Turn Your Silver into Bullets at the Post Office


During World War I, the British government relied heavily on loans to finance the war effort. The Treasury issued its first war loan in November 1914 at an interest rate of 3.5 percent, followed by a second loan in June 1915 at 4.5 percent. Citizens were exhorted to forgo consumption and put their savings into the loans. This 1915 poster shows a pair of cupped hands overflowing with silver coins; the coins turn into bullets as they fall. In the background, there is a scrip voucher for the 1915 loan. The poster was issued by the Parliamentary War Savings Committee, a cross-party organization set up in July 1915 as an outgrowth of the Parliamentary Recruiting Committee. Through appeals such as this and by offering relatively high interest rates—5 percent by 1917—Britain was able to finance much of its war effort. These loans proved to be a heavy burden on the postwar economy, however, and contributed to the difficult economic conditions in the 1920s and 1930s.

Last updated: October 25, 2013