The Numismatic Bibliomania Society



The E-Sylum: Volume 16, Number 10, March 10, 2013, Article 4


Fred Reed wrote a review of a new book on Confederate Currency by Jerry Wayne Hilton that was published in the March/April 2013 issue of Paper Money, the official monthly publication of the Society of Paper Money Collectors. With permission, we're republishing it here in its entirety. The article title is "Collector Hilton Shares Montgomery Insights". -Editor

Confederate_Currency_Cover5b_40_Confederate_Currency_Cover5b_35 Every writing course instructor stresses that authors should write about what they know best, so it should come as no surprise to Paper Money readers that South Carolina collector Wayne Hilton, who has assembled no fewer than 10 four-note condition census sets of high grade CSA Montgomery notes should have spun an amazing tome on this high-valued, historic series.

Any new book on Confederate currency is a cause for excitement. The appearance of a great new book on this topic is cause for joy. Collector-investor Jerry Wayne Hilton’s Collecting Confederate Currency Hobby or and Investment. Volume One: Criswell Types 1-4 “The Magnificent Montgomerys” is indeed such a book.

In it the author conveys his journey quantifying the investment return advantage (if any) enjoyed by a collector of high grade Montgomerys versus more traditional investments. To assess his position the author spent approximately 14 years attempting to record EVERY CSA Montgomery note sale at public auction since the Civil War.

Hilton then turned over his data to college professor and frequent Paper Money contributor Dr. Steve Feller, PhD to assess return rates over the last 150 years. According to Hilton’s data and Feller’s calculations, an investor in the marketplace over the entire last 150 years would have benefitted from purchases of CSA Montgomery notes compared to like investments in silver bullion, barrels of oil, or corporate stock (represented by the S&P Average).

The data and calculations reveal two distinct phases in investment growth over the last century and a half: (1) through World War II; and (2) since mid-20th century. Rates of return for investments considered (including CSA Montgomery Notes) accelerated in the more recent phase.

Having satisfied his desire to quantify and gauge his investment returns, investor Hilton proceeded to share his joy of collecting in the present volume, the first of several such books in which he plans to record the sales of the first 38 Criswell CSA types and the two so-called “essays.”

We are indebted to Wayne for importuning Chet Krause and Clarence Criswell to recall their own illustrious excursions into this field. By prevailing upon them to reveal hidden nuggets from personal experience, Wayne succeeded in coaxing them onto the historical record for readers not yet born to enjoy. Their essays are tiny gems.

Author Hilton also provides an interesting account of his own introduction to CSA currency collecting through his brother, and his background in media and advertising.

Following these very enjoyable preliminaries, Chapter 1 offers Hilton’s reasoned but highly selective, illustrated timeline of a century and a half of collecting CSA paper money that is very readable and his style pleasing. He includes many “firsts,” which the present reviewer also regards as hallmarks of this saga, but ignores – it must be admitted – other more important events during that time.

Chapter 2 provides a brief summary of numismatic auction history based on his first-hand, rigorous examination of thousands of auction catalogs.  However the gem of this chapter is his quantifying rarity of various CSA type notes based on frequency of auction appearances.

Chapter 3, co-authored by respected researcher, dealer Crutch Williams provides a highly speculative account of Montgomery note printing in the North early in 1861. In Chapter 4 statistician Feller explains his method of return rate calculations presented in the volume.

The meat of the book is Chapters 5-8, which detail ALL Montgomery note auction appearances Mr. Hilton could discover in some 30,000 or so numismatic auctions in the last 150 years. The author’s research is to be commended. His detailed listings and illustrations of the four Montgomery note types provide eye candy and solid historical data much appreciated by collectors and researchers in this field.

Quality printing, binding, paper and jacket (art by John W. Jones) compliment the work. However, this book is not perfect, nor should one expect the brainchild of an auteur to be so as a self-published work. This book would have been much stronger for me if the author had skipped Chapter 3 altogether. The book could be improved by an editor. It also begs a condition census, running heads, and index.

However its most serious failing is the author’s disregard of the accomplishments of Confederate currency author Pierre Fricke in the last decade. His contributions to the history of CSA note collecting are entirely excluded from the discussion except obliquely referenced in a single instance as “contemporary author” or something of the kind with regard to a Stack’s inventory of the remnants of the John Browne collection in 1969.

Given its great strengths, however, I highly recommend this book and look forward to the additional tomes. It will be interesting to see what Mr. Hilton does for an encore. The subsidized cost is modest $49.95 (offset by ad revenue) plus $5.00 postage & handling. Mail checks to J. Wayne Hilton, PO Box 1, Graniteville, SC 29829-0001. Mention whether an autograph is desired; I did!

Kolbe-Fanning website ad3new

Wayne Homren, Editor

NBS ( Web

The Numismatic Bibliomania Society is a non-profit organization promoting numismatic literature. See our web site at

To submit items for publication in The E-Sylum, write to the Editor at this address:

To subscribe go to:



Copyright © 1998 - 2020 The Numismatic Bibliomania Society (NBS)
All Rights Reserved.

NBS Home Page
Contact the NBS webmaster