Bradbeer Shifts CSA World's Axis|
June 11, 2013
The U.S. Treasury’s distribution of surplus sequestered Confederate paper money stored in its vaults had an energizing effect on the CSA currency marketplace, which would be completely transformed in the years leading up to World War I.
The tenor of the times is indicated by S.H. Chapman’s sale of the fine collection of William Francis Gable on May 27, 1914. In this pre-Bradbeer era, Chapman used both Thian and Haseltine numbers in his catalog, although he found the Thian system wanting. In the Gable sale, a Montgomery $1,000 brought $42, the Montgomery $500 in VF brought $48, and the $5 Manouvrier in Fine, $11. According to Wayne Hilton’s research (see below), that was the highest price achieved at public auction to that date for a Montgomery $1,000, except for Henry Chapman’s 1908 $50 sale of Harmon Chambers’ M-note.
Gable (Feb. 12, 1856-Nov. 28, 1921) had opened a dry goods business in 1884, and formed the bulk of his paper money collection in the 1890s. His yard goods store was immensely successful and threw off a lot of money for its owner to pursue his other interests. Gable built up an immense coin collection, and indulged in other hobbies. Following his death, the sale of his art collection, autographs, manuscripts, books and other holdings comprised no fewer than eight additional sales, November 1923-April 1925.(1)
Another major sale of the period that attracted headlines was Wayte Raymond’s U.S. Coin Co. sale of a “Large Collection of Confederate and Other Paper Money” sold on June 29, 1914. Raymond’s auctions got play in the general media. On June 19, 1914, the New York Times published a large notice about the sale to be held 10 days later at 200 Fifth Ave., New York City.
The Times called it “the most complete assortment of Confederate currency which has been offered to collectors since the Chambers’ sale and contains innumerable varieties hitherto unpublished.… There are a large number of watermarks which have never been offered before and a splendid assortment of notes sorted as to series and letters…” the account continued.
According to CSA note expert Pierre Fricke: “Indeed, perusing the catalog, one finds a large collection of Confederate paper money and while not a complete type set, it goes well beyond that in most other regards. The catalog rarely used any of the great 19th century works (Haseltine, Massamore, Thian, Lee, etc...) and primarily uses descriptions. Note, the Bradbeer book was not yet published.”(2)
Enter William West Bradbeer
Just as the movement of great subterranean plates floating beneath the landscape we daily see, shape the topography of this globe lifting up mountain ranges and plunging regions below sea level, tumultuous occurrences can rearrange the landscape of our hobbies too when generational events occur. The world of CSA currency collecting experienced just such an epochal event shortly before the Great War for Civilization.
Soon the entire world of CSA currency collecting would shift on its axis with the publication of William West Bradbeer’s $3 book, an event foreshadowed years before it appeared in print when George H. Blake leaked word of it in early 1911.(3) Bradbeer (1855-1927) authored several articles on Confederate and Southern States notes in The Numismatist in 1911 and 1913 respectively.(4) In February 1914 he gave an “Interesting Lecture on Confederate Paper Money” at the New York Numismatic Club.(5)
After the business portion of the meeting had been conducted, including resolutions of sympathy over the death of Chicago dealer Ben Green, the club adjourned to the Park Avenue Hotel for a banquet and Bradbeer’s lecture. Club secretary Moritz Wormser records the following in the club’s minutes: “Mr. W.W. Bradbeer gave an extremely interesting lecture on Confederate Paper Currency. The lecture was illustrated by some forty or fifty lantern slides which showed some very rare paper issues of the Confederacy and gave the audience a great deal of historical information in connection with the subject with which they had been entirely unfamiliar.”(6)
The cost of Bradbeer’s illustrated lecture was underwritten by prominent dealer Lyman Low. Low, it will be remembered by readers of this series, had been the force behind the successful Scott Stamp &?Coin Co. CSA catalogs decades earlier. A report on the festivities appears in the March 1914 issue of the ANA monthly. The immediate effect of Bradbeer’s talk was to encourage other collectors to display their Confederate treasures. At its June 12 meeting F.C.C. Boyd exhibited “Eight different essays for Confederate notes (backs) of five, ten, & 20 dollars, captured on blockade,” as well as other Confederate material.(7)
In 1915 on the 50th anniversary of the war’s end, Bradbeer’s opus appeared under the title Confederate and Southern State Currency: Historical and Financial Data, Biographical Sketches, Descriptions with Illustrations, Mt. Vernon, N.Y.: privately printed by the author, 165 N. Fulton Avenue, 1915, 162 pages with halftone illustrations within the text.(8) “Confederate and Southern State currency is the epitome of Civil War history,” Bradbeer wrote. “The currency of the South reflects the buoyant hope and utter despair of a people who staked their all and lost.” Bradbeer anchors his research in the CSA currency legislation, as well as standard works by Jefferson Davis, Memminger’s biographer Henry D. Capers and the memoirs of his Davis’ wife Varina.
He offers a great deal of historical information, as well as variety rarities. The book is also apparently based in part on the early descriptive work accomplished by Thian. Bradbeer numbered the Confederate series by variety consecutively from the Montgomery $1,000 through the Jefferson Davis 50-center of 1864, a total of 579 issues. Experts report that “Mr. Bradbeer was employed by (New York City dealer) Rud. (Rudolf) Kohler (at 70 Fifth Ave.) for years and to the greatest extent it was the stock of Kohler that gave Mr. Bradbeer his information.”(9) When Bradbeer’s book came out, Kohler donated a copy of it to the Virginia State Library.(10)
The book was announced in the August 1915 issue of The Numismatist.
