First Issue - 1861

The first issue of Confederate paper money was authorized by the Act of March 9, 1861 that "authorized Treasury notes to be issued for such sum or sums as the exigencies of the public service may require, but not to exceed at any time one million dollars, and of denominations not less than fifty dollars for any such note." The value of these bills was payable "twelve months after date" and earned interest of one cent per day for each one hundred dollars. Once bills were redeemed more could be printed so long as the total value did not exceed one million dollars. The total number of bills issued from this act were of a value of $2,021,100. The Act of March 9, 1861 expired on March 1, 1862.

Montgomery Issue of 1861

The earliest notes of this issue are dated from Montgomery, Alabama, which was the Confederate capital until May 24, 1861 when the government was moved to Richmond, Virginia. The notes ranged from $50 to $1000.
The National Bank Note Company in New York City engraved and printed this first issue. All of the early notes printed for the South were produced by northern companies and shipped to the South. Though this may be a surprising situation, New York was home to many southern sympathizers, including Mayor Wood.
The vignettes used on this issue were not particularly "southern" in their themes and were, for the most part, images used on many examples of northern currency. Vignettes, by nature, were complex engravings that required time and money to produce and so were not treated as disposable items. All of these designs were copyrighted by their engravers. Northern vignettes were common on the first four Confederate issues.
The dates were written on these bills. The Register (Alexander B. Clitherall) and Treasurer (E. C. Elmore) endorsed the bills on the reverse. A few $500 notes bear the signature of C. T. Jones who took over Clitherall's position. The notes of the first issue were printed on bank note paper and were often "cut-cancelled." The bills were to be held to collect the interest, a function similar to bonds. The notes were not bonds, however, but "interest bearing paper money."

Richmond Issue of 1861

This issue was printed by the Southern Bank Note Company as the war had begun before the National Bank Note Company could print more lower denominations as requested by the Confederate Secretary of the Treasury, C. G. Memminger. The plates used by the National Bank Note Company were seized by the U. S. Government.
Memminger then contracted with Samuel Schmidt, the manager of the New Orleans branch of the American Bank Note Company, to produce more $50 and $100 notes. Schmidt completed these notes August 26, 1861.
During this time, Schmidt changed the name of the company to the Southern Bank Note Company. This name appears on the bills, which were printed on red fibre paper under the same act as the Montgomery Issue. The dates were handwritten, and the bills were endorsed by Robert Tyler, the son of John Tyler (10th president of the U.S.), who had taken the position of Register, and E. C. Elmore (Treasurer).

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