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Beyond Face Value: Depictions of Slavery in Confederate Currency

Beyond Face Value:
Depictions of Slavery in Confederate Currency

A project of the United States Civil War Center


Many Southern notes did not feature images of slavery; this exhibit focuses on the ones that did. This collection features notes issued and circulated in the South during the Antebellum, Civil War, and Reconstruction Eras. Notes were issued by various entities, including the Confederate government, state governments,merchants, and railroad companies.

Updated October 2011

Overview of the Civil War

by Leah Jewett

As perhaps the most complex period in American history, the Civil War’s major causes, events, and outcomes cannot be adequately summarized in a few paragraphs. This overview is therefore intended merely to place the exhibit Beyond Face Value: Depictions of Slavery in Confederate Currency into a historical context (For more information on all aspects of the Civil War era, including how the war affected soldiers, civilians, and slaves, visit the USCWC Index).


With the colonization of America in the 17th century, immigrants as well as slaves from various national and ethnic backgrounds settled the landscape of what would become a new nation: the United States of America. The new inhabitants applied and modified familiar modes of production and agriculture on American soil. Geography, economics, and technology influenced the ways in which individuals made their livings.


By the 1850s, a pronounced sectionalism had developed between the industrial North and agricultural South. The two sections disagreed about economics, statehood, and slavery- issues that, in the minds of politically active Southerners, comprised one main issue: states’ rights.


Northern states had outlawed the “peculiar institution” of slavery by the early 19th century. Subsequent federal legislation regarding tariffs, territory, statehood, and changes in Congressional representation held negative consequences for the South, whose economy still depended upon slave labor. Southern politicians and property owners interpreted these laws as interference from the federal government, jeopardizing the sovereignty of the states and the integrity of the Constitution. In the South, slaves were considered “chattel,” or property, and they were bought and sold like livestock. The type and degree of physical labor, access to education, and subjection to violence slaves experienced varied throughout the South, as did the size of plantations and the number of slave holders. Though some scholars speculate that the South would have abandoned the institution of slavery eventually and without war, slavery’s demise came about only after the sacrifice of thousands of Americans, both Union and Confederate.

Secession and War

The late 1850s saw an outbreak of violence in America as sectional tensions increased. Abraham Lincoln’s 1860 election to the presidency was unacceptable for Southern Democrats, who believed his stand against the expansion of slavery would ruin the South.

Considering its actions legal, South Carolina seceded from the Union in 1860. Mississippi, Florida, Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, and Texas soon followed, and they joined together to form the Confederate States of America. Delegates of the Confederate Congress elected Jefferson Davis president. A Mississippi planter and Mexican War veteran who had served as both a U.S. Senator and Secretary of War, Davis took the oath of office in Montgomery, Alabama, shortly before Lincoln’s inauguration in Washington, D.C.

Citizens in the new Confederacy began to seize U.S. property, and both the North and the South raised armies. In April 1861, soldiers led by Confederate General P. G. T. Beauregard fired artillery shells into federally occupied Fort Sumter off the coast of Charleston, South Carolina, after President Lincoln refused to turn back federal supply ships on their way to the fort. After Fort Sumter fell to the Confederacy, Virginia, Arkansas, North Carolina, and Tennessee seceded. The slave-holding states of Missouri, Kentucky, Maryland and Delaware were known as border states because their citizenry was divided in its allegiance.

Although Confederate politicians claimed the seceding states simply wanted to be “left alone,” recent scholarship concludes otherwise by showing how Confederate military strategy was reflected in its desire to acquire new territory. Some Northerners argued to allow secession, but Lincoln believed firmly that the fate of democracy, the “experiment” begun by the founding fathers, was at stake. Ironically, both sides of the conflict asserted that they were fighting to preserve the spirit of the Constitution as it was originally intended. Some Confederate supporters even referred to the war as the Second American Revolution.

In the hopes of receiving international aid, the Confederacy strove to gain official recognition as a sovereign nation from France and Great Britain. Encouraged by such abolitionists as Frederick Douglass , Lincoln gradually came to the decision that the abolition of slavery would be an effective war measure, but he waited to announce it until the North won a decisive victory. Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation in September 1862 (though it would not go into effect until January 1863) soon after the Battle of Antietam (called “Sharpsburg” by the Confederates), knowing that this new focus would extinguish any possibility that European powers might acknowledge the Confederacy’s independence. Britain and France had outlawed slavery many years earlier, and Britain actively sought to suppress the international slave trade.

Newly freed slaves and property-holding African Americans provided an important source of manpower for the army. Though some saw action, most members of the United States Colored Troops were relegated to manual labor.

Another effect of emancipation was to undermine the Confederacy by drastically reducing the labor supply crucial to the maintenance of its agricultural resources and by aiding in the destruction of the slave labor system. After two more years of war, and facing superior Union numbers in men and supplies, the Confederacy surrendered in April 1865.