Among the details to be gleaned from Bradbeer: he correctly identified the Montgomery $500 as being slightly rarer than the companion Montgomery $1,000 value. Additional rarities identified by Bradbeer included the 1861 Richmond error $100 with “For Treas’r” printed twice (only 300 issued, #s 3726-4026), and his #s 95-98 1861 $50 Jeff Davis (239 issued signed by Ellet & Keesse), which he characterizes as “the rarest of the Confederacy.” Apparently it was Bradbeer who first dubbed the maiden “Indian Princess” on the famous type. Bradbeer gives the number of Indian Princess notes issued as 7,160.(11) He also correctly identifies the error on the Blanton Duncan printed deuce note dated Sept. 2, 1861. “No Confederate note less than $5 was authorized in 1861…this type is dated…through an error.”
He labels the Sept. 2, 1862 R.M.T. Hunter $10 and $20 notes with Keatings (sic) imprint “essai notes,” and ascribes a rarity 7 to them (rarer than Montgomery $50 and $100 types). Some of the varieties listed by Bradbeer do not exist, and he misidentified John Elliott Ward as E.C. Elmore on the 1861 $10, and Lucy Pickens as Varina (Mrs. Jefferson) Davis on the 1862-64 $100 notes (duplicating an error that also appears in the works of Lee, Haseltine, Massamore and Thian).
This continuing error is difficult to understand as Ms. Pickens lived until Aug. 8, 1899, yet was so incognizant of Confederate currency collecting, that she never stepped forward to challenge the repetition of her mis-identifications.
Nevertheless, Bradbeer’s work elicited high praise, was widely disseminated and used by hobbyists. Interestingly Bradbeer’s identification of Elmore sought to rectify the 50-year error that identified the portrait as being Williamson Oldham and had been accepted by “all historians, collectors, and dealers in Confederate money, prior to 1915.”(12) Despite its warts, collector/cataloger Philip Chase called it: ”undoubtedly the most comprehensive and detailed listing of Confederate currency up to that time.… His listing has been followed by many of the specialists and deserves great credit for the inclusion of detail information on watermarks, and generally accurate information on the degree of rarity of each variety.”
Bradbeer also included a catalog of Southern States currency in the same format as the Confederate currency section. Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, North Carolina, South Carolina, Texas, and Virginia were represented. Bradbeer included state notes from during the Civil War and a few from the Reconstruction period. These, too, were organized by Act and printer with each state having its own number sequence from 1 to n. Bradbeer used the same rarity scale in this section, a relative rarity scale with no absolute population estimates from 1 through 9 for the rarest.
Bradbeer’s book was transformative. The book immediately appeared in dealer’s ads. By the March 1916 issue of The Numismatist no fewer than three dealers would sell you one. The publication’s editor Frank Duffield made repeated mentions of the spurt in CSA issues and the importance of a numismatic searchlight such as Bradbeer’s book in his editorial columns in the magazine. Typical is this recommendation, “The recent publication of the exhaustive compilation of the series of Confederate Government notes, with those of the Southern States uttered during the war, by Mr. W. W. Bradbeer, has been well received, and should be followed by similar works on other divisions of the subject.”(13) A year after Bradbeer’s book was published “The Confederate Bill [is] still in the Limelight,” he wrote.(14) The hyping continued. Several months later, he labeled the phenomenon “Persistent Push and Pitiless Publicity.”(15)
The reception to Bradbeer’s book was overwhelmingly positive. Venerable Philadelphia dealer Henry Chapman called it “splendid.” Numismatist editor Duffield said it remedied a crying need for the collector, since the Scott catalog published two decades earlier “is the only guide collectors of paper money have generally had.” Syracuse dealer A. Atlas Leve predicted this “elegant” book would lead to a profusion of new institutional CSA note collections in libraries grand and small. In 1915 David Proskey was offering an eight-piece denomination set (presumably 1864s) for a buck. He also sold the “small size” 1864 $100 Confederate note (Bradbeer-491) in “perfect” for a mere 50 cents. To drum up business for the note, he exhibited one at the Aug. 13, 1915, meeting of the New York Numismatic Club. The venerable New York dealer Tom Elder called attention to the affect Bradbeer’s book had had on the marketplace. “The Confederate series also is looking up, due largely to the labors of Mr. W.W. Bradbeer in issuing his fine book on those issues.”(16)
Almost immediately the Bulletin of the Virginia State Library endorsed Bradbeer’s work as “the best book on the subject.”(17) Confederate currency researcher and author W.D. Allen correctly predicted that Bradbeer’s opus “will be [the] standard authority for years.”(18) One of the principle CSA currency dealers of the period, Luther B. Tuthill, of South Creek, N.C. was a big fan of Bradbeer’s book, which he sold for $3.50. Tuthill, it will be remembered had addressed the ANA convention on the subject of CSA treasury notes two decades earlier. In the mid-teens he was still a big fan of the series.
