USS Arizona Memorial, Pearl Harbor Hawaii

Background Information

For this Banknote of the day we will be focusing on the 1-dollar Hawaii banknote from 1942 in honor of the 78th anniversary of the Pearl Harbor attack in Hawaii. This day will forever be remembered and pulled America into arguably one of the most horrific wars we’ve seen, World War 2. After this attack, extra security and safety precautions were taken and new regimes were put in place to ensure America would be caught in a vulnerable position again. American Currency, particularly in Hawaii, was one of the security precautions that was taken, and that’s how the “Hawaii Overprint Note” banknote was born.

Source: Banknote World Educational site, 1 Dollar Hawaii Banknote, 1942

The Birth of the Hawaii Banknote from 1942

On December 7th, 1941 at approximately 8 am, Japanese forces attacked the Pearl Harbor’s naval base with no notice. This was the beginning of the United States significance in World War 2, which caused extra security percautions to make sure nothing could be infiltrated, and if it was, could be easily recognized.

Faced with this situation, on January 10th, 1942, Military Governor, Delos Carleton Emmons, issued an order to recall all original US currency on the island. On June 25th, 1942, new overprinted notes were first issued and in affect. Series 1935 A was a $1 silver certificate, Series 1934 $5 and $20 Federal Reserve Notes, and Series 1934 A had $5, $10, and $20 Federal Reserve Notes from the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco. They were issued with brown treasury seals and coordinating serial numbers. Overprints of the word HAWAII were made; two small overprints to the sides of the obverse of the bill between the border and both the treasury seal and Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco seal, and large outlined HAWAII lettering completely covering the reverse. This made it almost impossible to miss, which was the point. All in all, the 1-dollar Hawaii overprint note is just one of many banknotes issued during World War 2 as an added security effort after the attack on Pearl Harbor. The idea behind it is the overprints were to be easily identified as US currency if captured by Japanese forces in the event they invaded Hawaii again. The bills were to be rendered as worthless and destroyed should Japan get ahold of them.

Source: History Channel, Pearl Harbor, 1941
Source: NBC News, USS Oklahoma

By August 15th, 1942, no non-overprint notes were left on the islands, and no other paper currency could be used in the islands without the government’s special permission. Fast forward to October 21st, 1944, though the war continued, the making and issuance of the Hawaii overprint notes ended. As the allies went deeper in the pacific and made progress, the Japanese were forced to go west and away from Hawaii. April of 1946, a recall was issued, and the banknotes were to be summoned. Most people kept some as a collectible of one of Hawaii’s most trying time in history.

Japanese Military Money, 100 Yen Japan’s Banknote from 1944

Source: Banknote World, Educational 100 Yen Japan’s Banknote from 1944

All while the United States was making countless efforts to protect Hawaii from another possible surprise invasion creating “Hawaii Overprint notes”, Japan had a similar idea in mind. Japanese officials used what was called “Military Money” as salary, and to control close economies. Since the currency was not backed up by gold, it couldn’t be exchanged. Countries like Hong Kong were forced to completely convert to the military money as Japan seized power. We will revisit this in detail in upcoming blogs, so stay tuned!

December 7th, 1941, we remember that on that Sunday morning, hundreds of Japanese fighter planes circled right over the base, where they managed to destroy or damage nearly 20 American naval vessels. This included 8 battleships, and over 300 airplanes. Over, 2,400 Americans died in the attack, including civilians, and another 1,000 people were wounded. Just a year later, the Hawaii banknote was born. This week we remember the people affected by the Pearl Harbor Attack.

Want a specific banknote featured for Banknote of the Day? Comment below!

2 thoughts on “Banknote of the Day: 1-Dollar Hawaii Banknote from 1942

    1. Banknote World Post author

      Hello, and thanks for your comment!

      Unfortunately, the Hawaii Banknotes are extremely rare and we don’t have them in stock. They may be available elsewhere online, but be cautious of fraudulent banknotes! Hope this helped and thanks again for asking!


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