Since their introduction in 1935 U.S. savings bonds have become a part of American culture; as ubiquitous as baseball, mom and apple pie. The U.S. Treasury Department still sells Series EE and Series I savings bonds, but in previous years it issued a number of different series, including Series F bonds, which had their own unique properties.
Savings Bond History
Savings bonds have gone by a number of names, including baby bonds, defense bonds, war bonds and just plain, old savings bonds. U.S. savings bonds gained popularity among individual investors due to their affordability (Series E bonds were available in denominations as low as $10) and high safety factor: Savings bonds are backed by the full faith and credit of the U.S. government. The U.S. Treasury issued Series A, B, C and D bonds between 1935 and 1941. Series F and G bonds were sold between 1941 and 1952, and Series H, J and K were introduced in 1952. Series E bonds were sold from 1941 to 1980, when they were replaced by Series EE bonds. The Treasury Department introduced Series HH bonds in 1982 and Series I bonds in 1998.
Series F savings bonds were introduced at the same time as their more famous cousin, the Series E savings bonds. Like Series E bonds, the interest on Series F savings bonds was exempt from income taxes at the state and local level. Individuals and companies could buy Series F bonds in denominations of $25, $100, $500, $1,000, $5,000 or $10,000. These bonds were sold at 74 percent of face value and could be redeemed for face value upon maturity 12 years later, resulting in an effective annual interest rate of a little over 2.5 percent.
Series F Value
If you rummaged through your grandparents' attic and came across an old Series F savings bond, you might wonder how much it's worth. Determining the current value of a Series F bond is easy. All you have to do is look at it. Series F savings bonds matured at their full face value 12 years after purchase and ceased earning interest. A $100 Series F savings bond is worth $100 if you redeem it from the U.S. Treasury, but only the registered owner or the owner's heirs can redeem a U.S. savings bond. You might be able to sell it to a collector, but whether you would get more or less than the face value depends on the bond's condition and other factors.
While you can redeem most paper U.S. savings bonds at any participating financial institution, your local bank can't redeem a Series F savings bond. You'll have to redeem your Series F bonds through a Federal Reserve Bank. Federal Reserve Banks don't usually offer walk-in service for savings bonds, so you'll need to contact one for instructions on how to submit your bonds for redemption.
Mike Parker is a full-time writer, publisher and independent businessman. His background includes a career as an investments broker with such NYSE member firms as Edward Jones & Company, AG Edwards & Sons and Dean Witter. He helped launch DiscoverCard as one of the company's first merchant sales reps.