John and Nancy Wilson submitted this review of the new book by Pierre Fricke and Fred Reed. Thanks!
History of Collecting – Confederate States of America Paper Money, Volume 1, 1865 – 1945, By Pierre Fricke and Fred Reed, 2012, Copyright Pierre Fricke, Reviewed by: John and Nancy Wilson NLG
The recently released reference, History of Collecting – Confederate States of America Paper Money, Volume 1, 1865 – 1945, by Pierre Fricke and Fred Reed is a 340 page hardbound book with many full color illustrations. The Foreword was written by A. Hudson McDonald. McDonald stated, “Never had I realized there was such a history to the collecting of Confederate States of America (CSA) paper currency, nor appreciated the magnitude of the collectors, dealers, and sales quantities within this branch of numismatics during the time period 1865 – 1945.” The book has nine chapters, two appendixes, a bibliography, index and section about the authors. The reference includes a DVD which we will talk about later.
First Chapter: The Issue of CSA Paper Money. It started with the first sale of Confederate paper money by W. Elliot Woodward in NYC, on December 10, 1865. A $1000 Montgomery issue brought $4.75, and a $500 Montgomery $2.50. The CSA started in early 1861 to create bonds and paper money. Ten of the early notes are shown in color. Counterfeiting in the period of 1861-62 and solutions to this problem are discussed. It states that a complete type set of 70 regular issue notes would cost between $150,000 to $500,000.
Second Chapter: The First Collectors, 1865 - 1870s. Our good friend, Grover Criswell (1934-1999), laughingly told us about how he used to light his cigars using CSA notes. If still alive, we don’t think Grover would be doing that today. The early growth of the hobby started to evolve 1867 with advertisements in periodicals and many people making buying trips to the South in pursuit of CSA currency and bonds.
Early collectors were R. Alonzo Brock, Thomas Addis Emmet, who was the first cataloger of CSA currency and possessed 335 distinct varieties (which also included counterfeit and bogus issues). John Walter Scott, a stamp dealer, cataloger and numismatist. Scott’s “The Coin Collector’s Journal, Illustrated” commenced in 1875 and consisted of 13 volumes.
Third Chapter: Late 1870s and Early 1880s. The first decade of collecting CSA was labeled as the “hunter/gatherer” phase. Dr. William Lee (1841-1893) was the first serious cataloger of CSA currency. His reference “The Currency of The Confederate States of America was published in 1875 and only 30 copies were made. One of the early promoters of CSA currency was John W. Haseltine. The American Journal of Numismatics mentioned that in 1880 he was the foremost dealer in Confederate currency. Raphael Prosper Thian produced his rare and famous 1876 publication, “Confederate Note Album, For a Complete Collection,” of which only 25 were prepared. The 25 were filled with examples of CSA currency and given to dignitaries. An unknown amount of this publication were made (without notes enclosed) and sold to collectors.
Shortly after Thian published his, “Confederate Note Album, For a Complete Collection,” New York stamp dealer C. H. Bechtel issued a similar album in 1877. The Bechtel March 25, 1879 catalogue of J. E. Barratts collection is profusely covered with many illustrations of the lots along with their selling prices written in. CSA currency was so cheap at this time that businesses used actual notes and placed advertising on the blank backs. Another good friend of ours was Arlie Slabaugh, who left us some years back. Arlie was one of the first to comprehensively list known varieties of these advertising notes. His “Confederate States Paper Money” is now in its 13th Edition.
Fourth Chapter: More Action in the 1880s. By the 1880s, CSA material was red hot. Haseltine’s and Scott’s marketing practices worked. CSA President Jefferson Davis wrote a multi-volume reference in 1881, “In defense of the late war,” and his comments regarding CSA currency are interesting and thought provoking. Famous numismatists such as W. Elliot Woodward, Edouard Frossard, Charles Steigerwalt, The Chapman Brothers and Raphael Thian got involved.
