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Most of the photos on this site were extracted from reference images (high-resolution tiffs, 20 to 200 megabytes in size) from the Library of Congress research archive. (To query the database click here.) Many were digitized by LOC contractors using a Sinar studio back. They are adjusted by your webmaster for contrast and color in Photoshop before being downsized and turned into the jpegs you see here.

 
 
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VINTAGRAPH • WPA • WWII • THE NEW ZEALAND FOREST, c. 1950

$900 Million: 1914

$900 Million: 1914

1914. "Treasury Department, Office of Comptroller of Currency -- bond vault. Contains bonds to the value of $900 million securing government deposits and postal savings fund." National Photo Co. glass negative. View full size.

 

Postal Savings

From what I've been told about my coal miner grandfather, he used the postal savings exclusively. He distrusted banks, saying that (back then) there were any number of counters for making deposits, but only one for withdrawals. According to him, they even knocked a hole in the wall so you could put your money in at night.

Glass ceiling

What's going on with the top of the glass plate? At the top, it appears there's part of another picture, and the I-beams and everything else are abruptly cut off.

[It's the very top portion of another shot taken at the Treasury Department at the same time. At some point in the past, prints were copied to glass negatives and these two happened to be stacked unevenly atop one another.]

Two weeks worth of war

The direct cost of U.S. involvement in WWI was roughly $23 billion, from the U.S. declaration of war in April 1917 until the end of the war in June 1918. (Source: "Direct and Indirect Costs of the Great World War" 2d ed. [Washington 1920] by Ernest L. Bogart.) So the $900 million represented here covered the cost of two weeks of the looming "war to end all wars."

Then and Now

$900 mil would be +/- $20,360,700,000 in 2011 according to the inflation calculators.

US Postal Savings, existed from January 1, 1911 until July 1, 1967. It was still big in Europe the last time I looked. This system was set up by the US Government to act as a saving account for anyone too poor to have a saving account or lived too far from a bank.

Smoke Break

Looks like he's reaching for the fan switch before they light up.

 
THE 100-YEAR-OLD PHOTO BLOG
Shorpy.com | History in HD is a vintage photo blog featuring thousands of high-definition images from the 1850s to 1950s. The site is named after Shorpy Higginbotham, a teenage coal miner who lived 100 years ago.

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