This week I give a reprise of the very first blog I wrote for this site. Enjoy!
Forming a collection of money used during the Civil War can be an interesting pursuit. A full collection of such would include tokens, coins,
Federal coins ranging from the Indian cent to the Liberty Head double eagle. Denominations in copper and silver are easily enough obtained, plus the first nickel alloy coin, the three-cent piece of 1865. Gold coins include the $1, $2.50, $3, $5, $10, and $20, and can be a bit expensive.
Federal paper money includes Postage currency and fractional currency notes of denominations from three cents to 50 cents. One denomination of each of the two series would make a nice display.
For a type set of regular currency, perhaps a single representative note such as a Legal Tender bill of 1862 would suffice. Beyond that, there are many possibilities, some very expensive, including various interest-paying series, Gold Certificates, and National Bank notes.
Encased postage stamps were issued beginning in the summer of 1862 by over 30 merchants. These consist of a brass frame with mica front, under which a regular postage stamp of a value from one cent to 90 cents was placed. These circulated at the value of the stamp and are widely collected today. A representative inexpensive issue would fill the bill.
These are in two main classes. Civil War tokens were issued by private interests and have patriotic motifs as well as merchants’ advertisements. A set could include one example in each category. These are very inexpensive, and in grades such as Extremely Fine to lower Mint State ranges, can cost less than $100 each. A bit scarcer as a class are sutler tokens, issued by merchants who had licenses to travel with military troops and to operate stores selling clothing, games, books, and other items. These generally range into low three figures.
A set of one each of just the basic categories, excluding rarities, would certainly make a nice exhibit at a coin show. In practice, most collectors of Civil War items are specialists. Those who collect Civil War store cards issued by nearly 1,000 different merchants are not likely to collect gold coins of the Civil War, and those collecting National Bank notes are not likely to collect encased postage.
The entire field is interesting and is worth investigating. Money and history come together very nicely.