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Series E bonds are one of several types of savings bonds issued by the United States between 1941 and 1980. Sometimes referred to as war bonds, Series E savings bonds were originally issued as part of the war effort at the onset of World War II, and continued to be issued for a number of years after the end of the war. Currently, there are a number of bonds issued between 1941 and 1980 that have yet to be redeemed.
As with all types of bonds, the Series E bond represented a secure investment for Americans who wished to support the war effort. The original bond issues were structured for purchase below face value. Over time, the bonds would mature to the face value, and be eligible for redemption. The actual number of years it took for the bond to mature depending on the prevailing rate of interest involved.
The Series E bond was available in a number of different denominations, all issued as US currency. The smallest bond was the $25 US Dollars (USD) bond, popular with many parents who purchased the bonds as a means of creating savings for their children. The largest bond in the series was the $10,000 USD bond, which was often purchased by small businesses and individuals who were considered to be in the upper middle and upper economic classes.
While the bond was kicked off on 1 May 1941, with the first bond being purchased by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, it was not until the following year that a strong effort to encourage the American public to purchase the bonds got underway. There were actually three separate drives to promote the Series E bond during World War II. The first effort took place in November and December 1942, and generated purchases of $13 billion USD, considerably more than the stated goal for the promotion. Commercial banks and corporations made most of the purchases, with a modest amount purchased by individuals.
A second Series E Bond drive took place in April and May of 1943. Again, the drive exceeded expectations, raising a total of $18.5 billion USD. While corporations and commercial banks still accounted for the majority of the sales, participation by individuals increased significantly.
The final Series E bond drive during World War II took place in September and October of 1943. Mass advertising, combined with the support of Hollywood celebrities and the promotion by President Roosevelt in his weekly radio fireside chats to the nation helped to push the final sales for this drive to $19 billion USD.
After the end of World War II, the Series E bond continued to be issued until June 1980, when it was replaced with the Series EE bond. In 2001, a version of the Series EE known as the Patriot Bond was issued after the 11 September attacks on the World Trade Center in New York City and the Pentagon in Washington DC. While the patriot bond attracted a fair amount of attention, it did not generate the degree of interest enjoyed by the Series E bond in its heyday.