Discussion Confederate Money

Fewer ads. Lots of American Civil War content!
JOIN NOW: REGISTER HERE!

lurid

Sergeant
Joined
Jan 3, 2019
Notice that the inflation rate took of in July 1863 -- loss of confidence in achieving independence. The fall in the rate in early 1864 was caused by an anti-inflation measure -- replacing old issue notes with new ones, at a reduced rate. Inflation took off again in December of 1864 with the loss of Savannah. It really took off in March as Columbia fell and Sherman moved toward Richmond unhindered.

The amount of currency in circulation was less a factor than the los of confidence. Much of the currency was in large notes and was held by the banks and major industries, not circulated much in the market.

Our money today is not backed by anything but confidence, and even though we have issued vast amounts of digital and paper currency, our inflation rate is very low -- because of the confidence of the holders of the money.
The main thing I noticed is that you pointed out hyperinflation peaks, and neglected to notice that stagflation was there in 1861. Subsequently, hyperinflation crept in February of 1862 and baselined and had peaks and troughs until the war ended. From February of 1862 to the end of the war hyperinflation was the new homeostasis, which is why the Confederate monetary policy was so ineffective. I don't know how you are reading that graph? And don't know how you can state "inflation took off" in 1863? It took off in 1861 with 21% by November of that year, which I hope you don't think 21% is not "high" inflation??

The Confederate monetary system at that juncture was in a major contraction, so they decided to print money that further devalued their currency. You pointed out two major setbacks that both caused a peak in already hyperinflated monetary system. All those two major events did was culminate hyperinflation and further devalued the greyback, neither one caused hyperinflation initially because it already set in and the greyback was already devalued. After the first major defeat the hyperinflation troughed back down to baseline, so why did that happen? I agree with your statements somewhat, but why was the Confederate currency hyperinflated at the beginning of 1862 before those two major events occurred and when the Confederates were still winning battles?


I'll reiterate: inflation set in around the end of 1861, then hyperinflation set in at the beginning of 1862, which it baselined until the end of the war and it did peak to unprecedented levels during the times you stated.
 

DaveBrt

2nd Lieutenant
Joined
Mar 6, 2010
Location
Charlotte, NC
The main thing I noticed is that you pointed out hyperinflation peaks, and neglected to notice that stagflation was there in 1861. Subsequently, hyperinflation crept in February of 1862 and baselined and had peaks and troughs until the war ended. From February of 1862 to the end of the war hyperinflation was the new homeostasis, which is why the Confederate monetary policy was so ineffective. I don't know how you are reading that graph? And don't know how you can state "inflation took off" in 1863? It took off in 1861 with 21% by November of that year, which I hope you don't think 21% is not "high" inflation??

The Confederate monetary system at that juncture was in a major contraction, so they decided to print money that further devalued their currency. You pointed out two major setbacks that both caused a peak in already hyperinflated monetary system. All those two major events did was culminate hyperinflation and further devalued the greyback, neither one caused hyperinflation initially because it already set in and the greyback was already devalued. After the first major defeat the hyperinflation troughed back down to baseline, so why did that happen? I agree with your statements somewhat, but why was the Confederate currency hyperinflated at the beginning of 1862 before those two major events occurred and when the Confederates were still winning battles?


I'll reiterate: inflation set in around the end of 1861, then hyperinflation set in at the beginning of 1862, which it baselined until the end of the war and it did peak to unprecedented levels during the times you stated.
Hyperinflation is when prices rise rapidly and uncontrollably. If you will read the prices quoted in the newspapers, you will see that they stayed steady for months at a time, the jumped to a new level. People and industry were willing to make contracts for a year at a time, with no inflation clause, because hyperinflation did not hit until late 1864. Obviously 20% monthly inflation is not desirable, but it was something they lived with for a couple of years; the reset in early 1864 gave a brief respite before the hyper hit.

Also, I suspect the chart is based on information from a few newspapers and reflected city inflation, which typically was more than country inflation, which is one reason people out of the bigger towns and cities were able to survive.
 
Fewer ads. Lots of American Civil War content!
JOIN NOW: REGISTER HERE!

lurid

Sergeant
Joined
Jan 3, 2019
Hyperinflation is when prices rise rapidly and uncontrollably. If you will read the prices quoted in the newspapers, you will see that they stayed steady for months at a time, the jumped to a new level. People and industry were willing to make contracts for a year at a time, with no inflation clause, because hyperinflation did not hit until late 1864. Obviously 20% monthly inflation is not desirable, but it was something they lived with for a couple of years; the reset in early 1864 gave a brief respite before the hyper hit.

Also, I suspect the chart is based on information from a few newspapers and reflected city inflation, which typically was more than country inflation, which is one reason people out of the bigger towns and cities were able to survive.
Look, that chart shows that in in February of 1862 inflation was 69%, then it rose to 102% by July and then it increased to 136% in December and then it rose to 400% in April of 1863, and that's hyperinflation. I posted a graph on how shoes were hyperinflated in 1862 through 1865. I would love to see the price index on Confederate goods..
 