Federal troops continued to occupy the South after the war, and in many states this period known as Reconstruction did not end until 1877. The federal government banned loyal Confederates from public office, and Black Republicans held a variety of political positions. Social unrest marked the era. As federal troops moved out of the Southern states, “home rule” was re-established, and white Southerners reclaimed political offices. With Reconstructions end, African Americans eventually became the subjects of disfranchisement and violence for almost a hundred years.

Word List



      Battle of Antietam


      Bleeding Kansas




      John Brown


      Compromise of 1850




      Stephen Douglas


      Dred Scott Decision


      15th Amendment


      Fort Sumter


      Kansas-Nebraska Act


      Abraham Lincoln


      Mason-Dixon Line


      Missouri Compromise




      States’ rights


      13th Amendment





Economic Environment

by Henry McCarl

From 1830 to 1860, the Northern states prospered with the growth of diversified manufacturing as part of the worldwide Industrial Revolution. Immigrants and employment boosted the North’s population and economic prosperity, while the South became the principal provider of raw materials. Southern farms shipped agricultural products, such as cotton, to Northern mills, which sent finished goods back to the South. Railroads displaced canals as a reliable method of shipping not only because of speed of transport, but also because they did not depend on natural water sources.

Southern prosperity, based on cotton production, relied on slave labor. Slaves were considered capital resources, used in the production of raw materials; this became a source of significant friction between the North, which paid its workers wages (normally as little as possible, given an abundant supply of labor) and the South, which “owned” its workers.

Growing concerns among groups in the North regarding the immorality of slavery led to political moves to outlaw slavery. Slaveholding Southerners felt threatened by what they perceived as the destruction of their (human) capital resources. In an attempt to end slavery peacefully, Congressmen drafted many compromises that proposed compensating slave owners for their “property,” but they encountered consistent opposition by abolitionists.

By 1832 most of Europe and Mexico had abolished slavery. There was great international pressure for the United States to follow suit, but the South held fast to states’ rights, a principle that was grounded in the maintenance of their enslaved agricultural workforce. Because they relied on their slaves for their livelihoods, planters supported Congressional representatives who would support the right of self-determination for each state and oppose the annexation of anti-slavery territories. The political complexity of the issue of slavery can be illustrated with the example of Texas statehood.

When Texas asserted its independence from Mexico in 1836, one of the unresolved issues was the practical matter of maintaining slaves on the new cotton plantations in that territory. The national political debate over whether the new territory would be “slave” or “free” delayed Texas’ admission to the United States until 1845. Most Texans did not own slaves; fearing that Texas might vote to abolish slavery, Southern politicians supported admission of Texas as a slave state before anti-slavery forces there could organize a referendum.

Because Antebellum industrial development was concentrated solely in the North, white Southerners maintained their political and economic control in a primarily agricultural South, unaffected by the problems of wage labor. The unwillingness of these opposing sections to reach a compromise ultimately led to the Civil War. The same inflexibility and sectional distrust delayed post-war economic progress in the South and prolonged its economic stagnation and bitterness resulting from Reconstruction.

Banking and Currency

In 1832 President Andrew Jackson, who distrusted centralized monetary control, abolished the original Bank of the United States. As a result, the “Free Banking Era” began, and it was characterized by economic instability that did not end until the 1913 establishment of the Federal Reserve System. State-charted banks proliferated, operating without regulation by federal authorities, laws, or uniform policies.

Each bank issued its own currency. Some financial institutions were relatively safe, depending on how much of their deposits were held as reserves, and their bank notes exchanged at face value. Many were less stable, and their notes exchanged at various discounts to face value, depending on the public’s perception of their reputation.

As with modern currency, numbers were not the only images on paper money. Vignettes, or illustrated scenes, on bank notes depicted mythical gods and goddesses, regional industrial and agricultural scenes, and symbols of capital and economic strength. Just as railroad locomotives and factories provided the themes for many illustrations on Northern bank notes, slaves often provided inspiration for those in the South. Artists depicted slaves as happy, healthy workers, and portrayed overseers and owners as benevolent. Cotton, the commodity with which the South backed its money, also adorned the face of paper money.

Among other societal changes, the 1861 outset of hostilities led to the necessity to change the monetary system. The federal government authorized Federal Demand Notes–the first issue of paper money by the United States since the “Continentals” of the Revolutionary War period. Federal Demand Notes can still be redeemed as currency, although many hold more value as collectibles. The Confederacy issued notes to be “redeemed after a treaty of peace was signed between the CSA and USA.” Confederate notes were, in effect, small denomination loans that paid interest, usually at a yearly rate of six percent, and they were issued on the gamble that the South would prevail.

States often issued notes on the same basis as their respective governments, and local banks continued to issue their own notes, as did a variety of merchants. Working with a limited supply of paper (due to the blockade) and skilled engravers, issuers of paper money in the Confederacy chose vignettes already in the printer’s stock. Lithographs of older engravings were often produced to combat the cost of reproducing the master images. Counterfeit C.S.A., state, and local Southern bank notes circulated during the war. Many were printed in the North, and with the encouragement of the United States, to undermine the value and credibility of Southern currency. Northern counterfeits of Confederate money were superior in quality due to access to printers and appropriate facilities.

