Savings Stamps

United States Savings Stamps by Harry K. CharlesSavings stamps were an important financial tool to many Americans for sixty years. Purchased with pocket change and accumulated on cards or folders, the stamps provided savers with a method of gathering funds for larger financial goals. Harry K. Charles has told their story in United States Savings Stamps: The Postal & Treasury Savings Stamp Systems of the United States, published by and available from the United States Stamp Society.

Postal Savings was established in the United States in 1910, after nearly 40 years of Congressional inaction. Deposits to open or add to an account were only accepted in whole dollar amounts. The 10¢ Postal Savings stamps facilitated accumulation of a dollar for a deposit. The Post Office created this savings vehicle at a time when many communities lacked a bank and periodic bank failures (more than two decades before FDIC insurance) caused considerable distrust of banks among many. Since European governments had offered postal savings for decades before the United States, the program was familiar to and popular with many immigrants.

 When the United States entered World War I, a few years later, the Treasury Department needed to borrow billions of dollars. The Post Office played a major role in the sale of 25¢ Thrift Stamps that could be accumulated to purchase $5 War Savings Certificate Stamps that paid 4% interest at maturity. Treasury stamps were important for financing both World Wars as well as the Cold War. All remaining Postal Savings accounts were closed in 1966 and the sale of Treasury Savings stamps ended in 1970.

 The book provides much more than merely the details of the stamp issues. Harry has included the regulations, savings cards, post office forms, meters, slogan cancels, and a very nice chapter on the ephemera used to promote these stamps.