A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006.

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Entry from March 09, 2009
“Jesus Saves, Moses Invests”

"Jesus Saves” is a message that the Bible Society advertised since at least the 1960s. By at least 1965, someone added the following graffito to that message: “But Moses Invests.” Another 1960s addition to “Jesus Saves” was “Green Stamps.”

The graffito perhaps points out a stereotype that Jewish people are better with money. An infrequent addition to “Jesus Saves—Moses Invests” is “Buddha pays dividends.”

It is not known who wrote the first “Moses Invests” underneath “Jesus Saves,” but the graffitied ads often appeared on New York City subways and buses in the 1960s.

One popular variant (from at least 1974) is: “Jesus saves, but the Mongol hordes.”


Zazzle.com
Jesus saves. Moses invests.
T-shirt
by cardboardmasks

Google Books
The Study of Folklore
By Alan Dundes
Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall
1965
Pg. 43:
Whether it’s a slogan ("Jesus Saves; Moses Invests") or a joking question referring to a supposed physiognomic feature ("Why do Jews have big noses? Air is free.") the mercenary slur is the same.

8 October 1966, Eureka (CA) Humboldt Standard, “Rock Hudson Comes Across” by Dick Kleiner (Hollywood Correspondent, Newspaper Enterprise Assn.), pg. 2, col. 7:
Sign on a flat at 20th Century-Fox: “Jesus Saves. Moses Invests.”

25 October 1966, Delaware County Daily Times (Chester, PA), “Graffiti Loved by All” by Norton Mockridge, pg. 7, col. 1:
NEW YORK—Boy, did I touch off a volcano when I did that column on graffiti just a month ago!
(...)
IN MY FIRST graffiti column, I told how somebody had written under “Jesus Saves” the line: “But Moses Invests.”

Here are other lines (contributed by Helmut Rupperberger, Bob Bowling and Jules Lieberthal) that have been seen under “Jesus Saves”: “Plaid Stamps,” “What for?” and “But not on my salary!”

Google Books
Graffiti
By Bill Adler
Published by Pyramid Books, 1967
Pg. 44:
A classic is the Bible Society poster reading “Jesus Saves,” to which is appended “BUT MOSES INVESTS.”

12 February 1967, New York (NY) Times, “Graffiti to Print” by Jacob Brackman, pg. 260:
“Jesus Saves” bulletins rarely escape defacement. The two most common subscripts: PLAID STAMPS and BUT MOSES INVESTS.

Google Books
The last years of the church
By David Poling
Garden City, NY: Doubleday
1969
Pg. 18:
A New York subway poster caught this mood when someone scribbled “Jesus Saves but Moses Invests.”

Google Books
Encyclopedia of Graffiti
By Robert George Reisner and Lorraine Wechsler
New York, NY: Macmillan
1974
Pg. 175:
Jesus saves but the Mongol hordes. Jesus saves; Moses invests; but only Buddha pays dividends. Jesus saves S & H Green Stamps.

Google Books
Asimov Laughs Again:
More Than 700 Favorite Jokes, Limericks and Anecdotes

By Isaac Asimov
New York, NY: HarperCollins Publishers
1992
Pg. 217:
In various places in the city, one may find a terse sign, JESUS SAVES! put up by those who are interested in salvation. Underneath one of them in the subway, a keen financial mind wrote, “But Moses invests!”

Google Books
John Updike and Religion:
The Sense of the Sacred and the Motions of Grace

By James Yerkes
Contributor James Yerkes
Published by W.B. Eerdmans
2000
Pg. 237:
One of the ashram’s souvenir stickers read, “Moses Invests, Jesus Saves, Bhagwan Spends.”

WordReference Forums
cyberpedant
25th March 2007, 08:14 PM
Re: Jesus saves but Moses invests.
I think this is a snide and satirical comment about both religio/cultural persuasions. Not terribly offensive and a bit funny. 

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityBanking/Finance/Insurance • (0) Comments • Monday, March 09, 2009 • Permalink