According to Mangus, the Confederate government issued 72 different notes from 1861 to 1865 during the Civil War. The notes ranged from 50 cents to $1,000.
“They issued $1.7 billion dollars worth of currency causing inflation to rise to 8,200 percent by 1865,” said President of the Siege and Battlefield Comission Larry Mangus. “This was the main way the Confederacy raised money to finance the government and the war effort. In addition, the individual Confederate states issued over $65 million in notes. Even cities, counties and individual business owners issued notes.”
Of the 72 notes issued, Mangus is only missing six.
“These are some of the rarer notes in existence,” he said. “There isn’t a common note among them.”
The first four Confederate notes are so elusive that they sell for more than $25K each, if they can be found.
Only 607 of the first two notes ($1,000 and $500) and 1606 of the no. 3 ($100) and no. 4 ($50) were issued.
Confederate notes were printed by 11 different printers, most of whom were in Richmond, Va. B. Duncan, Hoyer and Ludwig and Keating and Ball were the primary printers.
Several issues were also printed in New Orleans and South Carolina.
“The main printers in New Orleans were Manouvrier and the Southern Bank Note Company,” said Mangus. “They printed until the fall of New Orleans in 1862. South Carolina notes were printed by Carolina J.T. Paterson and Evans and Cogswell until Columbia was captured by Sherman.”
Due to the types of paper used, the quality of notes varied.
“Some notes were actually printed on the reverse side of bank currency, bonds and note paper. These were of poorer quality and are rare in any condition,” said the collector. “The best paper came from England.”
Embellished with allegorical and mythological figures, particularly Justice and Ceres, the currency contained many different stamps and illustrations.
Scenes on the notes included toiling slaves, sailors and artillery on the $10 1864 common issue.
The capitals of Virginia, South Carolina, and Tennessee also appeared on notes.
Portraits included Jefferson Davis, Judah Benjamin, (CSA Secretary of State), John C. Calhoun, Clement Clay (CSA Congressman and former Governor of Ala.), Jefferson Davis, RMT Hunter (Secretery of State), Andrew Jackson, Stonewall Jackson (only military leader), Christopher Memminger (Secretary of Treasury), Lucy Pickens (the only woman and wife of the Governor of S.C.), Alexander Stephens, George Washington and John Ward, the most obscure, (worked in Paris Selling CSA Bonds).
Counterfeiting was a common problem at the time but many of the phony notes can easily be identified.
One of the most notorious counterfeiters was a man from Philadelphia by the name of Samuel Upham.
“He was the major counterfeiter for the North, printing over 1.564 million counterfeit notes with a face value of over $15 million. By counterfeiting Confederate money the North hoped to undermine the financial base of the Confederacy,” said Mangus. “Upham printed 28 different notes and even made a ‘bogus’ note (one that the Confederacy never printed) that was very popular and today sells for about $200.”
Desperation set in and a $10K bounty was placed on Upham, dead or alive by Jefferson Davis.
As he examined an 1861 note, Magus gave the following tips for spotting the “funny” money:
• 99 percent of all genuine notes were signed in brown, not black ink. Exceptions are the no. 63 and no. 72 (50 cent notes).
• 99 percent were hand-signed, usually women. Exceptions are the no. 48 and 49 Rare and 63 and 72.
• Real notes were issued on white or pink paper, never on parchment.
• Cut or whole canceled notes are the real thing.
• Genuine early notes from 1861 and 1862 have plain backs.
• Many bogus or reprint notes have “copy or Facsimile” written on them. In 1965 a lot of notes were reprinted during the 100th anniversary of the Civil War. They have a different back than the real notes. A lot of them are on eBay.
Mangus’ currency collection and 1-14 complete set of postage stamps are currently on display at the interpretive center and can be seen during regular hours the next couple of months.