The 1863 National Banking Act initiated a significant change in U.S. banking laws, establishing a uniform currency to be issued by nationally chartered banks. Banks were required to purchase U.S. government bonds as backing for National Bank Notes, a clever method to finance the war without raising taxes (This system continues today with some flexibility on whether the bank reserves are held as bonds, currency, or other financial instruments). Although many local banks still issued their own currency, the National Bank Notes were the standard of value from 1863 to 1932.

The financial obligations of the Confederate government died with it. After the war Confederate notes and bonds were worthless as currency and were sometimes even used in homes as wall insulation. Only later would the notes become valuable to collectors.

The Collection


“From the 1780s to the late 1860s the paper money in circulation was truly diverse. Over 1,600 different banks issued more than 30,000 varieties of notes. Thousands more were issued by states, cities, counties, companies and individual merchants.”[popup url=”″] (Read more…)[/popup]


[ngg_images tag_ids=”alabama” display_type=”photocrati-nextgen_basic_thumbnails”]


[ngg_images tag_ids=”arkansas” display_type=”photocrati-nextgen_basic_thumbnails”]


[ngg_images tag_ids=”florida” display_type=”photocrati-nextgen_basic_thumbnails”]


[ngg_images tag_ids=”georgia” display_type=”photocrati-nextgen_basic_thumbnails”]


[ngg_images tag_ids=”kentucky” display_type=”photocrati-nextgen_basic_thumbnails”]


[ngg_images tag_ids=”louisiana” display_type=”photocrati-nextgen_basic_thumbnails”]


[ngg_images tag_ids=”mississippi” display_type=”photocrati-nextgen_basic_thumbnails”]


[ngg_images tag_ids=”missouri” display_type=”photocrati-nextgen_basic_thumbnails”]

North Carolina

[ngg_images tag_ids=”north carolina” display_type=”photocrati-nextgen_basic_thumbnails”]

South Carolina

[ngg_images tag_ids=”south carolina” display_type=”photocrati-nextgen_basic_thumbnails”]


[ngg_images tag_ids=”tennessee” display_type=”photocrati-nextgen_basic_thumbnails”]


[ngg_images tag_ids=”texas” display_type=”photocrati-nextgen_basic_thumbnails”]


[ngg_images tag_ids=”virginia” display_type=”photocrati-nextgen_basic_thumbnails”]


[ngg_images tag_ids=”miscellaneous” display_type=”photocrati-nextgen_basic_thumbnails”]

The Images


In the midst of the American Civil War, and in defiance of the Union blockade choking off its port cities, the Confederate War Department boldly ordered Navy Captain John Wilkinson to England, where he was to purchase a blockade runner, “load her with arms, munitions of war, and other supplies” and “bring her into a Confederate port with all dispatch.”[popup url=”″] (Read more…)[/popup]

The images are grouped according to activities associated with slave labor. All were featured on notes issued in seceded states and most border states. Where images have not been previously named by experts, the standard technique of referencing visual detail will be used to distinguish one image from another. Categories are as follow: Individuals with Cotton, Individuals with Assorted Tasks, Field Scenes, Stylistic Scenes, Post Civil War Scenes, Sugar Plantations, Transportation. Click on the side bar to the left side to access each category.

The Images: Individuals with Cotton

[singlepic id=188  h=150 float=left]

Always on the left of the note, this appears on the Texas, Washington County, $3 (no date) [singlepic id=332 w=auto h=16 float=inline] , the Southern Railroad Company, $5 (1862) [singlepic id=305 w=auto h=16 float=inline] from Vicksburg, Mississippi, notes issued by Louisiana merchant John Bishop (1860s) [singlepic id=282 w=auto h=16 float=inline] and Josiah Morris Banker (1862) [singlepic id=348 w=auto h=16 float=inline] of Montgomery, Alabama.

[singlepic id=186 h=150 float=left]

This image can be found on the Arkansas Treasury Warrant, $10 (1862) [singlepic id=252 w=auto h=16 float=inline]. It appears with a red “V” overprint on the Louisiana, St. John the Baptist Parish, $5 (1862) [singlepic id=289 w=auto h=16 float=inline].

[singlepic id=193 h=110 float=left]

This image appears only on the denominations of the
Louisiana, Red River Packet Company, $2 (1861) [singlepic id=288 w=auto h=16 float=inline].

[singlepic id=192 h=150 float=left]

This unique vignette is featured only on the New Orleans Bank of Improvement, $50 (1840) [singlepic id=287 w=auto h=16 float=inline].

Note the seed coming from the slave’s hand. It is unknown whether he is sowing for a plantation owner or himself using seeds brought over from Africa. New Orleans was the leading slave importing port in America and many seeds were introduced from salves’ native lands.

