During World War II, the potential for enemy seizure of American cash circulating in Hawaii and North Africa was a significant concern to the United States government. Two emergency issues of paper money were produced that bore distinctive treasury seals and overprinting with the idea that this special currency could be cancelled in the event of invasion, rendering it worthless in enemy hands.
About North African Emergency Issues
The circumstances surrounding the issuance of emergency currency were somewhat different in Hawaii and North Africa. Under the direction of General Dwight D. Eisenhower, Allied forces launched an extensive military action against the Vichy French in North Africa on November 8th, 1942 known as Operation Torch. The U.S. soldiers who fought in this campaign were paid in cash. To avoid enemy confiscation of American money, a special series of silver certificates was issued for payment to military personnel. These notes bore a unique yellow seal and were the only silver certificates to ever feature this color. Unlike the emergency notes issued in Hawaii, the North Africa notes were otherwise not explicitly marked. Furthermore, whereas the Hawaii notes were printed for circulation among the civilian population, the North Africa notes were distributed only to the military. If seized by Axis powers, these special notes could have been cancelled immediately and rendered worthless. The North Africa notes were issued in $1, $5, and $10 denominations. All $1 notes were dated series 1935A, while the $5 notes were dated 1934A, and the $10 notes were dated either 1934 or 1934A. The success of Operation Torch was a major turning point in the War, as it removed Axis control over the large North African oil reserves and provided the Allies with a base to launch their offensive into Southern Europe, where the yellow seal notes were again used during the Sicilian campaign of 1943.
Many soldiers returning home from the Pacific and North African theaters brought the unusual brown and yellow seal notes back to the mainland as souvenirs. Today, these scarce emergency issues remain important economic artifacts from World War II that serve as an enduring and tangible reminder of a time of profound crisis and world conflict.