75 Years Ago – The Turning Point of WWII

One of the key events of World War II began 75 years ago on August 23, 1942 – the Battle of Stalingrad for the city of Stalingrad in Russia. The battle raged for over five months and inflicted a major blow to the German army. With its army devastated, Germany was weakened – and many historians point to the Battle of Stalingrad as a turning point in the war. 

Today, 75 years later, we can look back with pride and honor to the “Greatest Generation” who fought for our freedom … and you can own some genuine U.S. coins and banknotes that are historical artifacts from World War II. 

One of the most remarkable episodes in World War II history was when the U.S. Treasury produced special $1 Silver Certificates for use exclusively by troops in the Pacific and North Africa. The U.S. government was afraid that large amounts of U.S. currency might fall into enemy hands – and could potentially be used to buy weapons for use against U.S. forces in the war. Instead of the usual blue Treasury seals, these “emergency” World War II $1 Silver Certificates were made with yellow seals for use in North Africa and brown seals for use in Hawaii and the Pacific. Amazingly, a small number of these notes still exist, and each note is protected in a display wallet with a story card to explain its unique history:

  • WWII Emergency Bank Note – “North Africa” Yellow Seal. A small number of “emergency” $1 Silver Certificates were made with unique yellow seals for use by U.S. forces during the Operation Torch campaign in North Africa in late 1942 and the subsequent invasion of Sicily and Italy in 1943.
  • WWII Emergency Bank Note – “Hawaii” Brown Seal. “Emergency” $1 Silver Certificates were also made with brown seals for use by U.S. forces in Hawaii. Had these notes fallen into enemy hands, they would have been declared worthless. 

Meanwhile, during World War II, the U.S. Mint made sacrifices for the war effort and temporarily changed the composition of pennies and nickels. Most of these “emergency” coins disappeared generations ago, but a few remain for today’s collectors and historians. These are the coins that helped America win the war!

  • Complete WWII Nickel Collection. Nickel was needed for guns, tanks, and other essential war supplies – so the U.S. Mint reduced its use of nickel for coins to free it up for the war effort. Instead of nickel, the U.S. Mint struck nickels in 35% silver during the war from 1942 to 1945 – and the complete collection of World War II Nickels is an exceptional collector’s item that has a unique link to the war. What’s more, these are the only silver nickels in history, and each coin bears the large mint mark on the back to identify it as silver.
  • Roll of 1943 Steel Cents. In 1943, the U.S. Mint struck the Lincoln “wheat ears” one-cent coin in steel to help save copper for America’s war effort. It is the first and only steel coin in U.S. history, and this roll includes 50 stunning coins in a protective tube. 

In addition, the Pearl Harbor Coin Collection and Japanese Invasion Note is a remarkable collection that brings together historic World War II U.S. coins and a Japanese “Invasion Note” that was intended to be used in place of U.S. currency following a successful Japanese invasion of the U.S. – but fortunately it was never needed. The coins include a standard 1941 Jefferson Nickel, a 1942 Nickel made in 35% silver, the 1943 Steel Penny, and the 1944 Penny that was made with recycled copper from used shell cases gathered from battleships and battlefields.

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