[singlepic id=190 h=175 float=left]

Virginia, Traders Bank of Richmond, $20 (UNC) [singlepic id=334 w=auto h=16 float=inline]

[singlepic id=191 h=150 float=left]

A realistic variation of this stylized image found on the T-29 [singlepic id=340 w=auto h=16 float=inline] note illustrates the following notes:

Alabama, Eastern Bank $10 [singlepic id=245 w=auto h=16 float=inline]

Bank of South Carolina, $20 (1857) [singlepic id=318 w=auto h=16 float=inline]

North Carolina, Bank of Lexington, $5 (1861) [singlepic id=310 w=auto h=16 float=inline]

[singlepic id=187 h=175 float=left]

Georgia, Bank of Greensborough, $2 (1858)

Georgia, Bank of Commerce, $1 (1861) [singlepic id=272 w=auto h=16 float=inline]

[singlepic id=189 h=175 float=left]

State of Mississippi, 50 cents (1864) [singlepic id=303 w=auto h=16 float=inline]

The Images: Individuals with Assorted Tasks

[singlepic id=204 h=200 float=left]

T-30 Confederate States of America, $10 (1861)

State of South Carolina, Revenue Bond Script, $5 (1872) [singlepic id=314 w=auto h=16 float=inline]

[singlepic id=203  h=160 float=left]

North Carolina, Bank of Wadesborough, $4 (1860)[singlepic id=311 w=auto h=16 float=inline]

The Peoples Bank of Kentucky, $50 (not pictured)

Missouri, Farmers Bank, $10, proof (not pictured)

[singlepic id=206 h=160 float=left]

Roger Durand reports this title was assigned by the American Bank Note Company when it produced its Archive Series of proof vignettes. It can be found on the following notes:

Central Bank of Tennessee, $10 (1855) [singlepic id=327 w=auto h=16 float=inline]

State of Mississippi, Treasury Note, $10 (1861) (not pictured)

Georgia, Augusta Insurance and Banking Co., $10 (not pictured)

[singlepic id=208 w=320 h=240 float=left]Since this image appears before and after emancipation, it is referred to by experts as “slave” when featured on a note in 1861 and “free negro” when illustrating currency in 1872.


About to Milk the Cow

This image was derived from the painting “All Talk and No Work” by Francis W. Edmonds (c. 1856). See Francis W. Edmonds, American Master in the Dutch Tradition by H. Nichols B. Clark and Facing History: The Black Image in American Art by Guy C. McElroy. The original painting is in the collection of the Brooklyn Museum.

The image appears on the following notes:

  • Alabama, Deposit Savings Association of Mobile, $2(1872)[singlepic id=240 w=auto h=16 float=inline]
  • Virginia, Bank of the City of Petersburg, $5 (1861) (not pictured)

[singlepic id=205 w=320 h=240 float=left]

The Scythe Grinder

This image was derived from the painting “The Scythe Grinder” by Francis W. Edmonds (c. 1856). See Francis W. Edmonds, American Master in the Dutch Tradition by H. Nichols B. Clark. The original painting is in the collection of the New-York Historical Society.

South Carolina, Bank of Hamburg, $5 (1872)[singlepic id=326 w=auto h=16 float=inline]

[singlepic id=207 h=145 float=left]

According to Roger Durand, this name was assigned to the image by the American Bank Note Company. It can be found on these notes:

Virginia, Corporation of Winchester, $5 (1862)[singlepic id=345 w=auto h=16 float=inline]

Georgia, Bank of Commerce, $50 (1856)[singlepic id=270 w=auto h=16 float=inline], with Northern redemption on reverse[singlepic id=271 w=auto h=16 float=inline]

Tennessee, The Exchange Bank of Tennessee, $10 (not pictured)

[singlepic id=202 h=200 float=left]

State of North Carolina, 10 cents(1862)

The Images: Field Scenes

[singlepic id=200 h=190 float=left]

T-41 Confederate States of America, $100 (1862)[singlepic id=344 w=auto h=16 float=inline]

State of Alabama, $5 (1864)[singlepic id=243 w=auto h=16 float=inline]

Southern Bank of Kentucky, $5 (1853)[singlepic id=278 w=auto h=16 float=inline]

Michigan, Adrian Insurance Company, $1 (1853) (full note not pictured)

[singlepic id=201 w=320 h=240 float=left]

It is unusual to find a plantation related vignette on a Northern note. The Planters Bank of New York has one, for example. The Michigan vignette is significant in that the image is extended a full inch to the right making up one seventh of a seven inch wide note. It also has greater clarity of engraving than either the State of Alabama or the Southern Bank of Kentucky.

