The President’s Message:
The March speaker will be Patrick Falci.
Last year he gave a rousing and
exciting program about Lt. General A.P. Hill.
This year Patrick will discuss
the making of the movie Gettysburg. He served as
historical advisor on the movie. In
order to insure historical accuracy, he worked for five years before
filming began as well as on-set. Patrick
will discuss many of the stars in the movie.
How did Sam Elliott prepare for
the role of General Buford? How
Stephen Lang got the role of General Pickett?
Find out where Jeff Daniels did
his research for the role of Colonel Chamberlain.
How Patrick landed the role of
A.P. Hill? Learn about the
relationship between Tom Berenger who played General Longstreet and
Martin Sheen who was General Lee. Discover who made their movie debut as
Please invite any guest that would like join
us for this fantastic program.
Gerridine La Rovere
March 8, 2017 Program:
The Making of the Movie Gettysburg
will be presented by Patrick Falci, actor and performing historian.
He portrayed A.P. Hill in the movie.
Patrick Falci always gives a
mesmerizing program as he did last year portraying AP Hill.
Patrick was historical advisor for the movies
Gods and Generals
that were written and directed by Bob Maxwell.
In addition to the historical research and supplying photographs
of the era, Patrick scouted out locations in Maryland for the films.
Patrick took Maxwell on a Stonewall Jackson tour of Civil War
battlefields and other historical sites.
Patrick played Rough Rider #2 in producer/actor Tom Berenger’s
film of the same name. He,
served as Jeff Shaara’s historical advisor, and provided research and
tours of Civil War sites portrayed in his books.
Patrick vetted John Jakes’s manuscripts for
On Secret Service
at its editor’s request.
February 8, 2017:
Our speaker was David Meisky who presented
A history graduate of George Mason University, Mr. Meisky retired
from the Fairfax County, Public Library.
He has re-enacted for a number of years and started appearing as
“Extra Billy” Smith in the spring of 2008, after a good deal of study.
He has also performed a first-person portrayal of Captain David
Meade, a Confederate army paymaster, which allowed him to display and
discuss his collection of period money.
As an infantry private, he has served for a number of years with
the Fairfax Rifles, Company D of the 17th Virginia Infantry Regiment.
In 1861 the Confederate States establish a financial system based on
paper currency with seven issues of money (an issue means that congress
authorized the Treasury to print and circulate a stated amount),
totaling about 80,000,000 individual bills with a face value of about
$1,700,000,000. The bills
were issued from the Treasury Department in Richmond but were printed by
nine, actually ten but more on the tenth later, firms located in
Richmond, Charlotte NC, Columbia SC, Augusta Ga., and early on in New
Confederate bills were actually promissory notes.
On each bill in the first four issues it would say "Six months",
later changed to "Two years" starting with the fifth issue, "after the
ratification of a treaty of peace between the Confederate States and the
United States the Confederate States will pay" whatever the amount of
the bill was. There were a
few bills such as the fourth issue $100 that were interest bearing, in
this case interest was two cents a day.
The bills were printed without signatures or serial numbers and these
were later added by hand.
The Treasury employed about 400 people, the majority women, to hand sign
and number these bills.
These people would sign their own name since they were signing for the
register or treasurer, not attempting to mimic these official’s
signatures. There was
concern about women signing and verifying these bills since at the time
women did not usually have any financial rights but by having everyone
sign with their first initial and last name you could not see that the
signature was that of a woman.
An exception was the 3 million $.50 bills of the sixth and
seventh issue which had printed signatures.
The bills were printed in sheets of from four to nine images depending
on the denomination and issue although the usual number was eight on a
sheet. All the bills on the
sheet were identical except for the plate position, a letter from A to H
on each bill, which showed the position of that image on the sheet.
When the bills were numbered every bill on that sheet received
the same number but that number combined with the plate position insured
that each bill had a unique identification.
Before the war, it was very unusual for bills to be printed on the back.
Some early CSA denominations were blank on the back but the
Treasury started having designs printed on the backs of some bills and
by the seventh issue the design had been standardized with just the
amount changing for the various denomination.
