Redemption Song

In late 1994, following a tradition based on an oblique interpretation of Genesis 34:25, I performed the mitzvah of becoming a man in the Jewish faith.

Immediately following, my neighbors, in the timeless suburban tradition of acknowledging your neighbors’ childrens’ accomplishments, gave me money.

In addition to (what seemed like at the time) boatloads of cash, I received a few other things. Someone gave me a pair of binoculars. Someone else gave me a globe. And I got a bunch of fountain pens. I’m now in my thirties and I still don’t understand why anyone would ever use a fountain pen, but maybe that’s just me.

I also received a bunch of US Savings Bonds. I found them when I went back to Chicago recently.

The bonds have my old address on them, which I covered up with a ticket for a free hug. Unfortunately the ticket is totally separate: John Adams is not actually offering hugs at this time.

Anyways, I thought these were the lamest things ever, so I was figuring our how to redeem them at the US Treasury’s site. I put in the info on my bond and this came up:

My $75 bond is worth more than $75!

I figured this was wrong, but after playing around online, it’s true: Savings bonds were marketed as being worth double their face amount (note this one was bought for $37.50, half of $75), probably because that’s a lot easier to understand than ‘x% per year’. But really, they can be worth MUCH more than that: some old ones with higher interest can be worth 5x their face. Talk about surprise and delight!

Sadly, you can’t buy savings bonds with this face value any longer: the Treasury discontinued them last year. I’ll be following the public debt report to see if this has an impact on the number of bonds issued. I bet it does.