Thrift Stamps

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THRIFT STAMPS. During World War I the American government turned to thrift stamps as one means of financing the war effort while instilling traditional values. War expenses totaled $33 billion, and the Treasury Department sold approximately $21 billion worth of Liberty bonds to meet the nation's new financial demands. However, to encourage thrift and support for the war effort among elements of the population who could not afford even the smallest bond, valued at fifty dollars, the Treasury Department was authorized to issue Thrift Stamps and War Savings Stamps. This revenue measure was often targeted at immigrants and school children. In many localities, public school teachers were authorized to implement the program and teach children the values of patriotism and saving.

Thrift Stamps cost twenty-five cents each, and when sixteen were collected they could be exchanged for War Savings Stamps or Certificates, which bore interest compounded quarterly at four percent and were tax free. War Savings Stamps could be registered at any post office, insuring the owner against loss, and sold back to the government through any post office with ten days written notice. The conditions placed on the program made it popular with small investors. The campaign began on 2 January 1918 and closed at the year's end. When the War Savings Stamps matured on 1 January 1923, the Treasury Department promised to pay the sum of five dollars for each certificate. In little more than a year over $1 billion was raised in this campaign, fulfilling its ideological and financial purposes.


Kennedy, David. Over Here: The First World War and American Society. New York: Oxford University Press, 1980.

Wynn, Neil A. From Progressivism to Prosperity: World War I and American Society. New York: Holmes and Meier, 1986.


See alsoSavings Bonds .