The bills had a number of designs that included portraits of Confederate
leaders and various scenes, called vignettes, on different subjects.
These vignettes were like modern computer clip art in that
printers would have a number of different ones handy to use when
designing a bill's layout.
When dealing with a large firm you would have a choice of a number of
vignettes while a local printer might only have several available.
This means the same vignette might appear on a number of
unrelated bills issued by different organizations.
You will occasionally see Confederate bills with notches or
semi-circles cut out of the edge or center of a note.
This is to indicate that this is a note that has been withdrawn
from circulation and is on its way back to the Treasury to be destroyed.
Although they were produced in a number of locations all the bills had
"Richmond" printed on them since they were issued from the Treasury
Department located in that city along with the date that issue was
authorized by congress. The
exception is the first issue in February, 1861, which was printed by the
National Banknote Company in New York City (the tenth printer I
mentioned earlier) and issued from Montgomery, AL., the capital at that
time. There were four
denominations in that issue: $1000, $500, $100, and $50 with just over
600 of each being issued.
Since there were so few these bills were actually signed by the
Treasurer and Registrar.
Although when they were first issued in spring of 1861 a Confederate
dollar was worth almost as much as a gold dollar but as the war
progressed the value of Confederate paper fell so that in January 1863 a
gold dollar was worth $3.00 in Confederate paper, $18.00 in January
1864, $34.00 in January 1865, and by the final collapse in April of 1865
Confederate paper money was practically worthless.
There were other forms of paper money used in the South during the war
with over 270 local government entities - states, counties, and cities -
issuing currency. The state
of Florida printed about $900,000 in notes backed by the state's public
lands. Many of these state
and local bills were "fractional" bills, that is for amounts less than
one dollar. There was
little local issue in Florida while Virginia had a great deal of local
issue with 58 counties and 16 cities producing their own bills.
Like Confederate currency these were promises by the state or
locale to pay. With the
collapse of the Confederacy there was no one to redeem Confederate money
but the states and counties are still in business.
However, they cannot redeem any of the state or local issue since
the last article of the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution states
that "... neither the United States nor any state shall assume or pay
any debt or obligation incurred in aid of insurrection or rebellion
against the United States..."
There was no government issue of paper money before the war but there
were many bills issued by private concerns in circulation.
Banks, railroads, canal companies, steamship lines, and others
would issue their own currency.
Some of these were reputable organizations while some were fly by
night scams. Since none of
this was legal tender, money that Congress said you had to accept, you
had the choice of accepting or rejecting any bill that was presented to
you. The US started
printing paper money, "greenbacks" and some of this worked its way south
but, in 1864 the Confederate Congress passed a law forbidding the
private ownership and use of Yankee greenbacks.
The war and the establishment of the CSA opened new opportunities for
practitioners of the long established American industry of
counterfeiting. An article
in one of the New York newspapers in 1860 estimated that maybe 40%,
possibly more, of the private bills in circulation were counterfeits.
Two of the main producers of bogus Confederate bills, also bonds
and stamps, were Samuel Upham in Philadelphia and Winthrop Hilton in New
York. Both the men were
producing fac-similes (that's how the word was spelled back then) of
Confederate bills as "mementos of the rebellion", souvenirs in other
words. They both produced
good quality reproductions which were being distributed, mainly by Union
troops, throughout areas of the south.
The Confederate economy and financial system was shaky enough
without this influx of funny money.
In December of 1863 the New York Police intercepted a letter from
a known Confederate agent to a suspected Confederate operative which
indicated that Hilton was actually producing bills that were to be
smuggled south and issued by the Confederate Treasury Department as
legitimate Confederate Currency.
They arrested Hilton and confiscated his plates, press, and
stock. They had to release
Hilton in a couple of days but retained his materials for six months
before returning everything to Hilton.
By then real CSA bills were so available and cheap it didn't pay
to counterfeit them. While
Hilton may have been doing business with the Confederates it is more
likely that the Confederate Secret Service set Hilton up with a fake
letter to get the NYPD to put him out of business.
