Better late than never, I suppose. In the September 21, 2011 issue of Bank Note Reporter Fred Reed announced an important discovery - a previously unknown copy of Thian's Register of the Confederate Debt, one of the rarest works in American numismatic literature. Congratulations on some great detective work!
It’s time to rewrite the history books on Confederate States finance, and the evolution of Confederate currency collecting. A sixth example of the desirable and rare, original 1880 Register of the Confederate Debt by Raphael P. Thian has been unearthed. This, the latest Thian to be added to the “census” of “known extant” 1880 Registers, resides in a Virginia library, where it has languished unheralded collector-wise for the past 53 years.
Last month we reported on the “possible” existence of a sixth example of Raphael P. Thian’s original 1880 opus on Confederate paper money and bonds. News of this sixth original Thian was greeted by a range of responses within the CSA collecting community from jubilation to skepticism.
Now we can definitively go on the record. The newly discovered original Thian Register rests on the shelves of the Rare Book Room at the Virginia Historical Society, and has done so since the VHS purchased it in 1958 as part of a large acquisition of historical works from the library of a prominent Richmond attorney.
J. Wayne Hilton, owner of one of the greatest CSA currency collections of all time and possessor of the most recent example of an original Thian Register to cross the auction block (the John J. Ford example for which Hilton paid more than $35,000), welcomed the discovery. “I think this will be the greatest numismatic literature discovery of the past ??? years.… I cannot recall another scarce book being found in the past 50 or more years, so it might be greatest since 1880!” he told this writer.(1) Hilton further called the discovery and its confirmation “a major plus in the year of the 150th anniversary of Ft. Sumter.”(2)
For nearly 40 years collectors of Confederate currency have believed that Thian’s great work on the Rebel funded and unfunded debt, including his enumeration of most Rebel treasury note issues, was available in only five examples. We all have been led to believe that this was so because Dr. Douglas Ball told us that this was the case in his “Foreword” to the 1972 reprint edition of Thian’s Register.
“Thian’s Register of Issues of Confederate States Treasury Notes Together with Tabular Exhibits of the Debt, Funded and Unfunded of the Confederate States of America 1861-1865 is a classic example of a rare book, there being only five copies extant,” Ball wrote in 1972.(3)
Unfortunately, to this writer’s certain knowledge, Ball never published his list of the five locations that he knew of four decades ago. Although he may have orally communicated these five locations to others, he never did so to me, and I actually cannot recall ever having broached the subject with him. If a reader or readers knows Ball’s actual published or oral views on this subject, I would be very pleased to receive same.
It's a lengthy article I can't quote in its entirety here, so please do read the full version online. Fred enumerates all of the known extant copies, which required a good bit of legwork to track and confirm. Great job!
To read the complete article, see:
Rare Confederate Tome Discovered
Wayne Homren, Editor
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