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The E-Sylum: Volume 12, Number 7, February 15, 2009, Article 3

BOOK REVIEW: A GUIDE BOOK OF SOUTHERN STATES CURRENCY BY HUGH SHULL

New subscriber Duke Snider submitted the following review of the Whitman book by Hugh Shull on Southern States Currency. -Editor
Hugh Shull, Guide Book of Southern States Currency The Official Red Book - A Guide Book of Southern States Currency is written on the building blocks set by Colonel Grover Criswell. Paper currency expert Hugh Shull is nearly successful in presenting an authoritative guide to the state-issued money of the South, from the pre-Civil War era through the war years, and into the late 1800's. The photos are full color, the pages are a good quality paper, the binding is spiral but neatly done within a very solid hard cover, and the information is detailed and exceptional. The book is written by Hugh Shull and features a foreword by Q. David Bowers and illustrations predominately from the collection of Gene D. Mintz.

For those who like the techno stuff about books we have provided the following:

Publisher: Whitman Publishing, LLC; Atlanta, Georgia.
ISBN: 079-482057-3
Format: Spiral
Year Published: 2007
Edition No.: First
Suggested retail price: $24.99

The book is very well done. The illustrations are large, they are in color, easy to read and the variants are listed in a manner easy to follow and understand. One of the best thing about this book I found is if the note had an illustrated back, the back of the note was photographed and included as well, unlike other books which might only describe the note the as having a "bright blue back with the denomination written in letters" or some other vague reference such as, "has a scene of a woman with water jug in the right corner and Minerva in the left" - assuming everyone knew who Minerva was this might be acceptable but reference books should always be written for the illiterate and uninformed.

Most, if not all the notes for the majority of the Southern States were covered in good detail, and I found it to be an nice piece of work with the following exclusions. Every southern state with the exception of Virginia was adequately covered. In fact, Virginia was barely covered at all. This was a BIG DISAPPOINTMENT as a great many Civil War era notes - and the majority of the most common ones were issued by Virginia. These notes were not there at all! This is MAJOR OMISSION that would have turned a "NICE" piece of Work into an IMPRESSIVE PIECE of work.

The fact this entire section was omitted made an otherwise outstanding guide fall flat on its face and turn it into just another inadequately complete reference book. For the life of me I don't know why any writer or publisher for that matter would go so far in doing so much detail work on every other state and then simply end it in a major failure unless the intent was to sell the reader a second book devoted solely to Virginia notes which, in my opinion, is a lousy marketing strategy for the publisher and plain old stupidity on the writers part. It is my personal belief if one is going to devote so much effort into writing a guide or reference book it should be made as complete as possible and not simply cut off one of the major chapters.

The only other major flaw was in the cataloging of the items themselves. The writer uses CR numbers; however, they are duplicated for each state. In other words there is no definitive currency or note that is specifically related to one single number. A note from Texas will have the same number as a note from Arkansas. For example a CR 1 note in Arkansas is for an Arkansas Treasury Warrant with an rarity rating of 10. The same CR 1 number is used in Texas as well and is for an 1862 Treasury Warrant for that state as well and has a rarity of 4.

There are no separators as to what CR 1 really means. This problem could have been solved by simply starting alphabetically by state and the assigning of consecutive reference numbers for each note that followed or by adding an abbreviation Code for each state such as " ALCR1" for Alabama or "AKCR1" for Arkansas and a "TCR1" for Texas. I believe this would have simplified the catalog process and would have provided a second meaningful descriptive number when referencing a particular note type similar to the "T series" currently used for Confederate Currency identification. In fact sequential numbering of notes could be simplified into a chronological identification reference system of "C1", "C2", C3" and so on beginning in alphabetical order by state.

I found the pages in the book to be just a little too tightly bound, making turning the pages a little difficult and I can see the potential of the pages becoming loose from stress in time. I found the pages had to be carefully turned to keep them from binding. The spiral binding is a decent system; provided it is large enough to allow for page turning. The publisher might want to consider a slightly larger spiral in future editions in order to protect the pages from accidental tearing or simply wearing through from turning. They are quite tight. This is a minor distraction at first, but as the pages start to become loose because of lack of movement room it quickly becomes an irritation and downright frustration.

Overall the appearance of the book and the information it contained was very good and it is a valuable resource for everything but Virginia notes - a real sore spot for me - and shouldn't be overlooked simply because it lacks this. However if you want it for Civil War note identification only then you might be wasting your time and money and should pass as they aren't all covered. Hopefully, the publisher and writer will see the folly of their way and include this section into future editions and put in a corrected description in current editions until it is included because this book DOES NOT COVER ALL THE SOUTHERN STATE CURRENCY AND SHOULD NOT BE CONSIDERED A TRUE GUIDE UNTIL IT DOES.

Duke tells me Hugh has already been in touch with him and is working to correct some of the shortcoming noted in his review. -Editor




Wayne Homren, Editor

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