American Civil War in the News is a edited review of American Civil War related news and articles, providing collection of hand-picked 1861-1865 era history.

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Coins & Currency - Civil War-era

Latest hand-picked Civil War news and articles.

State sells Confederate-era cash to raise money
The S.C. Department of Archives and History hopes that the sale of 150-year-old banknotes will pull in new money for the cash-strapped agency. The surplus property division of the S.C. Budget and Control Board has listed the Civil War-era money for sale on eBay. For example, the starting bid for a canceled $4 bank note - issued from the Bank of the State of South Carolina, which collapsed during the Civil War - starts at $150. The Bank of the State of South Carolina, founded in 1812, was one of the few banks of the era run by a state. The state is not auctioned off any original or last-remaining items from the department's vault.

Clash of Extremes: The Economic Origins of the Civil War [book review]
In "Clash of Extremes" Marc Egnal argues that the Civil War was caused more by economic changes than the issue of slavery. People see slavery as the cause of the civil war, because this gives them a myth that presents the history of the U.S. as the progress of liberty. A change in the economy brought about a realignment of politics along a north-south axis in the decades before 1861. A "national economy" linked the producers of the South to the manufacturers of the North, but in the 1850s this link crumbled because of the rise of the antislavery movement and the development of the Great Lakes economy.

Confederate States Paper Money: Civil War Currency from the South
The 11th edition of "Confederate States Paper Money: Civil War Currency from the South", edited by George S. Cuhaj comes in color, and with over 350 color photos. Like most such guides, it offers to help id the various notes and to offer pricing in 6 grades (from Good to Unc). As noted in the preface, the study of Confederate currency is an ever evolving field: this edition is more than double in size than the first one published in 1958 - filled with information on the history of the notes and ways to collect them.

Collectible investments: Value of Confederate debt rising
During its 4-year existence, the government of the Confederate States of America issued debt instruments valued at over $800 million. After the military defeat of the Confederacy, much of this paper was lost or thrown away, but enough survived to trigger the interest of collectors. As we move towards the 150th anniversary of the founding of the CSA, that interest is growing. After the war the Union refused to recognize the rebel government debts and none of the long-term instruments reached due date. That left many of the later coupon bonds intact, allowing collectors to put together admirable sets of representative varieties.

Coins of 1861 controlled by the Confederacy
On Dec. 20, 1860, South Carolina struck the opening blow by voting for the dissolution of its bond with the Union. Soon other Southern states joined South Carolina, and Federal installations in the South fell like dominoes to the new powers. The 3 Southern mints (New Orleans, Dahlonega, Charlotte) were at first under the control of the states, before Confederate authorities took over. Because many believed that secession would be peaceful, the idea arose at New Orleans to create a Confederate half dollar coinage. Designs were prepared and presented to Confederate Treasury Secretary Christopher Memminger at the then Southern capital of Montgomery.

Long-lost papers reveal Confederacy`s financial crisis
On the brink of crisis 145 years ago, the Confederate States of America sought an economic rescue not different the one U.S. institution recently got. Confederate accounts were overdrawn, and credit from overseas investment firms was about to end because lenders weren't sure the Southern states could repay their debts. So, in 1863, Alabama businessman Colin J. McRae was sent to Europe to mastermind a bailout of the Confederacy. In 2002, a trove of documents about McRae's tour was found in the attic of a home in Alabama. The papers mastermind the impact of European financing on the Civil War and detailed of the Confederate supply chain.

Woman seeks to collect on Civil War debt
Joan Kennedy Biddle is suing the city of Tampa over a $299.58 loan her great-grandfather Thomas Pugh Kennedy gave the city during the American Civil War, and she is seeking $22.7 million - the loan plus 8% annual interest. A promissory note given to her ancestor, on June 21, 1861, accounts that Kennedy loaned the money to the city, but she and her family claim the debt was never paid. "This thing has been in the family since the date on the note, and it has never been repaid. My daddy told me, and I certainly believe him."

Sam Upham's Fakes - Counterfeit Treasury Notes of the Confederate States
A Southern gentleman wrote the Confederate Treasury secretary in 1861 that northerners "were preparing a large issue of counterfeit Treasury Notes of the Confederate States." There is no believable evidence that a plot was carried out by Federals. But the fact is that northern-made bogus Confederate facsimiles circulated south of the Mason Dixon Line. These notes plagued the Southern officials, economy and morale. Sam Upham was a snake oil salesman who is famous for fake Rebel notes. He began his rise to "fame" in March, 1862, when he bought an electrotype plate from the Philadelphia Inquirer that had been used to produce a replica Confederate $5 note.

6 pre civil war coins worth $150,000 will be auctioned off
Mike Joyce calls it one of the biggest numismatic finds in recent history. The news editor of Coin World magazine doesn`t disagree. Joyce will auction off 6 of the finest known examples of 1852 Charlotte Mint $5 Gold Liberty coins. A 7th rare coin, an 1850 Dahlonega Mint $5 Gold Liberty, will also be up for bid. 4 of the Charlotte Mint examples have been ranked by the Numismatics Guaranty Corporation as being in MS-63 condition, and hold estimated values of $25,000 apiece. The other two garnered even better grades of MS-64, holding estimated values of $50,000 each. The coins had previously been evaluated at a mere $200 each.

