Southern States Notes

During the Civil War of 1861 to 1865, a number of constituent states of the Confederacy issued paper currency as a medium of exchange. These notes circulated alongside Confederate States currency, and are known today as “southern states currency.” The reasons for issuance of state notes were complex, and varied from state to state. These notes were sometimes backed by Confederate Treasury notes. Some were backed by land or cotton. Most were backed by nothing at all, save for faith and credit. Before War’s end, the state-issued currency had become practically worthless as a medium of exchange, like the Confederate currency that it supplemented. The Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, adopted in 1868, forbade the honoring of any debts represented by the southern notes, and many of those that weren’t destroyed were saved as war souvenirs.

 

Southern states notes remain a popular collecting field. In today’s world, they’re often treated as a subcategory of Confederate currency. The notes are relatively inexpensive relics from a time of profound division and epic conflict. They vary widely in appearance and workmanship, produced by a vast range of different engravers, printers & workshops. As a result of Union blockades, paper was often in short supply in the south – some of the state notes are even printed on the blank backs of re-purposed unissued sheets of earlier banknotes. The series of state-issued notes traditionally includes notes and certificates issued after the war, up through 1895, by governments in Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, South Carolina, and Tennessee. The legality of these later issues was sometimes dubious; some of these post-war notes are quite rare. In addition to the Reconstruction- & later-era issues, notes issued before the War by state governments in Alabama and North Carolina, as well as notes issued by the Republic/Territory of Florida, and the Provisional Government/Republic of Texas, are collected alongside the later notes. Texas notes, in particular, are a popular & complex field of study on their own. Notes issued by the Cherokee & Choctaw Nations, all rare, are also collected alongside the southern currency, but are almost never seen in the current market.  

 

Southern notes are generally identified by a numbering system devised by Grover Criswell (“Cr.”). This numbering system is distinct & different from Criswell numbers used to identify varieties in Confederate notes. The standard reference work in the southern states currency field is A Guide Book Of Southern States Currency: History, Rarity And Values, by Hugh Shull. Shull’s work utilizes Criswell’s numbering. Specialized references also exist for some states, and these are referenced in our listings where appropriate.


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