“We all have our hobbies” was Tuthill’s motto. In the November, 1915 issue of The Numismatist he advertised 21 Montgomery notes for sale. He called them all “beauties” and priced the $500s at $55, the C-notes at 8.50 and the $50s at $7.50. According to the dealer, “I have four of the first, six of the second, and eleven of the third — the best and largest lot I have ever owned at a time or expect to have again.” Tuthill was so sure of his notes that he offered to send them on approval. “Do not remit with order. They may be sold,” he added.(19)
Bradbeer’s reference also well-served historians of the following generations, particularly notable were Dr. E. Merton Coulter, Dr. Richard Cecil Todd and Dr. Douglas Ball, and other catalogers, including dealer Grover Criswell who “borrowed” from Bradbeer liberally.(20) As important as Bradbeer was to the growth and development of Confederate Currency collecting, his achievement was soon overshadowed by the monumental research of H.D. Allen, whose seminal work and name are unfortunately almost forgotten today.(21) The field found a spokesperson in the person of a self-professed Boston, Massachusetts “Confederate Money Historian.”(22)
H.D. Allen, Forgotten CSA Money Historian
The U.S. Treasury’s CSA paper money gifts described last month had extremely fortuitous effects. Encountering a newspaper blurb dated Aug. 13, 1912, “stating that the United States government had on hand a large amount of Confederate money which ‘came into the possession of the Union army at the close of the war,’ and that rather than destroy it a selection of such notes would be sent to any public library which would agree to preserve and display it as a historical exhibit illustrating an epoch in the history of this country,” Allen sent the clipping to his niece, a small town librarian in the Boston bedroom communities of Shirley and Brookline.
The niece followed Allen’s suggestion and sent in a request for some of these notes. “In due course of time the bills arrived. After being held by the trustees for a year or two, they were sent to me [Allen] with a request to have them framed. There were fourteen notes in all and in a bad state of preservation. Some were scorched on the edges by fire, some had large holes punched in them (cancellation evidence), and most of them were so worn as to be really unfit to exhibit.”
“Up to this time I had never seen a Confederate note,” Allen continued. “As soon as I began to study them I realized that there must be many more bills of the various issues. Then I conceived the idea of assembling a nice collection, having it framed under glass, and placing under each bill a typewritten article covering everything of historical interest that I could discover, partly as a model for Southern libraries to follow,” he added.(23)
What followed was a feverish yearlong research project to track down the historical antecedents of all the CSA bills he could discover. Then for the next several years, Boston Numismatic Society member Allen would describe and illustrate the series while continuing his research from the prominent platform of the national association’s journal, The Numismatist, in a manner no one before nor since has done. Allen’s discoveries were game-changing to the collection, study and understanding of the Confederate series.
Allen did not rely on previous collector works. He did his own primary research, often soliciting information in the Confederate Veteran and elsewhere. In some instances he even paid cash for leads. After several preliminary CSA articles, his monumental series “Paper Money of the Confederate States” per se began in June, 1917, and followed monthly to February 1919. It would be difficult to overstate the importance of a lengthy series of articles on Confederate currency published in the nation’s premier numismatic hobby publication of that era, The Numismatist, during the world war period. Month after month Allen beat the drum for the CSA series, and he would sell you notes too. A broad range of additional collectors was exposed to the Confederate series through the 88 excellent historical and descriptive articles written by Allen.
From his erudition, it is reasonable to infer that Allen was well educated and versed in Greco-Roman mythology, as well as Holy Scripture. He repeatedly references both traditions in his explanations of currency designs. The author was also very conversant with artistic and historical research, and collected photographs and other items relating to Confederate currency. Allen also had a good familiarity with broken bank and obsolete notes from an earlier era as he points out numerous antecedents for design similarities between the CSA notes and these earlier 19th century currencies.
These articles were a mainstay of Vols. 30-32 of the ANA monthly. He commenced with the Montgomery $50 and continued through the 1864 Stonewall Jackson $500, with additional articles on the $10 essai and the chemicographic backs. This series presents valuable information on the vignettes appearing on the CSA notes, and very detailed original research by the author.
Especially important are Allen’s discussions of the $20 Female Riding Deer note, the Chemicograph backs, and his correcting the identification of Lucy Pickens (whom Bradbeer had misidentified as Mrs. Jefferson [Varina] Davis) on the $100 notes. Allen’s research was thorough and comprehensive. He provides data on numbers of notes issued and lucid descriptions of varieties. The Numismatist editor Duffield named him “the man with the numismatic searchlight.”(24)
Allen spent two years to establish the true identity of John Elliot Ward on the 1861 $10 note and rectify an error in the Bradbeer and earlier listings. In the January 1917 issue of The Numismatist Duffield “was pleased to say that after going wrong for fifty years, the result of this search has made the most interesting single-item contribution to the whole history of Confederate money.” Allen also spent two years trying to locate an original portrait to confirm the identity of Lucy Pickens on the June 2, 1862 $2 bill, correcting the works of Lee, Thian, Haseltine, Massamore, Scott, and others, who had accepted from the earliest date the misidentification of Mrs. Jefferson Davis.
