$200 Million Burned In A Crematorium

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Thirty-four days after the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor, the U.S. Treasury recalled $200 Million in U.S. currency and the military was forced to burn it in a crematorium.  To ensure all the money was burned, a fine mesh was placed on the top of the smokestacks to catch scraps of currency escaping the fire.

That’s right $200 million in US currency went up in smoke because the US military was concerned that the Japanese were planning an invasion of the islands and they feared that Japanese soldiers could seize the money from financial institutions or private citizens.

On January 10, 1942, Military Governor Delos Carleton Emmons issued an order to recall all regular US paper money circulated in the Hawaiian Islands. 

On June 25, 1942, new overprinted currency notes with the word HAWAII were printed; two small overprints to the sides of the obverse of the bill and large HAWAII lettering dominating the reverse.  The overprints intended to easily distinguish US currency captured by Japanese forces in the event of an invasion of Hawaii and render the bills useless.

By October of 1944, the US no longer saw Japan as a threat, and they took the overprinted bills out of circulation, allowing the regular currency to re-enter Hawaii. Today, nearly all the overprinted bills are out of circulation, but if you find one, it’s your lucky day, $1 overprinted bills are selling on E-bay for $10 – $100!


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