Most people are aware of Confederate paper money but did the Confederacy
mint coins? This is a
difficult question as there are two possible answers: “Yes, but…” or
“No, however…” In 1861
there were five United States mints.
Two of them, the main mint in Philadelphia and the newest mint in
San Francisco, were in states that remained in the Union while the mints
in Charlotte, North Carolina; Dahlonega, Georgia; and New Orleans were
in what became the Confederate States.
Of these three, New Orleans was the largest while the other two
were smaller operations that had been established in the early 1840s to
take advantage of gold strikes in these areas.
In January of 1861, the Federal government produced about 330,000 silver
(actually 90 percent silver and 10 percent copper) half dollars at New
Orleans. When Louisiana
seceded, the state took over the mint and continued production, turning
out about 124,000 of the coins.
They used the original die (the die is what actually creates the
image on the blank coin) so their coins still said “United States of
America.” The Confederate
Treasury Department then took over and minted another 963,000 United
States half dollars. Coins
of this period contained approximately the amount of metal equal to the
face value of the coin and these Louisiana - and Confederate-produced
coins had the same amount of silver as the U.S. - produced coins and
were thus just as valuable.
There is no way to determine if an individual coin was minted by the
U.S., Louisiana, or the Confederacy as the same workers used the same
die and machines and the coins had the same amount of silver.
Louisiana and the Confederacy also minted United States double eagle
($20) gold coins in New Orleans.
The product runs for these coins was about 5,000 by the U.S.,
9,750 by Louisiana, and 2991 by the Confederacy.
The South also minted a total of approximately 10,000 United
States gold $1 and $5 coins at Charlotte and Dahlonega before running
out of stock and closing down these two operations.
The Confederate States, as an independent nation, wanted to produce
their own coins, not just copy U.S. coins, so it was decided to mint
Confederate silver half dollars.
The first thing everyone recognized was that Miss Liberty was a
southern belle, not a Yankee, so her image as it appeared on the U.S.
half dollar could also appear on the Confederate coin, meaning that a
new die would not have to be created.
Manufacturing the die was the hardest and most technical
challenging aspect of coining.
A new die was created for the reverse side of the coin and four
of the coins were struck and given to four individuals.
The idea was that the coins would be examined and a decision made
as to whether production would continue with that design.
The fall of New Orleans in the spring of 1862 ended Confederate
control of the New Orleans mint so no more of these coins were produced.
These four Confederate half dollars have an interesting post-war
history. They were out of
sight for a number of years in private hands but over the course of time
they reappeared in public view.
The first surfaced in 1879 when the man who had initially
received it, Mr. B. F. Taylor, the chief coiner of the New Orleans Mint
in 1861, sold it along with the die for the reverse, Confederate, side
of the coin. This coin in
now in the American Numismatic Association’s collection.
The next, which had been given to Dr. E. Adams of New Orleans, did not
appear until 1910 when a collector found it in a wrapped roll of half
dollars he received from a bank.
It is now the property of the Newman Numismatic Education
The third has the most interesting history.
It was given to the mint superintendent, William Elmore, who sent
it to Secretary of the Treasury Christopher Memminger, who in turn
passed it on to President Jefferson Davis.
It was with Davis when he left Richmond on April 2, 1865, and was
in his wife’s luggage when he was captured in Georgia.
On the boat trip to Fortress Monroe, the luggage was searched and
the coin was pilfered. When
it reappeared at an auction in 1938 it was being sold as a Scott
restrike (more about them later), although its authenticity as one of
the original four was later established.
The last came to public view in 1971 after passing through several
owners, starting with the 1861 New Orleans Postmaster John Riddell. The
Davis and Riddell coins were both sold in separate auctions several
months ago, with the Davis coin commanding a high bid of $881,250 while
the Riddell was a steal at $646,250.
The first of these Confederate half dollars was sold, along with the
die, in 1879 to John W. Scott.
The die was not in the best condition but Scott cleaned it up and
decided to produce some restrikes.
Since he didn’t have a die for the Miss Liberty face of the coin,
he produced 500 tokens with the Confederate side and a message on the
front that this was a restrike from an original die.