Allen also debunks the identification of the child on the Sept. 2, 1861 note that also bears a portrait of R.M.T. Hunter. Prior writers had described the child as being that of Blanton Duncan, one of the CSA note printers. Allen ascribes the lad to Keatinge and Ball, who engraved this bill and would not have placed on it the likeness of a child of one of their competitors. Allen’s Segment No. 73 further corrects the historical record by correctly identifying the April 6, 1863 $10 note central vignette as depicting the South Carolina state capitol at Columbia. To that time the building had been universally accepted as the Capitol at Montgomery, Ala. Allen credits W.A. Clark of Columbia, “who besides being an untiring collector, has one of the largest collections of Confederate money in the United States,” for setting him and the historical record straight on this matter.(25)
As might be expected the reception to Allen’s extended series was electric. Numismatic organizations such as the New York Numismatic Club, the Rochester Numismatic Association, and the Boston Numismatic Society contributed funds to subsidize publication of the series in the ANA journal. Prices advanced.(26) At Lyman Low’s 194th sale in New York City May 22, 1918, a Montgomery $1,000 in “fine, slight wear” brought $32.50. Luther Tuthill started asking $57 for his perfect Montgomery $500s now, and he advanced his top flight $50s and $100s to $9.50 each. With each installment of Allen’s series, Tuthill would be sure to offer the same bills in his ads. For the beginner Kansas City (later Salt Lake City) dealer Norm Shultz offered an eight-denomination (50 cents to $100) type set for 55 cents.
Duffield had his finger on the pulse of the hobby as usual when he donned his other hat as the publication’s business manager and cajoled advertisers: “Dealers in Confederate paper money will have many requests for prices, etc., of these notes in the next few months from a new class of buyers. An advertisement in these pages will reach these buyers and bring considerable new business.” For their part, the ANA advertised in the Confederate Veteran magazine.
At its 1917 annual convention in Rochester, N.Y. the ANA Committee on Resolutions voted “Especial thanks are due to Mr. H.D. Allen, through whose efforts the members of this Association are being provided with an illustrated history of the Confederate paper money.” North Carolina dealer Luther Tuthill was sure a believer. One of Tuthill’s ads read: “Mr. Allen’s Historical Papers on Confederate Treasury Notes are interesting and are making new collectors.” Meanwhile A. Atlas Leve noted: “My good friend H.D. Allen of Boston is doing Great Work in Confederate Numismatic Lore…and now is the time to start a collection of Confederate Paper Money.” In September 1918, Leve offered a “perfect” $500 Montgomery for $85. Readers, too, flooded the publication with appreciation for the series.
Duffield heralded the close of Allen’s series in the ANA journal’s February 1919 issue. He also took out a house ad in the publication in 1919: “All back numbers of The Numismatist containing Mr. H.D. Allen’s articles on the paper money of the Confederate States, beginning with June 1917 can be obtained at 15¢ a copy.” Readers applauded. Allen did an encore in the April 1919 issue, writing about Confederate Treasurer Edward C. Elmore. In May Duffield disappointed some members when he announced there would be no reprint of Allen’s Confederate paper money articles.(27) The association also raised the price on back issues to raise additional funds, and beginning in November ran a $5 special (the price had previously been $2.85) on the 21 issues containing Allen’s series proper (July 1917-February 1919), “while the supply lasts” postpaid.(28)
In 1919-1920 Allen advertised in The Numismatist “Broken Bank Bills Wanted. I am assembling numismatic exhibits of broken bank bills for several public libraries and historical societies. Send anything you have on approval.” Allen described one such display he built for a summer hotel in Camden, Maine. The hotel proprietor’s name was Elmore, although not related to the CSA Treasurer. In a frame 2 1/2 by 3 1/2 he mounted a great many Confederate bills with descriptions.
“Many auto tourists stopped at the hotel,” Allen said, “and I had the time of my life sitting in the lobby and watching them examining the contents of the frame.”(29) It seemed everybody was on the Confederate bus. Allen’s collection was sold by Boston dealer William Hesslein, sale No. 134, Nov. 22-23, 1929.
Not All Treasury Gifts Were of the Official Variety
This columnist has written extensively on the so-called “Richmond Hoard,” that included redeemed and largely canceled CSA paper money issues captured by federal soldiers on the fall of Richmond, Va. in April 1865. Those notes were originally under the watch of the Army’s Adjutant General’s office, and specifically its chief clerk Raphael P. Thian, who mined that resource for his seminal works on this topic. That hoard is currently under the conservation of the National Numismatic Collection Senior Curator Dr. Richard Doty, who has curated the material, published extensively on its contents, and been a friend and great resource to this column over the years.
More will be written on the federal government’s Rebel treasury in coming chapters, but last month’s column about the deaccessions of federally-controlled rebel notes by the U.S. Treasury Department prior to World War I jogged this writer’s memory on an active correspondence transacted some months ago, which neatly dovetails with events currently under discussion.
Just prior to Christmas 2011, I received an email forwarded by Texas dealer Col. Crutchfield Williams. The inquiry had come from philatelist Kevin Lowther, who had acquired a cover (shown here, courtesy of Kevin) that intrigued him. (30) Philatelic dealer Trish [Patricia A.] Kaufmann had suggested to Lowther that he contact Crutch to learn more about the cover for a possible story for The American Stamp Dealer & Collector magazine.
As can be seen, the registered cover had been sent by Thos. H. Ridgate in a U.S. Treasury Department penalty envelope to Judge Samuel M. Wilson, Lexington, Ky. with a return receipt requested. Someone had additionally written “Confederate Money / Valuable” on the face of the cover in pencil. (Note, the cover’s owner reads the message slightly differently from the present writer.)
According to Lowther’s research, “The registered envelope was mailed in 1915 by Thomas H. Ridgate, a senior clerk at the U. S. Treasury, to Judge Samuel M. Wilson, an attorney and amateur historian in Lexington. Someone, possibly Judge Wilson, has scrawled on the face of the cover “Confed note money Valuable.” This presumably suggests that Ridgate, who had known Wilson for several years, had enclosed Confederate currency, which had some value as collectibles.