The Rebel and the Rose: What happened to the stockpile of Confederate gold
In the early 1990s, Gerald White became intrigued by the story of James A. Semple and lost Confederate gold. While researching he met Wesley Millett, who was also gathering information about Semple and the gold. Eventually White and Millett decided to collaborate on a book, and their project, "The Rebel and the Rose" has recently been released. It traces Semple's story. He was a Navy paymaster who, in May 1865, was entrusted with all the gold in the Confederate treasury: $86,000 in coins and bullion, the equivalent of $2M today. After hiding the treasure in the false bottom of a carriage, he and another man Edward M. Tidball disappeared.

Civil War -era U.S. Postage and Fractional Currency avidly collected
As a niche, perhaps no genre of U.S. currency is more avidly collected than U.S. Postage and Fractional Currency. These miniature pieces of paper money replaced change during the American Civil War, and for the last quarter century have had their own collector's organization: The Fractional Currency Collectors Board. When Treasury Secretary Salmon Chase's greenback inflation drove hard money from the marketplace, the U.S. Congress mistakenly monetized postage stamps to replace the coins, withdrawn from circulation. 124 million of these Postage Currency notes were issued, totaling $20.2 million in revenues. This included 45 million of the 5-cent Jefferson notes.

Confederate Currency Now on Display in Tunica RiverPark Museum   (Article no longer available from the original source)
The Tunica RiverPark museum is counting on a Confederate Currency new exhibit to teach visitors about a specific time of Southern history. The Confederate Currency bills are part of a collection of 322 notes. The Confederate States of America began issuing its own currency in April of 1861, just before the Civil War broke out. The South did not have the backing needed to fight a war, so they printed their own currency. This currency, backed by cotton instead of gold, was issued to millions of Southerners. When the South surrendered in 1865 and the Confederacy ceased to exist, the money became worthless, but it is now prized by collectors.

Newly found Hunley dime coin a highly valuable relic
The silver is gone, eaten away by corrosion, but the words "U.S. Dime" remain etched on what is the second coin recovered from the H.L. Hunley submarine since the $20 gold piece was found 6 years ago. The coin, roughly the size of a penny used today, was minted in 1841. The Lady Liberty on the front of the coin is barely visible. "U.S. Dime" on the back and the date can be clearly made out. The only other coin discovered onboard the submarine was a gold coin that is believed to have saved the life of Lt. George Dixon, the sub's commander during the Battle of Shiloh. A bullet hit the coin, which Dixon engraved to read: "Shiloh April 6, 1862 My Life Preserver."

Rare collection of Confederate Paper Money and Bonds to be sold
R. M. Smythe & Co. announced that their Spring Paper Money & Coin Auctions will be held at their offices in New York, April 11-13, 2007. Included will be Part 10 of the Herb and Martha Schingoethe Collection, the largest Obsolete Paper Money collection ever to be offered at auction, and the Confederate Collection of the Western Reserve Historical Society, one of the most complete collections of Confederate Paper Money and Bonds at auction. Also included is the Western Reserve Historical Society`s Collection of Postage Stamp Envelopes. The sale will also include Colonial and Continental Currency, and U. S. and International Coins.

Images of slavery discovered on old Southern currency
Pictures of slaves often showed up on Southern banknotes issued by the Confederacy during the Civil War. That historical detail led John W. Jones to a project: He began collecting old banknotes, and pictures of them, showing images of slavery, then magnified the tiny engravings and painted enlarged copies onto large canvases. The result is his exhibit "The Color of Money," a study of art and history, which opened at the Museum in Myrtle Beach. One $10 bill showed George Washington out with his slaves, underlining that slavery was an integral part of the nation from the start and that many of the founders were slaveowners.

Civil War-Era $100 Note Goes for $2.1 Million   (Article no longer available from the original source)
Two 19th century pieces of U.S. currency, including a $100 note issued during the Civil War, have sold for $2.1 million each. The sale fetched a record amount for paper money. The $100 note is a 1863-series gold certificate signed Dec. 13, 1866. The note was part of a series of currency the Union issued to help finance the Civil War.

The history of U.S. money - Civil War era   (Article no longer available from the original source)
(1861) On the brink of bankruptcy and pressed to finance the Civil War, Congress authorizes the U.S. Treasury to issue paper money for the first time in the form of non-interest bearing treasury notes called demand notes. (1862) Demand notes are replaced by U.S. notes - called "greenbacks" because of the green tint introduced to discourage forging. (1863) The design of U.S. currency incorporates a Treasury seal and fine-line engraving. Cotton and linen paper are used. (1865) Gold certificates are issued, backing gold coin and bullion deposits. The Secret Service is established to control counterfeiting. At the time, an alarming 1/3 of all currency is fake.