(This article first appeared in the September 2019 Cresthaven Stamp Club News)
Is there anyone who has not bought a saving bond in their lifetime or a war bond in granddad’s time or at least a piece of a bond? Pieces of a bond available for purchase were saving stamps. Since 1910 the US government has made available savings bonds for purchase, first through the USPO and later via the US Treasury Dept. The savings Bond idea had a number of philatelic activities related to it.
Let’s first look at some background.
Per Scott: “Savings Stamps” is a general philatelic category that includes four slightly different types of stamps issued at different times by either the USPO or US Treasury Department. Their common feature was that they all effectively acted as a means for ordinary citizens to save and/or invest incrementally, a little at a time, in what was really loans to the federal government. The four types of Saving Stamps are Postal Savings Stamps (issued from 1911-41) and Savings Stamps (1954-61), both issued by the Post Office Department; and War Savings Stamps (1917 - 1945) and a Treasury Savings Stamp (1920), both issued by the Treasury Department.
Postal Savings Stamps
An Act of Congress of June 25, 1910, established the Postal Savings System in designated Post Offices, effective January 1, 1911 until 1941. The legislation aimed to get money out of hiding, attract the savings of immigrants accustomed to saving at Post Offices in their native countries, provide safe depositories for people who had lost confidence in banks, and furnish more convenient depositories for working people.
Although bankers first viewed the Postal Savings System as competition, they later were convinced that the Postal Savings System brought a considerable amount of money out of hiding from mattresses and cookie jars.
The first 1911 stamps, Scott 3 PS1 to PS6 (10 cent orange and 10 cent blue) were used on a deposit card and cancelled there on. In 1940 a new design was developed for Scott # PS7 to PS10, a 10 cent to one dollar series.
These early saving stamps are shown here:
The more familiar Minuteman stamp now shows up on a savings card as shown below.
The top card is a 1920 version and the lower card is from 1941.
Savings Stamps 1954-1961
In order to save smaller amounts for deposit, customers could purchase a 10-cent postal savings card and 10-cent postal savings stamps to fill it. The card could be used to open or add to an account when its value, together with any attached stamps, amounted to one or more dollars, or it could be redeemed for cash.
This is the most familiar of all saving stamps – the 10 cent rose red of 1954-57.
This series of Scott # S1 to S5 includes the more expensive $5 sepia Minute Man stamp
A change by 1958 added a 48 star flag 25 c saving stamp, and a 1961 addition was a 50 star flag 25c saving stamp.
The 1910 act generated the creation of the US Post Office official stamps and envelopes to manage the Postal Saving System. The covers are identifiable by the corner reference to the Postal Saving System. Found in the Official Stamps section of the Scott’s specialized catalog is the Official Postal Savings Mail stamps which were issued between June 1910 and Oct 1914.
The stamps were Scott # O121 to O126, a total of six stamps, from 1 cent to 1 dollar. The 2 c Black was issued with two different watermarks. Shown below are Postal Saving System envelopes with different amounts of official postal saving mail stamps to pay registry fees.
The stamped envelope is Scott UO72 with O124 (2 c black) and O126 (10 c red). All envelopes are addressed to and from postmasters. After mid-October 1914 a $300 penalty clause was overprinted and the savings envelope statement was obliterated in black.
A copy of such an envelope is found here:
A Liberty bond (or liberty loan) was a war bond that was sold in the United States to support the allied cause in World War I. Subscribing to the bonds became a symbol of patriotic duty in the United States and introduced the idea of financial securities to many citizens for the first time. The Act of Congress which authorized the Liberty Bonds is still used today as the authority under which all U.S. Treasury bonds are issued.
War Savings Certificates were issued to depositors as proof of their deposit in the 1917 War Savings System. The initial maximum allowable balance of $500 was raised to $1,000 in 1916 and to $2,500 in 1918.
The first set of war savings stamps was issued on 1 Dec. 1917 and was called Thrift Stamp (good for payment towards a war savings certificate). The next page shows Thrift stamps stored in a thrift card which held $4 worth of stamps (to be exchanged for a war saving certificate stamp redeemable for $5 on 1 Jan. 1923).
This example of the 1917 $5 deep green war savings certificate stamp affixed at the upper left position #1 was the only one discovered in the certificate which reportedly remained undisturbed for 65 years in a bank security box until sold by public auction. The stamp is Scott # WS2. Other $5 stamps in this series are an expensive rouletted similar WS3, a 1919 deep blue WS4, a 1919 carmine $5 – WS5, and a final orange on green expensive WS6.
The next war savings stamp is again the 1942 Minute Man but this series reads War Savings down the right side. These are Scott # WS7 to WS13. The example shown below is WS10, the #1 gray black mounted in a booklet.
As we all know, occasional mix-ups happen in the postal system. They’re not planned, they just happen. Right? Bet the Post Office might call this illegal use of stamps and others say they’re just trying to get their dime’s worth. Used in 1968 the stamp is WS7 with War Savings at right.
Last in the savings stamps is a Treasury Department issued savings stamp. Shown below is Scott’s TS1, a red on green $1 Treasury Savings Stamp.
It is priced in 2017 at $3,750.00 unused and $1,750.00 on document.
And so ends the saga of savings stamps, until I get more material to improve the story.
Thanks to the Cresthaven Stamp Club and Bob Burr for this article. If your club has a suggested article, please email an electronic copy for us to review.