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Confederate Currency

Confederate Currency

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Confederate Currency

100 pages
40 minutes
Sep 20, 2012


On February 4, 1861, the Confederate States of America was formed, and almost immediately the first Confederate notes were printed – the famous “Montgomery” notes. These would be followed by many designs over the next four years. The seventy different designs or “type” notes are eagerly sought today by collectors, historians and family historians, and a collection of Confederate currency offers fascinating insights into the tumultuous Civil-War period. Pierre Fricke examines these series of Confederate notes, highlighting the history and circumstances in which they were created. This easy-to-read, fun and educational book offers an introduction to the often beautiful notes that financed the Confederacy.
Sep 20, 2012

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Confederate Currency - Pierre Fricke



THE CONFEDERATE STATES OF AMERICA (CSA or Confederacy) was formed in February 1861 during a meeting of delegates from the Deep South states (South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, and Texas) in Montgomery, Alabama, in response to Abraham Lincoln’s presidential victory in autumn 1860. Lincoln’s advocacy of a strong central government and taxation, along with his goal to limit slavery, were the driving factors in the creation of the Confederate States. By April 1861, war would break out between the United States of America (USA or Union) and the CSA, which would last four bloody years, resulting in the defeat of the Confederacy in April 1865, the implementation of a strong central government, which would be the basis of the USA going forward, and the elimination of slavery.

Of the many concerns facing the Confederacy as a new nation were those of financing the government and providing a medium of exchange. Although coinage was considered, and the U.S. mints at New Orleans, Louisiana; Dahlonega, Georgia; and Charlotte, North Carolina were seized, the circumstances of an impending war rendered coinage impossible. Hence, the Confederacy resorted to paper money to provide for domestic commerce and for bonds to attract both domestic and foreign capital, and it used its specie (gold and silver seized from the mints) as reserves and for foreign trade. Taxes were raised from duties on exports and imports to further add to government funds.

Christopher Gustavus Memminger of South Carolina was involved with the monetary policy of the Confederacy from the get-go. During a secret session on February 19–20, 1861, he helped craft the import duties collection laws. On February 20, Eli Shorter of Alabama drafted the words that created the Department of the Treasury. The next day, Howell Cobb of Georgia added a resolution defining the duties on exporting cotton. President Jefferson Davis chose Memminger as his secretary of treasury on February 21, 1861.

One of the first acts of the new government was to provide financing with loans or bonds. The Act of February 28, 1861, authorized the first Confederate bond issue designed to raise immediate funds for the government to get started. This Act enabled the creation of the Montgomery bonds printed at the New Orleans branch of the American Bank Note Company and the more famous and rare bonds printed at the New York branch of the American Bank Note Company. The latter featured the imprint American Bank Note Company, New Orleans as Memminger had contacted the New Orleans office to avoid trouble if war broke out with the North. As it happened, the New Orleans branch had neither the manpower nor equipment to fulfill the order for bonds and sent the order to New York. As war broke out, these bonds were shipped by express to Montgomery for disbursement to fund the new government.

The New Orleans Mint made coins, primarily half dollars and a few $20 gold pieces, for the United States, the State of Louisiana, and the Confederate States in 1861. Shown here in 1907 from a postcard.

C. G. Memminger was the Confederate secretary of the treasury from early 1861 through July 1864 and was responsible for Confederate monetary policy.

The famous $1,000 Montgomery bond printed in New York.


The most recognizable and well known of these monetary efforts was Confederate paper money. Confederate paper money was not backed by gold, cotton, or anything else; it was a true fiat currency. Some Confederate notes paid interest, and all were fundable into bonds or payable (usually with newer paper money) during the war or after a peace treaty was signed with the United States. Despite the lack of gold backing, Confederate citizens patriotically embraced the new currency as a price to pay for independence.

Two of the most recognizable Confederate notes: the rare 1861 $1,000 Montgomery and the most common Confederate note,

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