[singlepic id=199 h=200 float=left]

State of South Carolina, $50 (1857)[singlepic id=316 w=auto h=16 float=inline]

Tennessee, Bank of Chattanooga, $3 (1863)[singlepic id=329 w=auto h=16 float=inline]

State of Missouri, $50 Defense Bond (no date)[singlepic id=306 w=auto h=16 float=inline]

State of Mississippi, $100 Treasury Note[singlepic id=304 w=auto h=16 float=inline]

State of Florida, $1 (1864)[singlepic id=254 w=auto h=16 float=inline]

Georgia Savings Bank, $20 (1867)[singlepic id=274 w=auto h=16 float=inline]

Georgia, Farmers & Mechanics Bank, $2 (not pictured)

[singlepic id=196  h=100 float=left] The “mother” of several notes is the Central Bank of Alabama, $10 (1857)[singlepic id=246 w=auto h=16 float=inline]. This vignette covers eighty percent of left and top of the note.

[singlepic id=198 h=150 float=left-clear]

Two “sub-vignettes” are seen in several other states:

Alabama, Selma, Marion & Memphis RR Co., $2 (1871)[singlepic id=250 w=auto h=16 float=inline]
Virginia, Traders Bank of Richmond, $50 (UNC)[singlepic id=335 w=auto h=16 float=inline]
Virginia, Town of Staunton, 25 cents (no date)[singlepic id=337 w=auto h=16 float=inline]
South Carolina, Corporation of Columbia, 5 cents (1861)[singlepic id=320 w=auto h=16 float=inline]
Louisiana, Geo. W. Gregor & Co., 100 cents (1860s)[singlepic id=284 w=auto h=16 float=inline]
State of Florida, $10 (1862) (not pictured)

[singlepic id=194  w=225 float=left-clear]

A variation of the image, in which the woman’s face has been altered, can be found on a sight draft from 1877[singlepic id=194 w=auto h=16 float=inline].

[singlepic id=197  h=160 float=left]

North Carolina, Miners & Planters Bank, $10 (1860)[singlepic id=309 w=auto h=16 float=inline]

Georgia, Bank of Columbus, $20 (1856)[singlepic id=262 w=auto h=16 float=inline]

The Images: Stylistic Scenes

[singlepic id=220 h=120 float=left]

South Carolina, Farmers & Exchange Bank of Charleston, $10 (1863)[singlepic id=322 h=16 float=inline]

[singlepic id=219 h=150 float=left]

State of Mississippi, $50 (1862)[singlepic id=300 h=16 float=inline]

[singlepic id=218 w=320 h=240 float=left]

Louisiana, D.J. Hockersmith & Co., 50 cents, (1860s) [singlepic id=283 h=16 float=inline]

The Images: Post Civil War Scenes

[singlepic id=215  h=200 float=left]

Alabama, Great Southern Life Insurance Co. (no date)[singlepic id=295 w=auto h=16 float=inline]

Notice the exaggerated smiles on the faces of the slaves depicted here.

[singlepic id=216 h=100 float=left]

Delaware, San Francisco Textile Mills Inc. stock certificate (1925)[singlepic id=294 w=auto h=16 float=inline]

Note the presence of white workers in the field scenes to the left and right of main vignette.

[singlepic id=217 h=200 float=left]

Note the grotesque facial characteristics of the individual,
in great contrast to pre-Civil War depictions.

State of Louisiana, Shreveport and Houston Railway Company, $1000 gold bond, 1884 proof

The Images: Sugar Plantations

[singlepic id=221h=200 float=left]

Central Bank of Alabama, $2 (1861)[singlepic id=247 w=auto h=16 float=inline]

[singlepic id=222 h=175 float=left]

Alabama, Bell & McMahon, 50 cents (1865)[singlepic id=251 w=auto h=16 float=inline]

Alabama, Deposit Savings Association of Mobile, $1 (not pictured)

Alabama, City of Mobile, $3 (not pictured)

[singlepic id=223 h=200 float=left]

Louisiana, City of New Orleans, $1,000 consolidated bond[singlepic id=347 w=auto h=16 float=inline].

The Images: Transportation

[singlepic id=231 h=200 float=left]

This image represents the process of moving the cotton from the plantation to market and ultimately to the broker. It appears on: North Carolina, Bank of Lexington, $5 (1861)[singlepic id=310 w=auto h=16 float=inline]

Note the “Cotton Broker” legend is omitted on the following: Eastern Bank of Alabama, $5 (UNC)[singlepic id=244 w=auto h=16 float=inline]

[singlepic id=237 h=170 float=left]

T-13 Confederate States of America, $100 (1861)[singlepic id=338 w=auto h=16 float=inline]

T-23 Confederate States of America, $10 (1861) (not pictured)

[singlepic id=230 h=170 float=left]

State of Mississippi, $2 (1870)[singlepic id=301 w=auto h=16 float=inline]

Georgia, Macon & Brunswick RR Co., $1 (1867)[singlepic id=275 w=auto h=16 float=inline]

Alabama, Selma, Marion & Memphis RR Co., $2 (1871)[singlepic id=250 w=auto h=16 float=inline]

[singlepic id=233 h=180 float=left]

State of South Carolina, $50 Revenue Bond Script (1872)[singlepic id=316 w=auto h=16 float=inline]

