The Confederate States of America, in order to fund their armies and navies, sold bonds of various denominations over the course of the war.
Bonds were printed by a plethora of companies including but not limited to the American Bank Note Company, the National Bank Note Company, Archer & Daly (also known as Archer & Halpin), John Douglas, Blanton Duncan, Evans and Cogswell, George Dunn and Company, Friederich Geese, Hoyer & Ludwig and others. These firms were lithographers with talented and trained workers who designed the bonds.
The American Bank Note Company is a New Jersey firm that was founded in 1795. The company produced high quality engraving needed for stocks and bonds, stamps and paper money. With the federal government’s approval of the printing of paper money in July and August 1861, the American Bank Note Company and the National Bank Note Company received the contracts to print denominations of $5, $10, and $20 bills. They were called “greenbacks”. At the same time, both companies were also printing Confederate war bonds.
The Confederate Secretary of the Treasury was Christopher Memminger, who floated loans and created a national debt. The Confederate Congress initiated sixteen different banking acts during the war to allow for the printing of more and more bonds, of higher and higher denominations (up to and including $100,000). Several had maturity dates of ten years but the Confederate Congress could extend some of those loans up to thirty years beyond that. Others matured six months after the ratification of a peace treaty.
By the end of the war, the Confederacy was straddled with a national debt approaching $700 million and an inflation rate beyond 6000%.
In 1862, the U.S. Bureau of Printing and engraving took over the printing of paper money for the federal government. The American Bank Note Company looked to foreign lands for their lost business and printed paper money and bank notes for 115 foreign countries. American Banknote Corporation (which merged with the National Bank Note Company) is still in operation today printing such official documents as passports, driver’s licenses, birth certificates, paper currency and stamps.
Today Confederate war bonds are highly collectible. A $500 war bond in mint condition, for instance, today can sell for as high as $4000, whereas when the war ended, they were truly not worth the paper they were printed on.
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