the same $1 Silver Certificates, $5, $10 and $20 Federal Reserve Notes as used on the mainland, but with a brown seal and serial numbers and overprinted with the word "HAWAII" twice on the front and in large block letters on the back. Because these notes were distinctive, it would make it easy for the US to demonitize the notes if large amounts fell to the enemy. Later in the war, these notes were used in the US held Pacific Islands for the same reasons.

With this issue, military officials made the use of non-overprinted notes redundant and ordered all Hawaii residents to turn in unstamped notes for Hawaii-stamped notes by July 15, 1942. Starting from August 15, 1942, no other paper currency could be used except under special permission.

After the war, military officials were faced with a $200 million stockpile of US currency, and they opted to destroy all the recalled currency instead of overcoming the logistical problems of shipping the currency back to the mainland. At first, a local crematorium was pressed into service to burn the notes. To ensure complete destruction, a fine mesh was placed on the top of the smokestacks to catch and recirculate unburnt scraps of currency escaping the fire. Progress on the destruction was slow, and pressed with time, the bigger furnaces of the Aiea Sugar Mill (located on the shore of Pearl Harbor) were requisitioned to help burn the currency.

FR-2300 | KL-1609

Series 1935 A $1 Silver Certificate, Julian - Morgenthau, Plate# C4197/2777, S/N C00095529C, 35,052,000 printed

PCGS Very Choice New 64PPQ

FR-2302 | KL-1960

Series 1934 A $5 Federal Reserve Note, Hawaii Overprint, Julian - Morgenthau, San Francisco, Plate# I90/1501, S/N L69087615A

FR-2303 | KL-2258

Series 1934 A $10 Federal Reserve Note - War Emergency Issue, Hawaii Overprint, San Francisco, Julian - Morgenthau, Plate# I98/730, S/N L69020145A, 10,424,000 printed

PMG Choice About Uncirculated 58 EPQ

FR-2304 | KL-2323

Series 1934 C $20 Federal Reserve Note, Hawaii Overprint, San Francisco, Julian - Morgenthau, Plate# K34/323, S/N L88835080A