Alabama, County of Montgomery, $5 (1861) (not pictured)

South Carolina RR Co., $20 (1873) (Only 200 printed) (not pictured)

Georgia, Manufacturers Bank, $20 (1862) (not pictured)

[singlepic id=232 h=170 float=left]

State of South Carolina, $1 (1872)[singlepic id=312 w=auto h=16 float=inline]

[singlepic id=229 h=170 float=left]

Louisiana, City of Baton Rouge, $1 (1862)[singlepic id=280 w=auto h=16 float=inline]

Texas, Austin County, $2 (1862)[singlepic id=330 w=auto h=16 float=inline]

North Carolina, Farmers Bank, $4 (not pictured)

[singlepic id=225 h=110 float=left]

Eastern Bank of Alabama, $5 (UNC)[singlepic id=244 w=auto h=16 float=inline]

[singlepic id=227 h=120 float=left]

Georgia, Bank of Columbus, $1 (1856)[singlepic id=260 w=auto h=16 float=inline]

[singlepic id=235 h=120 float=left]

South Carolina, Farmers & Exchange Bank of Charleston, $5 (1861)[singlepic id=324 w=auto h=16 float=inline]

[singlepic id=228 h=120 float=left]

Georgia, Merchants & Planters Bank, $1 (1857)[singlepic id=264 w=auto h=16 float=inline]

[singlepic id=224 h=170 float=left]

State of Alabama, 25 cents (1863)[singlepic id=242 w=auto h=16 float=inline]

[singlepic id=238 h=170 float=left]

Louisiana, Baton Rouge Yarn Company stock certificate (1880s)[singlepic id=297 w=auto h=16 float=inline]

[singlepic id=239 h=120 float=left]

Missouri, Merchants Bank of St. Louis, $10 (not pictured)

Arkansas, County of Phillips, $1 (not pictured)

This vignette is one of several different “dockside” images used in Confederate currency.

[singlepic id=234 w=210 float=left]

Louisiana, City of New Orleans, $1 (1862)[singlepic id=279 w=auto h=16 float=inline]

Bank of the State of South Carolina, $1 (no date)[singlepic id=312 w=auto h=16 float=inline]

Louisiana, City of New Orleans, $1,000 consolidated bond (1880)[singlepic id=286 w=auto h=16 float=inline]

T-35 Confederate States of America, $5 (1861)[singlepic id=349 w=auto h=16 float=inline]

Louisiana, Bossier Levee District, $1,000 bond (not pictured)

State of Arkansas, $10 (not pictured)

[singlepic id=236 h=130 float=left]

Louisiana, Canal Bank, $100 (UNC)[singlepic id=290 w=auto h=16 float=inline]

Virginia, Exchange Bank, $1 (1863)[singlepic id=336 w=auto h=16 float=inline]

South Carolina, Farmers & Exchange Bank, $50 (1861)[singlepic id=241 w=auto h=16 float=inline]

[singlepic id=226 h=170]

Alabama, Bank of Selma, $10 (Alabama) (1862)[singlepic id=249 w=auto h=16 float=inline]

Alabama, Eastern Bank of Alabama, $10 (Eufaula) (UNC)[singlepic id=245 w=auto h=16 float=inline]

Arkansas, Exchange Bank, $10 (Arkansas)[singlepic id=253 w=auto h=16 float=inline]

Bibliography and Web Resources

The following list of sources on historic currency and related topics is intended only as a guide for further research.


