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Since our inception in 2013, Hurley Coins has advocated for a system of honest money in the United States, which can be brought about through the implementation of the gold standard.
There are $1.59 trillion worth of U.S. Federal Reserve notes in circulation. These notes are backed by nothing but the guarantee of the Fed, which is not a government organ but instead an independent agency mostly free of political oversight.
Reining in the excesses of the Federal Reserve and backing the currency with gold wouldn't be a restraint on economic growth, but it would serve the purpose of limiting the issuance of currency to the amount of specie present.
Hard money would reduce fear of inflation, which comes as a result of weak currency, and give the citizenry the satisfaction of knowing that their dollars have real value.
Hurley Coins is proud to endorse the efforts of Alex Mooney, a Republican congressman from West Virginia, who proposed H.R. 5404. The legislation wouldn't eliminate the Federal Reserve, but it would scale back its monetary manipulation and tether its efforts to the gold reserves of the U.S.
The Federal Reserve has the power to wreak havoc of Zimbabwean proportions, and Rep. Mooney's efforts -- if successful -- would hamper potentially disastrous ambitions.
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Confederate States paper money collecting is an oftentimes misunderstood numismatic subset, but it is one worth knowing a bit about.
The government of the Confederacy existed for only four years, eventually dismantling at the end of the Civil War (or the War Between the States). However, in that short time, they produced over seventy distinct issues of paper money in denominations ranging from 50 cents to $1,000.
The first four types of Confederate notes were printed in early 1861. At that point, the Confederate States of America's capital was still in Montgomery, Alabama, and this was reflected by the notes, which boldly read "Montgomery."
The bills' denominations were relatively high: $50, $100, $500, and $1,000. They were interest-bearing and backed by the biggest asset of the Confederacy: King Cotton. Since they were printed in minuscule quantities, they are extremely rare and collectible.
In October 2015, Heritage Auctions sold a mid-grade $1,000 note--which has portraits of U.S. President Andrew Jackson and Southern statesman John C. Calhoun, a career politician from South Carolina--for over $76,000. This is not an inflated number, either--only 607 were printed, and only He knows how many survived.
In May of 1861, the Confederate States government moved to its second capital, Richmond, the capital city of the Commonwealth of Virginia. There, the Confederacy's fiscal planners set off to develop the economy of a country that would be ravaged by hyperinflation and destruction over the course of the next three years of its existence.
While the Confederacy's various 1861 issues were diverse as far as the vignettes, portraits, and artistic elements present, 1862 marked the beginning of a standardization of Confederate paper. While designs changed throughout the course of that year, several individuals were essentially assigned to denominations:
1862 also bore one of the most popular (and inexpensive) Confederate notes ever printed: the Type-41 $100. On the obverse is John C. Calhoun, Lady Confederacy, and a vignette of slaves hoeing cotton. These notes start at $50 in Good/VG and are relatively cheap even in Choice Uncirculated.
In 1863, the designs of Confederate States paper money were fully standardized, and a 50 cent note--which depicted President Davis--was introduced.
Production of the paper money exploded, causing the value of the Confederate States dollar to slide considerably in comparison to specie (gold) and the Union dollar. This trend was exacerbated by the Union's string of battlefield victories after Gettysburg, which reduced the level of confidence of Europe (and the citizens themselves) in the Confederacy.
By 1864, the Confederate States dollar fell into absolute disarray as Keatinge & Ball, the Confederate States' currency manufacturer, pumped out millions after millions of notes that were backed by nothing.
For example, over nine million Type-68 1864 $10 notes were produced--even today, they only fetch $25 each in average condition.
It is also worth noting that the Confederacy reintroduced the $500 denomination in 1864. These notes have a portrait of General Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson, C.S.A., who died in 1863 and held heroic status across the Confederate domain. They also have a vignette of the flag of the Army of Northern Virginia, commonly recognized as the "Confederate flag," and the Confederate States seal of arms. Today, these bills start at $250 in Good condition.
While the market for Confederate States paper money was stagnant for the century that followed the end of the Civil War, it picked up a few decades ago and it has been booming ever since. As I mentioned prior, 1861 Montgomery issues fetch large sums, but regardless, many issues are extremely affordable.
For someone starting to collect Confederate States paper money, I would recommend buying five different issues:
As always, buy the best condition that you can afford.
If you are looking to do some more research on Confederate States paper money, a quick Internet search yields a great amount of results. Wikipedia has a wonderful page on the Confederate States dollar, which shows illustrations of all of the issues and the Type numbers associated with each one. You can actually see the notes I spoke of in this blog.
Before you make any purchases, verify the authenticity of the note by comparing its serial number to the spreadsheet of those known to be counterfeit at http://oldcurrencyvalues.com/fake_confederate_money/.
I would also recommend purchasing Pierre Fricke's Collecting Confederate Paper Money, a hefty hardcover book that was published in 2008 and republished--with updates--in 2014. While it does cost about $40 through Amazon Prime, it is extremely well-researched and has beautiful full-color illustrations.
Have a great Christmas and lots of fun collecting Confederate paper money.
Declan M. Hurley