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1940s / WWII Hawaii Overprint Money
After the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, there was a legitimate fear that the Japanese would next launch a full-scale invasion of the Hawaiian Islands and occupy them. Among the consequences if that nightmare scenario actually unfolded was that all the US paper money in Hawaii would be seized from banks, businesses and private citizens and be used to finance Imperial Japan's war machine. Accordingly, a remarkable decision was made: During the first half of 1942, Hawaii's residents were ordered take their paper money to special collection areas and exchange it for new bills. Each bill had a special overprint of the word HAWAII on its reverse side. If Hawaii ever did fall to the Japanese, the US government would immediately declare the Hawaii overprint bills to be worthless. The old bills that were exchanged--about $200 million of them--were burned under the supervision of the American military. Such a calamity never occurred, of course. The overprint notes are still acceptable as legitimate US money today, although they rarely are found in general circulation.