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What Are My WWI Savings Bonds Worth?

by Christopher Lancette
Published: Last Updated on

The cover of a pamphlet -sized portfolio of Presidential Series Honor Stamps (WWI savings bonds)What Are My WWI Savings Bonds Worth? Financial Values Are Often Minimal, But Chances to Study History Are Always Priceless

Families cleaning out their attics or the homes of loved ones often get excited when they come across a sheet of World War I savings bonds. They’re old and they’re colorful, and they represent money — so they must be valuable, right?

The verdict …

They are absolutely old and colorful, but that doesn’t mean that there’s much value there.

Known by names including Liberty Bonds and Defense Bonds, the United States government began offering war bonds to support the war effort against Germany in 1917. The bonds encouraged people to save money and generate a little bit of interest in the process. Just as important, the bonds served as a shot of patriotic public relations.

Digging deeper

Most of the savings bond collections we see are incomplete, so let’s start on the lower end of answering the question of what are my WWI savings bonds worth. Take the Presidential Series Honor Savings 1919 group we just found. Produced by the Ohio War Savings Committee, the set is designed to hold bond stamps featuring U.S. presidents 1 to 27 — George Washington to Woodrow Wilson.

With only a partial collection of those stamps, a realistic selling price on a site like eBay might be closer to the $50 to $100 range. That’s before eBay takes its commission. A dealer like me probably wouldn’t buy them because the collection isn’t complete — meaning they’re not worth the time to handle. If you did find a local dealer, that dealer might be likely to pay no more than $15 or $50 for an incomplete set. There are a ton of them on the market and they don’t fly off the shelves — always a key consideration for seller and dealer alike.

On the other hand …

A complete set might possibly sell for as high as $250 on eBay — sometimes a bit higher. If you made a direct sale to a collector, you might fetch something in that same neighborhood. That’s if you take the time and have the ability to make direct sales yourself. Dealers might pay perhaps half the value we hope (the operative word here is “hope”) to get from selling the bonds.

World War I savings bonds might not boost your bank account by much today, but study the bonds and their history and you’ll come away richer for the experience.

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