Authorized by the Act of February
17, 1864 a seventh and final official issue of Confederate notes was printed in
unlimited quantities (probably about a billion dollars) by the Confederate
States government. As a result of
runaway inflation, the financial affairs of the South by this time were in
shambles and the purchasing power of Confederate currency was already
approaching its war’s end low of 1.6¢ on the dollar. The fact that these near-worthless notes
were accepted in Southern commerce until the very last may be regarded as an act of
Most of the notes in this issue
were printed by Keating & Ball at Columbia, South Carolina. All but the $500 note had a blue engraved
denomination on the back, giving rise to the term "bluebacks,” as a play on the
nickname of "greenbacks” then used for the Federal issued currency of the time.
The engravings were likely done
by Edward Keatinge, who had worked for the American Bank Note Company in New
York City. Recruited by the Confederacy
for its treasury department when the war broke out, Keatinge teamed with
Virginian Thomas A. Ball to form Keatinge & Ball in Richmond. Soon the firm
removed to a more secure location in Columbia, South Carolina. Once there, they
produced Confederate currency using equipment and supplies brought in through
the Federal blockade. General Sherman destroyed these facilities in February
$5.00 Note - An example of this $5.00
Confederate note was found in Abraham Lincoln’s wallet after his
assassination. The central vignette is
the Confederate States capitol building in Richmond. A bust view of C. G. Memminger who was a
member of the Confederate cabinet is at lower right. The serial number, in this case 14665, is hand
accomplished and appears at upper right.
Ink on the note is pink and black; the reverse is printed with an ornate
web design in blue ink, the denomination in text.
$10.00 Note - Of all Confederate currency, this
note is the most common today. The
central vignette is purportedly a depiction of Braxton Bragg’s field artillery
at the Battle of Buena Vista in 1847 during America’s war with Mexico. At lower right is a bust of R. M. T. Hunter,
a member of the Confederate cabinet.
Serial #32216 appears in two locations.
The back is a blue web design with denomination. This note’s uneven borders are clear evidence
of the process of hand cutting the printed plates into individual notes.
$20.00 Note - Only two architectural structures
appear on notes in the seventh issue of Confederate Currency; the capital
building in Richmond on the $5.00 and ironically on this note, the capital
building in Nashville, Tennessee. On February 25,
1862 the panicked city of Nashville had surrendered to Union General Don Carlos
Buell and from that time the city had been under Federal control. For more than two years, Confederate currency had been worthless in Nashville. Yet ironically, its capital building with genteel folk standing on the grounds graces the $20.00 note.
At right is a bust of Alexander
Stevens, Vice President of the Confederate States. Printed in pink and black
ink with hand signed serial #19823. Reverse is blue web
design with denominations.
$50.00 Note - This note is machine numbered
#50011. The sole engraving is a central
bust view of Jefferson Davis, President of the Confederate States. Printed in black and pink ink with the reverse
in blue ink showing denomination.
$100.00 Note - The central portrait of this
sought-after issue features Lucy Holcombe Pickens, who won the admiration of
the Russian royal family while living in Russia as the wife of the U.S.
ambassador and eventual governor of South Carolina. Soldiers are depicted on the left side of the
note, and to the right is a portrait of George Wythe Randolph – Thomas
Jefferson’s grandson. Randolph served as a Confederate general and briefly as
Secretary of War for the Confederacy.
The serial number is machine
accomplished, #42404. Ink is black and
pink with denomination on reverse in blue text.
$500.00 Note - This note bears the bust
engraving of General Stonewall Jackson at lower right with the Confederate flag
and seal atop a panoply of arms at left. Pink and black ink on the note's face, along with the occasionally seen red
stamped control mark, a shield bearing a palmetto tree which is partially
visible at the upper right corner, and will bring a premium in value. The stamp
was used to control theft of paper stock and to combat counterfeiting. Serial
#18988. The $500 note is the sole
example in the series with a blank back.