“My research has determined thus far that the Curator of the Treasury has no information regarding whether the U.S. Government would have been holding, in the early 1900s, large amounts of confiscated Confederate currency,” the philatelist continued. “This discounts the possibility that Ridgate was quietly sending samples, from Treasury holdings, to Wilson. The most obvious conclusion is that Ridgate and Wilson were both collectors of Confederate currency and perhaps exchanged personal material from time to time. But the obvious conclusion is not always the right one.”
So, the collector wanted to know several things: (1) Did the U.S. Treasury, in fact, hold Confederate currency at any time? And if so, why and until when? (2) Since the 50th anniversary years of the Civil War were winding down in 1915. Had there been renewed collector interest in Confederate currency in this period? (3) What can we say generally about the collectibility and market value of Confederate currency circa 1915?
He added, “The penalty envelope used by Ridgate refers in the upper left corner to the Division of Loans and Currency. Ridgate may have been the senior clerk in the office managing this department. This tends to underscore Ridgate’s interest in currency notes.”(31)
Naturally, Williams provided Mr. Lowther good answers to his several questions, and readers of this column would have similar information, but of course this column’s consideration of these topics would be many months in the future as we were then discussing Thian’s contributions, and collecting CSA paper money through the late 19th century in issues up to June 2012. (See Parts 73-84) This discussion thread was then broken in July 2012 by 10 consecutive columns on the miserable advent of the federal government’s Postage Currency, and other northern fractional money expedients, including scrip and postage stamp envelopes. (See Parts 85-94)
However, I also supplied Lowther information relating to his inquiries. In brief, I wrote him: “I have done a good bit of research on the government holdings of CSA Treasury Notes, but your letter and inquiry is a new wrinkle. Both the U.S. Treasury and the U.S. Department of War held large quantities of CSA Treasury Notes for more than 50 years following the Civil War.
“Notes in the Treasury hoard were confiscated throughout the war. They were used sporadically to purchase cattle for the federal armies in the west, and sent to Union POWs for use as subterfuge.… Notes in the War Department hoard were captured following the fall of Richmond. They were loosely under the Adjutant General’s Department, little valued, and during the period c. 1875-c. 1908 were employed in the research of Chief AG clerk Raphael P. Thian. Thian and others also sold or otherwise disbursed notes from the hoard to third parties largely by fiat.
“Circa 1912-1913 the U.S. Treasury did indeed send quantities of CSA notes to the types of organizations and institutions that Crutch wrote you about, libraries, historical societies, GAR posts, etc. I date this dispersals to c. 1912-1913 because those are the dates on transmittal letters that I have seen. Sometime in the 1910s the two hoards were coalesced, according to “shop lore” within the Smithsonian Institution.
“In 1920 a large quantity, reported at $60 million face, warehoused at the U.S. Treasury was burned to make room for other storage. The former-War Department Hoard has come down to the present, through the National Archives to currently in the custody of the Smithsonian Institution.”(32)
The collector responded immediately. “Thanks for this extraordinary information. Along with Crutch’s contributions, it strongly suggests that Ridgate would have had access to Confederate currency from U.S. Treasury holdings. The question remains why, when he sent some notes to Judge Wilson in Kentucky, he sent them in an unofficial capacity, albeit in a Treasury penalty envelope. The date, by the way, was May 11, 1915.”
“Judge Wilson was quite a prominent figure in Kentucky,” Lowther continued. He also considered himself a serious local historian. Your information suggests that he might have requested Ridgate, whom he had known for some years, to send him Confederate notes for the state historical society, or some similar charity. I have been in touch with the person in charge of Wilson’s papers, at the University of Kentucky Library, and he cannot find any correspondence or documentation that might explain what was going on. I shall try to whet his interest further by sharing with him what you and Crutch have passed along.”(33) Postal historian Lowther was especially keen to understand why “a Treasury official would mark the envelope personal and pay the postage when he sent what apparently was a valuable (meaning collectible) amount of Confederate notes to a private citizen.” Curator Doty observed that if the sender “were of the free-and-easy persuasion, he very well might have just sent an unauthorized batch out to a correspondent.”(34)
Several other exchanges among this informal study group ensued. In one Lowther added more details on the envelope’s recipient Judge Wilson. “Judge Wilson was an active member of several state historical societies in the region —including Tennessee. It’s conceivable that the Confederate notes sent to him were to be shared with some of those societies. Although he wrote and spoke frequently over the years on regional history, none of his subjects dealt with the Confederacy per se. Nor is there any indication that he was a collector, although you might want to check numismatic society membership lists.”(35)
The postal historian sent me a draft of his interesting article submitted to The American Stamp Dealer & Collector the following March.(36) The envelope’s sender Thomas Howe Ridgate, then 68, “was from an old Tidewater Maryland family. He had spent most of his career at Treasury, where he appears to have held a senior position in the Division of Loans and Currency.”(37) Recipient Judge Samuel Mackay Wilson was “only 44 and a respected jurist in Lexington.…[H]e was deeply interested in local history, about which he frequently spoke and wrote. He belonged to several state and regional historical societies and had ambitious plans—never fulfilled—to write major works on the history of Kentucky and the Ohio River Valley.”(38)
They had been good friends for years. The original of the Ridgate photograph shown here is inscribed “Thomas Howe Ridgate… To my friend, Judge Samuel M. Wilson.” Author Lowther cites another such inscription on a different photograph taken on the roof of the U.S. Treasury Building.