  • Bieciuk, Hank and H. G. “Bill” Corbin. Texas Confederate County Notes and Private Scrip. N.p., 1961.
  • Bradbeer, William West. Confederate and Southern State Currency. Mt. Vernon, NY, 1915.
  • Chase, Phillip H. Confederate Treasury Notes: The Paper Money of the Confederate States of America, 1861–1865. N.p., 1947.
  • Clark, H. Nichols B. Francis W. Edmonds, American Master in the Dutch Tradition. Washington, DC: Smithsonian Institution Press, 1988.
  • Criswell, Grover, D. B. Ball, and H. Shull. Comprehensive Catalog of Confederate Paper Money. Port Clinton, OH: BNR Press, 1996.
  • Criswell, Grover C. Confederate and Southern States Currency. Citra, FL: Criswell’s Publications, 1992.
  • Davies, Glyn. History of Money from Ancient Times to the Present Day. Cardiff: University of Wales Press, 1996.
  • Durand, Roger H. Interesting Notes About Allegorical Representations. Rehobath, MA: R. H. Durand & Co., Ltd., 1994.
  • Durand, Roger H. Interesting Notes About Denominations. Rehobath, MA: R. H. Durand & Co., Ltd., 1988.
  • Durand, Roger H. Interesting Notes About History. Rehobath, MA: R. H. Durand & Co., Ltd., 1990.
  • Durand, Roger H. Interesting Notes About Indians. Rehobath, MA: R. H. Durand & Co., Ltd., 1991.
  • Durand, Roger H. Interesting Notes About Portraits. Rehobath, MA: R.H. Durand & Co., Ltd., 1996.
  • Durand, Roger H. Interesting Notes About Portraits II. Rehobath, MA: R. H. Durand & Co., Ltd., 1997.
  • Durand, Roger H. Interesting Notes About Territories. Rehobath, MA: R. H. Durand & Co., Ltd., 1992.
  • Durand, Roger H. Interesting Notes About Vignettes. Rehobath, MA: R. H. Durand & Co., Ltd., 1995.
  • Durand, Roger H. Interesting Notes About Vignettes II. Rehobath, MA: R. H. Durand & Co., Ltd., 1996.
  • Fuller, Claud E. Confederate Currency and Stamps, 1861–1865. N.p., 1949.
  • Galbraith, John Kenneth. Money: Whence It Came, Where It Went. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1995.
  • Hall, James. Dictionary of Subjects and Symbols in Art. London: John Murray Ltd., 1984.
  • Hummell, Jeffry Rogers. Emancipating Slaves, Enslaving Free Men. Chicago: Open Court, 1996.
  • Johnson, E. A. J. and Herman E. Kroos. The Origins and Development of the American Economy: An Introduction to Economics. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, 1953.
  • Kelly, Don C. National Bank Notes: A Guide with Prices. Oxford, OH: The Paper Money Institute, Inc., 1985.
  • Krooss, Herman Edward. American Economic Development: The Progress of a Business Civilization. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, 1974.
  • Krooss, Herman Edward. Documentary History of Banking and Currency in the United States. New York: Chelsea House Publications, 1969.
  • McElroy, Guy C.Facing History: The Black Image in American Art. Washington, DC: Corcoran Gallery of Art, 1990.
  • Monestier, Martin. The Art of Paper Currency. New York: Quartet Books, 1983.
  • Morison, Samuel Eliot. The Oxford History of the American People. New York: Oxford University Press, 1965.
  • Muscalus, John Anthony. An Index of State Bank Notes that Illustrate Characters and Events. Bridgeport, PA, 1938.
  • Neely, Mark E, Mark E., Harold Holzer, and Gabor S. Boritt. The Confederate Image: Prints of the Lost Cause. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1987.
  • Parrish, T. Michael and Robert M. Willingham, Jr. Confederate Imprints: A Bibliography of Southern Publications from Secession to Surrender. Austin, TX: Jenkins Publishing Co., 1987.
  • Professional Currency Dealers Association Committee on Education and Gene Hessler. Collecting U.S. Obsolete Currency. Milwaukee: Professional Currency Dealers Association, 1991.
  • Shade, William G. Banks or No Banks: The Money Issue in Western Politics, 1832–1865. Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 1972.
  • Shafer, Neil. Let’s Collect Paper Money! An Introduction to the Exciting Hobby of Collecting Paper Money in the World. Racine, WI: Western Publishing Company, Inc., 1976.
  • Slabaugh, Arlie R. Confederate States Paper Money. Iola, WI: Krause Publications, 1961, 3rd ed.
  • Studenski, Paul. Financial History of the United States: Fiscal, Monetary, Banking, and Tariff, Including Financial Administration and State and Local Finance. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1963.
  • Symons, Edward L., Jr., and James J. White. Banking Law. N.p., 1984.
  • Werlich, Robert. Fully Illustrated Catalogue of United States, Canadian, and Confederate Currency. N.p., 1976.
  • Wilkinson, John. The Narrative of a Blockade Runner. New York: Sheldon & Co., 1877.
  • Wilson, Charles R., and W. Ferris, eds. Encyclopedia of Southern Culture. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1989.
  • Wishnietsky, Benjamin. Confederate Patriotic Covers and Their Uses. North Miami, FL: David G. Phillips Publishing Co., Inc., 1991.


  • “Notices of Other Recent Publications.” American Historical Review 45 (1940): 440–95.
  • Anderson, George L. “The South and Problems of Post–Civil War Finance.” Journal of Southern History 9 (1943): 181–95.
  • Chandler, Aldred D., Jr. “Dupont, Dahlgren, and the Civil War Nitre Shortage.” Military Affairs 13 (1949): 142–9.
  • Colbourn, H. Trevor. “Madison Eulogized.” William and Mary Quarterly 8 (1951): 108–19.
  • Dale, Edward Everett. “The Cherokees in the Confederacy.” Journal of Southern History 9 (1943): 159–85.
  • Dodge, David. “Domestic Economy in the Confederacy.” Atlantic Monthly 58 (August 1886): 229–42.
  • Dorris, J. T. “Pardon Seekers and Brokers: A Sequel of Appomattox.” Journal of Southern History 1 (1935): 276–92.
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Web Sites

American Monetary Institute

American Numismatic Association (Coins and Paper Money Collectors)

A Brief History of Central Banking in the United States

Brief History of Our Nation’s Paper Money

Bureau of Engraving and Printing

Economic History Web Sites

Leslie Brock Center for the Study of Colonial Currency

Money: U.S. History of Money and Banking

Museum of American Financial History

Society of Paper Money Collectors, Inc.

