Notes from the Past

Collecting War Savings Stamps

Although the United States has issued Postal Savings Stamps since 1911 and War Savings Stamps since 1917, there are very few collections of them in existence, due to the fact that the government at first discouraged their collecting.

In 1919 a listing of the Postal Savings Stamps and War Savings Stamps, issued during World War I, was included in the Scott Specialized U. S. Catalog but these were deleted the following year when objection was raised by the Treasury Department.

On May 1, 1941, the Post Office Department issued a set of Defense Postal Savings Stamps which were redeemable in the form of United States Treasury Defense, or War Bonds.  As a result of this, Hugh M. Clark, Editor of the Scott Standard Catalog, again wrote to the Secretary of the Treasury asking for their rulings in regard to the inclusion of these stamps in the catalog.

Under date of February 16, 1942, D. W. Bell, Under Secretary of the Treasury, advised Mr. Clark:

"Defense Savings Stamps of the present issue are a special series of Postal Savings Stamps made available for the purpose.  Accordingly, I am referring your letter to the Postmaster General.  As these stamps are obligations of the United States, redeemable on demand the Treasury would recommend against listing the stamps as collectors' items."

Following this, Mr. Clark submitted the question to the Postmaster General and under date of March 6, 1942, Ramsey S. Black, the Third Assistant Postmaster General, wrote as follows:

"The position of this office with respect to the subject of your communication has been states by Mr. D. W. Bell, Under Secretary of the Treasury, in his recent communication to you.  Defense savings stamps are a special type of obligation, redeemable on demand, unlike other stamps, and the listing of them in stamp catalogs is not deemed desirable."

- H. L Lindquist
"United States Savings Stamps -- a New Field For the Specialist"
The Stamp Specialist -- White Book
H. L. Lindquist 1944

Posted April 20, 2000

Editor's Note:  The article quoted above noted that the objections were finally lifted reluctantly on July 13, 1942.

The approval to list Postal Savings and War Savings Stamps led to a scramble by Mr. Clark to get together catalog material and issue album pages.  As it turned out the official discouragement of collecting these items left very little stock of early items.  There was also very little in the literature concerning the items.  Occasional items were found in collections and in estates where the difficulties of redemption exceeded the energy of the owner.  As a result, comprehensive collections of these stamps covering the years prior to 1942 were and are very uncommon.

Index of 508 Notes from the Past

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