Lubliner

Sergeant Major
Joined
Nov 27, 2018
Location
Chattanooga, Tennessee
How many others have noticed that the Yankees on Calvary Expeditions, and foraging details would pay the southerner with their own currency? From early on, and I cannot point exactly when, the confederate currency was being confiscated by the Yankees and used in trade-offs back to the confederacy. I am not sure how this reflected on inflation, but the cause has more to do with just the imbalance of paper versus gold and silver on hand to cover it. The confederacy confiscated a huge amount of gold and silver from the southern mints early in the war, and ended up near Columbus, Georgia, I think (? Beauregard special order). Printing an overabundance of paper money without a foundation base, but the European market and denial of acceptance as a nation had an impact too. Those negotiations fell through soon after the Mason-Slidell affair. Speculation Failure?
Lubliner.
 
Joined
Mar 1, 2019
Location
Dedham, MA
Early in the war the lack of engravers and the ability to produce printing plates was a problem for the new government regarding bonds and I assume paper money. Gazaway Lamar was a Southerner who had founded a Wall Street bank and did a lot of work for the Southern states. For a brief time between the formation of the Confederacy and the outbreak of the Civil War, Gazaway. B. Lamar, still living in New York, was able to help the new Southern government and when that government wanted to issue bonds but couldn’t find engravers capable of the work. Lamar was able to get the job done in New York. Not long after that, the Confederate Secretary of the Treasury requested that Lamar have the engraved plates sent to him, but the Federal authorities seized them before he could send them. The New York engravers, in a display of loyalty to their customer, had defaced the plates before handing them over to Federal authorities. (In order to address the shortage of engravers in the South, the Confederate government eventually had a group of qualified men brought in from Scotland on a blockade runner. When the runner was attacked and ran aground, they were forced to take to the small boats to make it safely into Wilmington, North Carolina.) After the start of the war, Gazaway Lamar moved back to Savannah and founded the Importing and Exporting company of Georgia.
 
Fewer ads. Lots of American Civil War content!
JOIN NOW: REGISTER HERE!

Lubliner

Sergeant Major
Joined
Nov 27, 2018
Location
Chattanooga, Tennessee
Even with the plates and engravers, paper was so scarce in the confederacy after a time, how could money be printed?

On a different tact, I was shopping used books in McKay's years ago, and leafing through them. In one was a 500 dollar confederate note with Jackson's image. Of course it was a replication of little value (I think??) but it was not in the book I wanted to purchase. So I shamefully moved it into the book I bought and checked out with. I felt like the library thief in A. S. Byatt's novel 'Possession'.
Lubliner.
 

Polloco

2nd Lieutenant
Joined
Sep 15, 2018
Location
South Texas
Even with the plates and engravers, paper was so scarce in the confederacy after a time, how could money be printed?

On a different tact, I was shopping used books in McKay's years ago, and leafing through them. In one was a 500 dollar confederate note with Jackson's image. Of course it was a replication of little value (I think??) but it was not in the book I wanted to purchase. So I shamefully moved it into the book I bought and checked out with. I felt like the library thief in A. S. Byatt's novel 'Possession'.
Lubliner.
The much needed paper is one of the ironies of this war. The paper was probably smuggled in,mostly from England, and not paid for with Confederate Money.And at one time there were 20 paper mills in the South calling for rags as paper was not produced from wood pulp like it was later.
 
Last edited:

Polloco

2nd Lieutenant
Joined
Sep 15, 2018
Location
South Texas
Most collectors of Confederate Money know there were 7 issues of currency but an 8th was authorized by Congress. This was on March 18, 1865, but it was vetoed by Jefferson Davis. This was for $80,000,000 to pay the Army but had it not been vetoed how was it going to reach the soldiers hands?
 
Fewer ads. Lots of American Civil War content!
JOIN NOW: REGISTER HERE!

BillH

Private
Joined
Sep 14, 2017
Location
SW Idaho
Even with the plates and engravers, paper was so scarce in the confederacy after a time, how could money be printed?

...snip...
Lubliner.
Studying all the different papers used is part of the fascination for me in collecting Confederate notes. Some of the paper is quite poor, but others are pretty good. And you could make a whole collection just of the different watermarks. All but one of the states printed their own issues of currency as well and the shortage of paper led some to print new notes on the backs of old bonds and unissued old notes. There is a thread about that here
 

Polloco

2nd Lieutenant
Joined
Sep 15, 2018
Location
South Texas
Studying all the different papers used is part of the fascination for me in collecting Confederate notes. Some of the paper is quite poor, but others are pretty good. And you could make a whole collection just of the different watermarks. All but one of the states printed their own issues of currency as well and the shortage of paper led some to print new notes on the backs of old bonds and unissued old notes. There is a thread about that here
One of the watermarks that fascinates me is the "Hodgkinson &Co Wookey Hole Mill" that was smuggled in from England. Quality paper.
 

