APA Collections Update from Noriko Sanefuji:
When I visited the Numismatic collection at the National Museum of American History, I found some interesting currency with the word “HAWAII” printed on them. I got curious and wanted to find out the history behind it.
It turns out that this Hawai‘i overprint currency dates back to World War II. These notes were issued after the attack on Pearl Harbor to serve as emergency currency on the Hawai‘i Islands. These bills ($1, $5, $10 and $20) were distributed on July 15, 1942. The bills have “HAWAII” printed on the back in big letters and on the front with smaller letters in two places on the side. These measures were taken to easily identify the money. Just in case currency falls into the enemy’s hands during an invasion, it would be easily rejected as counterfeit money. This currency stayed in effect until October 1944.
The U.S. Treasury donated these notes to the museum along with 800 pieces of currency, many of which are very rare. These pieces of currency had a face value of nearly $600,000 back in 1978.
Arthur L. Friedberg. A Guide Book of United States Paper Money: Complete Source for History, Grading, and Prices, 2005.
The Numismatic Scrapbook Magazine, August 1942