This worked well, so he decided to produce 500 coins resembling
the originals. Since he
didn’t have the Miss Liberty die, he obtained 500 original 1861 half
dollars, shaved the backs smooth, and then used the Confederate die to
strike an image on the shaved surface.
The result was a real 1861 U.S. half dollar that appears to be a
Confederate half dollar although of slightly less weight due to the
shaving of the back and with a slightly flattened Miss Liberty image
because of pressure during the restrike.
As previously mentioned, when the original Davis coin appeared in
1938 it was first thought to be one of these restrikes.
Mr. Scott then defaced the die so there would be no more
restrikes, thus helping to maintain the value of his coins.
The die went through several hands until some years later when
the listed owner stated he had donated it to the Louisiana State
Historical Society. The
Society checked its holdings and could not find the die nor could it
find any record that it had ever been donated.
Keep your eyes open because somewhere out there in the land of
auctions, flea sales, and antique stores may be the Confederate half
There was a period of about two months from February to April of 1861
when the Confederate States was an established nation but there was as
yet no war. In late February, the Confederate Treasury Department
contracted with a company in Philadelphia to produce pennies (one cent
coins) for the Confederacy.
The job was assigned to Mr. Robert Lovett, who designed the coin,
created the die, and produced 12 samples, in nickel, to be sent to
Richmond for approval.
However, a slight snag developed:
The war had started and producing Confederate coins in Philly
didn’t seem like the greatest of ideas to Mr. Lovett.
Not wanting to get in trouble with Federal authorities, he buried
the twelve coins and the two dies in his basement and kept his mouth
shut. The Confederate
Treasury never heard from him, and given the conditions never expected
to hear from him, and so assumed that nothing had been produced.
Following the war Lovett did two things:
He dug up and started carrying one of the coins as a good luck
piece and he became somewhat of a drunk.
One evening in 1871 he was engaged in his favorite activity and
when he settled his bar tab he wasn’t paying attention, or was beyond
paying attention, and gave the bartender the Confederate penny.
Barkeeps are notably sharp-eyed when it comes to customer
payments and he spotted the unusual coin.
The cat, or in this case the coin, was out of the bag and Mr.
Lovett ended up selling the twelve coins and the two dies to a collector
named John Haseltine.
Haseltine sold the 12 coins (one of them fetched $141,000 at a recent
auction) and decided to produce a limited number of restrikes in various
metals. The originals were
made of nickel, so he produced seven coins in gold, 12 in silver, and 55
in copper. He then defaced
both dies. These defaced
dies were obtained some years later by Robert Bashlow, who in 1961 did
restrikes with the damaged die: 2,500 in silver, 5,000 in goldine, and
10,000 copper. The dies
were then donated to the Smithsonian Institute.
This brings us back to the original question:
Did the Confederacy mint coins? YES, BUT they were all U.S. coins
except for four half-dollar coins plus 12 one-cent coins someone else
minted that the Confederate government never actually owned.
NO, HOWEVER there are a very limited number of samples that were
minted by, or for, the Confederacy in addition to a number of
non-Confederate coins that they produced.
If you go to the gift shop at any battlefield or historical site,
you will probably be able to buy reproductions of the penny and half
dollar and perhaps some reproductions of Confederate coins that never
existed such as $5 and $20 imaginary gold coins.
The pennies and half dollars are sometimes labeled “restrikes”
but they are not. A
restrike is made with the original die while these are reproductions.
There was discussion during the war about producing Confederate
gold coins but no design or samples were ever created.
An interesting side note is that although the image of Robert E. Lee
never appeared on any Confederate bill or coin it has appeared on at
least two United States coins: the 1925 Stone Mountain commemorative
half dollar and the 1937 Battle of Antietam half dollar.
Also on the Stone Mountain half dollar next to Lee is Stonewall
Jackson. Stonewall also
appears on a Confederate $500 bill, making him one of three people whose
image has appeared on both Confederate and U.S. money.
The other two are Andrew Jackson and George Washington.
Last changed: 03/01/17