I don’t know if Kevin’s article has been published, because unfortunately the email address that I have for him has lapsed, and my recent email to apprise him of what I had additionally learned was undeliverable. Perhaps a reader, who is also a stamp collector, has seen it and can advise. However I have found out a little bit more about Ridgate that is worth putting down on the record here. Ridgate (Sep. 9, 1846-Dec. 3, 1922) was born in Washington, D.C. On Jan. 22, 1867, the U.S. Senate confirmed him third lieutenant in the Revenue Cutter Service.(39) He was a clerk in the Office of the Register of the Treasury making $1,400 per annum by July 1, 1883.(40) Two years later he was still at this post.(41) However, by 1887, he had transferred to the Office of the Sixth auditor for the Post Office Department at the same salary. On July 1, 1893, he was making $1,600.(42) He is buried in Oakhill Cemetery, Washington, D.C.
The envelope’s recipient Judge Samuel Mackay Wilson (Oct. 15, 1871-Oct. 10, 1946) was born in Louisville, Ky. and died in St. Louis. He was the son of Samuel Ramsay Wilson and Mary Bell Wilson. He married Mary Shelby Wilson and is buried at Lexington Cemetery, Lexington, Ky.(43) He attended Centre College in Danville, Ky. and Williams College in Williamstown, Mass. and was admitted to the bar in 1895. Following service in France during World War I, he returned to Lexington, built up a lucrative law practice and became “a power in local and state Democratic Party political circles.” His obituary credited him with “65 meticulously researched articles and books.”(44)
Judge Wilson was very favorably admired for his antiquarian pursuits. “Judge Samuel Mackay Wilson, scholarly lawyer and historian,…exercised his literary talent in his insatiable search for facts pertaining to the lives of those Kentuckians who shaped the early destiny of the Commonwealth. In both his writings and book and documentary collections Judge Wilson created a rich legacy for the future. None of Judge Wilson’s accomplishments, however, will endure in time so brilliantly as the magnificent collection of his books and manuscripts now in the Special Collections division of the University of Kentucky Library.”(45)
To be continued…
A Personal Note
As always, I welcome feedback from BNR readers. We cover a lot of ground in this column, and it’s surprising what sparks the interest of individuals. Questions, comments, cheers or jeers are welcome. You can contact me through my personal website www.fredwritesright.com or by mail at P.O. Box 118162, Carrollton, TX 75011-8162. If you write and wish a reply, please include a self-addressed stamped envelope, but please be aware that if your subject is of interest generally it may be addressed in a future column instead.
Excellent New Book Covers Montgomeries
The return to a discussion of CSA note collecting as the focus of this series is an auspicious occasion because it presents a natural segue for my pen to bring to readers’ attention the release of a wonderful new book on this historical series of paper money. The new book in question is destined most likely to become a high water mark in the ongoing saga of Rebel note collecting in the future.
Every writing course instructor stresses that authors should write about what they know best, so it should come as no surprise to Bank Note Reporter readers that South Carolina collector Wayne Hilton, who has been a special friend to this column furnishing its author many important documents over the years and who has assembled no fewer than 10 four-note condition census sets of high grade CSA?Montgomery notes should have spun an amazing tome on this high-valued, historic series.
Any new book on Confederate currency is a cause for excitement. The appearance of a great new book on this topic is cause for joy. Collector-investor Jerry Wayne Hilton’s Collecting Confederate Currency Hobby or and Investment. Volume One: Criswell Types 1-4 “The Magnificent Montgomerys” is indeed such a book.
In it the author conveys his journey quantifying the investment return advantage (if any) enjoyed by a collector of high grade Montgomerys vs. more traditional investments. To assess his position the author spent approximately 14 years attempting to record every CSA Montgomery note sale at public auction since the Civil War.
Hilton then turned over his data to college professor and frequent paper money author Dr. Steve Feller to assess return rates over the last 150 years. According to Hilton’s data and Feller’s calculations, an investor in the marketplace over the entire last 150 years would have benefited from purchases of CSA Montgomery notes compared to like investments in silver bullion, barrels of oil, or corporate stock (represented by the S&P Average).
The data and calculations reveal two distinct phases in investment growth over the last century and a half: (1) through World War II; and (2) since mid-20th century. Rates of return for investments considered (including CSA Montgomery Notes) accelerated in the more recent phase. Having satisfied his desire to quantify and gauge his investment returns, investor Hilton proceeded to share his joy of collecting in the present volume, the first of several such books in which he plans to record the sales of the first 38 Criswell CSA types and the two so-called “essays.”
We are indebted to Wayne for importuning Chet Krause and Clarence Criswell to recall their own illustrious excursions into this field. By prevailing upon them to reveal hidden nuggets from personal experience, Wayne succeeded in coaxing them onto the historical record for readers not yet born to enjoy. Their essays are tiny gems.
Hilton also provides an interesting account of his own introduction to CSA currency collecting through his brother, and his background in media and advertising.
Following these very enjoyable preliminaries, Chapter 1 offers Hilton’s reasoned but highly selective, illustrated timeline of a century and a half of collecting CSA paper money that is very readable and his style pleasing. He includes many “firsts,” which the present reviewer also regards as hallmarks of this saga, but ignores – it must be admitted – other more important events during that time.
