Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Confederate Currency by Pierre Fricke

Confederate Currency
Confederate Currency provides an introduction to the currency issued by the Confederate States of America.  Seven different series of currency were distributed.  The first thing we learn is that the paper money issued by the government was unlike money today.  The bills were bonds or promissory notes redeemable two years after the peace was signed between the Union and Confederacy.  Some of the bonds had interest rates of 7.3%. 

Initially the currency was equivalent to gold, but as the war continued and Southern fortunes waned the exchange rate continued to fall from $6 Confederate to one dollar gold in May 1863 to $80 on April 15, 1865.  By the end of the war the notes were worthless, but within a decade their collectability was on the rise.  Today, some notes are valued in the thousands. 


Pierre Fricke's concise history describes the various companies involved in printing the bills.  Counterfeiting became a significant problem for the South as criminals and Union spies took advantage of some of the poorly crafted money.

The book is not a comprehensive text on Confederate currency.  It's intended to be an introduction to the subject.  A purpose that it meets.  Confederate Currency is fine when it focuses on the subject, but falls short when discussing military and political events,  I would have preferred more discussion of financial matters and the various players.

Mr. Fricke is an expert on Confederate currency and operator of a rare coin and paper money collecting business.  He has been collecting Civil-War-era coins since 1969 and currency since 2000.  He is the author of Collecting Confederate Paper Money, 2008 Field Edition.

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