Fifth Chapter: John C. Browne. Browne was one the greatest Confederate currency collectors of all time and had a CSA collection that contained more than 7,000 pieces. Part of the Browne collection was sold in 1922 by Stan V. Henkels.
Sixth Chapte: Late 1880s-1890s. An explosion of catalogs led to new discoveries, something desirable for both collectors and dealers. More numismatists are covered such as George Massamore, J. Thomas Scharf, the Scott Stamp and Coin Co. Edouard Frossard, Hiram Deats, Luther B. Tuthill, John A. Gill, Benjamin LaBree, Charles Barker, Lyman Low and William P. Titcomb.
Seventh Chapter: Early 1900s - Bradbeer Era. More information on Raphael P. Thian covers his employment in the Attorney General’s Office (AGO). He worked for the AGO for half a century passing in 1911. His work on Confederate Treasury Records while at the AGO “was largely obscure, and little heralded. Fortunately in 1944 his son Prosper sold many of these original compilations to Duke University, where they would be preserved and studied.”
According to the authors an important reference came into existence in 1901. Yale Professor John Christopher Schwab published a work “The Confederate States of America, 1861-1865: A Financial and Industrial History of the South During the Civil War”. In 1911 discussions were held on what to do with the vast stockpile of CSA notes in the hands of the U. S. Treasury Department. The gift by Archer M. Huntington to the American Numismatic Society in 1914 explains his donation of 2000 CSA notes to that society. One of the most prolific authors, William West Bradbeer wrote “Confederate and Southern States Currency” which was published in 1915 and became an immediate hit.
Eighth Chapter: Government Seizures of 1919. The complete story of this seizure of CSA notes by the Secret Service (because of fraudulent use), and the involvement of several prominent numismatists and coin clubs the government finally relented and buying and selling of CSA currency continued. We were also unaware of the Treasury Department’s destruction of 60 million CSA notes on May 1, 1920. The authors also provide information on the War Departments keeping their CSA notes.
Ninth Chapter: The 1920s - Early 1940s. Philatelist August Dietz, Sr. and his contributions to the understanding of engravers and printers of CSA currency is fully researched and covered along with photos. Numismatists, John E. Morse, David Todd, Wayte Raymond, Philip Chase, C. G. Memminger and D. C. Wismer are also discussed.
The early 1940s include the B. Max Mehl sale of the William F. Dunham collection which included CSA currency. Another important reference on the state of the CSA finances is covered with the reference by Professor Charles W. Ramsdell. In 1944 the professor authored “Behind the Lines in the Southern Confederacy.” The authors conclude that 65 years later “Ramsdell’s cogent arguments still mark his book as a classic.” Bradbeer’s 1915 work becomes the standard. Many important works by authors such as: The Chapman Brothers, Lyman Low, Thomas Elder, Lewis C. Gehring, William Hesslein, Milferd Henry Bolender, Barney Bluestone and the New Netherlands Coin Co (founded in 1936 by Moritz Wormser with his two sons and David Bullowa) are discussed.
A. “Notes on the Richmond Hoard.” The “Richmond Hoard” comprised 125 bankers boxes full of redeemed CSA currency with 5,500 notes in each box.
B. “CSA Paper Money Type Set.” Criswell Type 1 to Type 72 is illustrated along with Type XX1, XX2 T-47 and XX3 T-48.
The last and certainly not least is the wonderful DVD which is included in the back of the book. The DVD includes pictures of all the types of notes along with information about each note. Some of the rare notes also have all known serial numbers shown. The majority of all early auction catalogues are pictured with all pages and in some cases the prices realized. Many checklists are also shown in entirety. Fricke blogs are also shown.
We applaud Pierre and Fred for their comprehensive work and dedication on this reference. We think it will be a huge success in the numismatic hobby. It would be of help to a beginner as well as an advanced expert who collects or deals in CSA notes. We look forward to Part Two by these same authors in the months to come. We highly recommend this fantastic reference to everyone who has an interest in the monetary system of the South during the Civil War. The book may be ordered for $50 postpaid through the authors' websites
Wayne Homren, Editor
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