Chapter 2 provides a brief summary of numismatic auction history based on his first-hand, rigorous examination of thousands of auction catalogs. ?However, the gem of this chapter is his quantifying rarity of various CSA type notes based on frequency of auction appearances. Chapter 3, co-authored by respected researcher, dealer Crutch Williams provides a highly speculative account of Montgomery note printing in the North early in 1861.
In Chapter 4 statistician Feller explains his method of return rate calculations presented in the volume.
The meat of the book is Chapters 5-8, which detail all Montgomery note auction appearances Hilton could discover in some 30,000 or so numismatic auctions in the last 150 years. The author’s research is to be commended. His detailed listings and illustrations of the four Montgomery note types provide eye candy and solid historical data much appreciated by collectors and researchers in this field.
Quality printing, binding, paper and jacket (art by John W. Jones) compliment the work. However, this book is not perfect, nor should one expect the brainchild of an auteur to be so as a self-published work. This book would have been much stronger for me if the author had skipped Chapter 3 altogether. The book could be improved by an editor. It also begs a condition census, running heads, and index.
However, its most serious failing is the author’s disregard of the accomplishments of Confederate currency author Pierre Fricke in the last decade. His contributions to the history of CSA note collecting are entirely excluded from the discussion except obliquely referenced in a single instance as “contemporary author” or something of the kind with regard to a Stack’s inventory of the remnants of the John Browne collection in 1969.
Given its great strengths, however, I highly recommend this book and look forward to the additional tomes. It will be interesting to see what Hilton does for an encore. The subsidized cost is modest $49.95 (offset by ad revenue) plus $5 postage & handling. Mail checks to J. Wayne Hilton, P.O. Box 1, Graniteville, SC 29829-0001. Mention whether an autograph is desired; I did.
1. “Auction Catalogs Collection Finding Aid: Manuscripts and Special Collections, New York State Library, http://www.nysl.nysed.gov/msscfa/qc16542.htm.
2. Pierre Fricke and Fred Reed, History of Collecting Confederate States of America Paper Money, Volume 1, 1865-1945, privately printed, 2012, p. 205.
3. “In this number of The Numismatist will be found an article on Confederate Currency by Mr. W.W. Bradbeer, who is well known as a collector and one of the foremost students of Confederate paper money. Mr. Bradbeer is now engaged in preparing a book on this subject and will publish it in the near future. It will contain information of new and important discoveries which he has made, and will be a valuable reference work for collectors, as well as entertaining reading for the general public. Before publishing his book, Bradbeer has consented to write several articles for The Numismatist on topics relating to Confederate issues of bonds and paper money, and we feel that our readers will be enlightened as well as entertained by the perusal of these articles.” “A New Work to be Published,” The Numismatist, May 1911, p. 173. This writer has been unable to find a picture of Bradbeer, a numismatic want second only – in this writer’s opinion – to not finding a picture of W. Elliott Woodward.
4. W.W. Bradbeer, “Some Rare Confederate Currency,” The Numismatist, November, 1911, p. 411; W.W. Bradbeer, “Southern State Currency,” The Numismatist, February, 1913, p. 72. Remarkably very little is known, and virtually nothing has heretofore been published in numismatic literature about William West Bradbeer aside from details relating to his remarkable book on Rebel currency. He was born June 22, 1855, in Cobourg, Ontario, Canada to English immigrants John Bradbeer (1809-1879) and Bessie Dale (1816-1890). Bradbeer came to the United States c. 1875, and went west to Kansas City, Mo. before 1888. He is listed in the 1889 Kansas City Directory. He married Lydia Jane “Jennie” Corbett (also b. 1855) in 1887, and the couple had three children. Bradbeer became a naturalized U.S. citizen Oct. 15, 1888, in Jackson County, Mo. (probably Kansas City or Independence, Mo.). Bradbeer resided in Mount Vernon, N.Y. before January 1900, when he was a founder of the community’s Commercial Travelers Club, according to a local newspaper account. He was employed as the New York manager of M.H. Birge & Sons Co., a wallpaper company headquartered in Buffalo, NY; Trow’s Copartnership Directory, 1901. Bradbeer was accorded membership in the American Numismatic Society on April 14, 1905. In the 1910 U.S. census, Bradbeer listed his profession as “Commercial Traveler” (i.e., salesman) dealing in wallpaper. On Nov. 3, 1914, Bradbeer ran for the New York State Assembly from Westchester County’s Second District. He finished fourth in the race on the Progressive Ticket; The New York Red Book, 1915, p. 725. Within a year of the publication of his book, Bradbeer moved to 113 Milne Street, Cranford, N.J., and shortly thereafter donated “some fine examples of Confederate money” to the Essex Institute; Annual Report of the Essex Institute for the Year Ending May 5, 1919, Salem, MA: printed for the institute, 1919, p. 15.) Bradbeer’s other publications are largely unheralded by collectors today. In July 1919 the North Carolina Society of Daughters of the American Revolution published The North Carolina Booklet, vol. XIX nos. 1-2, co-authored by Bradbeer and five other contributors. His contribution was an extract on North Carolina state currency from his book Confederate and Southern State Currency. It comprises pps. 36-46 of the booklet, and is available online at http://tinyurl.com/cpzp4nk In 1921 a local newspaper, the Cranford Citizen and Chronicle, serialized Bradbeer’s account of New Jersey’s colonial and state paper money, “New Jersey Paper Currency, 1709-1786.” The first installment appeared in the Sept. 22 issue. In January 1923, the New Jersey Historical Society reprinted Bradbeer’s New Jersey paper money essay, which is still available today as an electronic download from amazon.com or digitalantiquaria.com. He died in Chicago on June 20, 1927. “William West Bradbeer,” ancestry.com; A genealogical history of the Rehoboth branch of the Carpenter family in America, brought down from their English ancestor, John Carpenter, 1303, with many biographical notes of descendants and allied families, p. 50; “Formal Opening [of the] Commercial Travelers Club,” Mount Vernon Daily Argus, January 19, 1900, p. 1; “The American Numismatic and Archaeological Society,” The Numismatic Circular, vol. 13 (July 1905), p. 8473; 1910 United States Federal Census; H.D. Allen, “Confederacy Borrows Design for Note,” The Numismatist, August 1916, p. 346; William W. Bradbeer, “New Jersey Paper Currency, 1709-1786” Proceedings of the New Jersey Historical Society, vol. VIII New Series no. 1 (January 1923).