U.S. Mint

About the Scholars and Contributors


John M. Coski, Evaluator, is historian and library director at The Museum of the Confederacy in Richmond, Virginia, where he has worked since 1988. He earned a Ph.D. in American History from the College of William and Mary and is the author of Capital Navy: The Men, Ships, and Operations of the James River Squadron and The Army of the Potomac at Berkeley Plantation: The Harrison’s Landing Occupation of 1862; co-author of White House of the Confederacy: An Illustrated History; and editor of several books and articles on the collections of The Museum of the Confederacy.

Jules d’Hemecourt, Principal Scholar, moved from the practice of law and broadcast journalism to university teaching at Louisiana State University in the Manship School of Mass Communication and has been named Most Outstanding Professor in the College of Arts & Sciences. His diverse curiosities and areas of expertise lead him to this contribution in the area of paper money. He is an Associate member of the United States Civil War Center.


































Harold Holzer, Guest Scholar, is Vice President for Communications at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, and author, co-author, or editor of eighteen books on Abraham Lincoln and the political culture of the Civil War, including The Confederate Image (1987). He also co-authored the chapter, “Victims, Stoics, and Refugees: Women in Lost Cause Prints,” in the book Graphic Arts and the South (1993) and co-curated the travelling exhibition, The Confederate Image, in 1997-1998.

Henry N. McCarl, Guest Scholar, is a Professor of Economics in the School of Business at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. He is a well known collector of obsolete bank notes and counterfeit Confederate and Southern state notes and bonds. Dr. McCarl is a life member of both the American Numismatic Society and the Society of Paper Money Collectors.


Vic Erwin, Web Designer, has been a full time web developer for more than four years, serving for two and a half years as Louisiana State University’s first web master. He is the Online Producer of the web project Law Enforcement Online.

Sylvia Frank, Exhibit Editor, is Acquisitions Editor at Louisiana State University Press, where she works with historians and authors on such subjects as the Civil War, World War II, U.S. South, Civil Rights Era, and American history and biography.

Leah Jewett, Project Director, is Director of the United States Civil War Center at Louisiana State University.


On behalf of the United States Civil War Center, I would like to thank Dr. Jules d’Hemecourt for graciously allowing us to use his private collection in this exhibit and for his initiation of and enthusiasm for the project; the Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities for funding the exhibit; Scott McCraw at the LEH for his guidance; all of the scholars and contributors for making the process so enjoyable; Joel Williams and Pat Vince of LSU Computing Services; Robin Jacobs, Jennifer Pickard, and Sarah Sue Goldsmith of LSU University Relations; and Ann Whitmer, Tonya Chustz, and all of the LSU staff members who helped make this virtual exhibit a reality.

-Leah Wood Jewett

About the Exhibit

Money, as an instrument of trade, represents the economic, social, and political environment in which it is produced and circulated. Currency is a document of culture, an artifact; it speaks to the identity of a people, a place, and a time. Denominations are distinguished not only by numerical symbols of perceived worth, but with imagery that conveys a message to and from the society that embraces it.

Extending to the far reaches of the political boundaries of the Confederacy, financial documents of varying origin and denomination were handled by untold thousands; their message, whether explicit (value) or implicit (images of slavery), was communicated to the masses in ways unavailable to most other documents, artifacts, or ideas of the era.

Civil War art, including the battlefield sketches of Northern journalist-artists Alfred Waud and Edwin Forbes, has long interested researchers. The Confederate Image; Mine Eyes Have Seen the Glory: The Civil War in Art; and Conrad Wise Chapman: Artist and Soldier of the Confederacy are among only the most recent books on the topic. Few writers have applied this research to the study of the iconography of documents, such as currency, that received official government sanction.

This electronic exhibit focuses on the depictions of slaves in Confederate currency. It is important to remember that these images were created by those who institutionalized and worked to preserve slavery, and they do not necessarily portray the slaves as they viewed themselves and their condition.

Images of slavery, however, were not the only illustrations on such documents: Vignettes featuring modes of transportation[singlepic id=260 w=auto h=16 float=inline], mythical characters[singlepic id=289 w=auto h=16 float=inline], historical figures of the American Revolution[singlepic id=244 w=auto h=16 float=inline], and romantic portrayals of white women and children[singlepic id=245 w=auto h=16 float=inline] also decorated paper money issued in the Confederacy. These scenes offer a new perspective on the Civil War era South.

As you explore the virtual exhibit, consider these questions:

  • Why did paper money include illustrations of slavery?
  • What does this say about the vendors, municipalities, states, and national government that produced and distributed the bills?
  • What do you think the imagery on modern U.S. currency conveys (consider the recent Gold Dollar coin issued by the U.S. Mint featuring Sacagawea and her child?)