BillH

Private
Joined
Sep 14, 2017
Location
SW Idaho
One of the watermarks that fascinates me is the "Hodgkinson &Co Wookey Hole Mill" that was smuggled in from England. Quality paper.
Yes. A very rare watermark and I'd love to have one in my collection someday (haven't found one yet at a price I can tolerate). Perhaps the other "most rare" watermarked Confederate paper is some "CSA" watermarked paper that was captured by the blockade and later used on some Federal notes... haven't tracked that one down yet, but I expect it would be a bit spendy.
 
Fewer ads. Lots of American Civil War content!
JOIN NOW: REGISTER HERE!

Polloco

2nd Lieutenant
Joined
Sep 15, 2018
Location
South Texas
Yes. A very rare watermark and I'd love to have one in my collection someday (haven't found one yet at a price I can tolerate). Perhaps the other "most rare" watermarked Confederate paper is some "CSA" watermarked paper that was captured by the blockade and later used on some Federal notes... haven't tracked that one down yet, but I expect it would be a bit spendy.
Right a little out of my price range too but still fascinating. Somehow Wookey Hole just doesn't strike me as a British sounding name. You can almost bet rolls of this paper were not paid for with paper money.
 

BillH

Private
Joined
Sep 14, 2017
Location
SW Idaho
Speaking of Wookey Hole notes, I notice armynova on the bay has a pretty nice one listed now... it wasn't there yesterday evening. IF I didn't have bids out on other things right now I'd be tempted...

internet forums are awful for those of us with collector genes 😛
 
Fewer ads. Lots of American Civil War content!
JOIN NOW: REGISTER HERE!

Polloco

2nd Lieutenant
Joined
Sep 15, 2018
Location
South Texas
I don't remember all ths details but a really fascinating read is the story behind E C Elmore. His signature appears on some of the notes as Treasurer. I think He even appears in Mary Chestnuts diary. It gives you an insight into Richmond. He fought a duel with a newspaper man. Got fired (I think) for gambling debts. He struck me as a very arrogant guy. The other signature that pops up is R. O. Tyler, the Register. He was the son of John Tyler, the ex president and CS senator.
 

A. Roy

Private
Joined
Sep 2, 2019
Location
Raleigh, North Carolina
Speaking of Wookey Hole notes, I notice armynova on the bay has a pretty nice one listed now... it wasn't there yesterday evening. IF I didn't have bids out on other things right now I'd be tempted...
Ooh, yes, I see the one you're talking about. I don't think I could get away with it, as the price is higher than the value of my wife's car...

Roy B.
 
Fewer ads. Lots of American Civil War content!
JOIN NOW: REGISTER HERE!

James N.

Colonel
Forum Host
Civil War Photo Contest
Annual Winner
Featured Book Reviewer
Joined
Feb 23, 2013
Location
East Texas
… On a different tact, I was shopping used books in McKay's years ago, and leafing through them. In one was a 500 dollar confederate note with Jackson's image. Of course it was a replication of little value (I think??) but it was not in the book I wanted to purchase. So I shamefully moved it into the book I bought and checked out with. I felt like the library thief in A. S. Byatt's novel 'Possession'.
Lubliner.
Once while perusing volumes in Dallas' largest used book store HalfPrice Books, I was thumbing through a copy of John Toland's biography Adolf Hitler where I found a crisp new $50 bill - several pages later I also found the bank envelope it probably had come in! However, unlike you I didn't buy the book (I already owned one of a two-volume set of the title) and simply pocketed the bill and thanked my good fortune; I did buy something else though!
 
Joined
Sep 29, 2016
Location
Middle Tennessee
They're not shown here, but politician R. M. T. Hunter is on the 1864-issue ten and Stonewall Jackson is on the 1864 five hundred; V.P. Alexander Stephens is on the twenty (marked XX) in the third row from the bottom at left; Secretary of the Treasury Christopher Meminger is on the two fives in the first two rows; Secretary of State and War Judah P. Benjamin is on the two at bottom right; and I believe it's Lucy Holcombe Pickens on that one at right in the second row from the bottom.

In @Larryh86GT post the personalities are, top-to-bottom Secretary of War George W. Randolph (grandson of Thomas Jefferson), R. M. T. Hunter; Alex Stephens; and Davis.
I found the Stephens 1864 $20 Richmond note from a dealer in North Carolina a couple months ago and gave it to my Aunt as a present, since it has the Tennessee State Capitol in the background. Granted, it wasn't anywhere close to mint condition nor did I drop serious money on the note, but I found it to be pretty cool history, indeed.
 
Fewer ads. Lots of American Civil War content!
JOIN NOW: REGISTER HERE!
Top