5. “New York Numismatic Club,” The Numismatist, February 1914, p. 75; “Interesting Lecture on Confederate Paper Money,” The Numismatist, February 1914, p. 77. This meeting occurred February 13, 1914, at which Bradbeer – a guest – applied for membership in the club. Op cit., p. 131, 132, 133. Bradbeer was elected to the organization the following month, The Numismatist, April 1914, p. 205, 206.
6. Wormser’s account continued: “Mr. Bradbeer gave especially interesting and valuable information in regard to the early issues; the laws passed on the subject by the several States, and the Congress of the Confederacy; the printing of notes; and the allegories and pictures represented on the notes; and on the astounding total volume of paper money so issued.” He continued, “Altogether, the lecture provided one of the most interesting evenings spent by the New York Numismatic Club, and great appreciation was generally expressed for Mr. Low’s and Mr. Bradbeer’s efforts in providing such a successful meeting.” op cit., p. 133.
7. The Numismatist, September, 1914, p. 450; John N. Lupia, “Boyd, Frederick Charles Cogswell,” Encyclopedic Dictionary of Numismatic Biographies, https://sites.google.com/site/numismaticmallcom/encyclopedic-dictionary-of-numismatic-biographies/boyd-frederick-charles-cogswell.
8. W.W. Bradbeer, 165 N. Fulton Ave., Mount Vernon, N.Y. is listed as a “Publisher” in Sarah B. Ball, and John Cotton Dana, 1600 Business Books; Arranged by Authors, By Titles and By Subjects, New York City: H.W. Wilson Co., 1917, p. 221.
9. These quoted words (less the clarifying insertions) are from a hand-annotation in Virgil Brand’s copy of the Bradbeer book, according to present owner J. Wayne Hilton; books.google.com lists a catalog by Kohler on Catalog of Confederate Currency, Southern States and Other Notes, not seen.
10. Report of the Virginia State Library, vol. 12, 1914-1915, p. 29.
11. Bradbeer no. 271, Bradbeer, Confederate and Southern State Currency, p. 73.
12. Bradbeer, Confederate and Southern State Currency, p. 193.
13. Frank Duffield, “Editorial,” The Numismatist, February 1916, p. 65.
14. Frank Duffield, “Editorial: The Confederate Bill Still in the Limelight,” The Numismatist, September 1916, p. 406.
15. Frank Duffield, “Editorial: Persistent Push and Pitiless Publicity,” The Numismatist, January 1917, p. 26.
16. Thomas L. Elder, “Collecting: With Special Reference to Coins, Medals and Paper Money,” The Numismatist, December 1916, p. 541.
17. “A Bibliography of Virginia, Part 1,” Bulletin of the Virginia State Library, vol. 8 no. 2 (April 1915), p. 87.
18. H.D. Allen, “Confederacy Borrows Design for Note,” The Numismatist, August, 1916, p. 346. Bradbeer’s work was in such demand and in such short supply that it was reprinted twice: in 1945 by Ruth/C.E. Green and in 1956 by Aubrey Bebee, a fact so nonpareil that recent author Jerry Wayne Hilton acknowledged these unprecedented hobby events in his fine Collecting Confederate Currency Hobby or and Investment. Volume One: Criswell Types 1-4 ‘The Magnificent Montgomerys’ (see supra) as the “First Hard-Bound Reprint of a Major Confederate Currency Publication” (p. 68), and the “First Reprint of a Reprint of a Major Confederate Currency Publication” (p. 80). Of course, as we know from earlier chapters of this present series, the first reprint of a major CSA paper money publication was likely the known soft cover reprint of John Haseltine’s soft cover Rebel note catalog by parties unknown at an uncertain time. A print-on-demand modern reprint of the work is widely available online today. In another way, the truth of Allen’s prediction is interestingly borne out by Texas Confederate paper money researcher and dealer W. Crutchfield Williams, who confided, “I still use B#s (Bradbeer) instead of Cr#s (Criswell) when I list notes for sale.” Crutch Williams to Kevin Lowther, Dec. 22, 2011. Still the general lack of awareness of Allen’s work among collectors today was lamented recently by editor Wayne Homren of the bibliomaniac newsletter E-Sylum. “[I]t’s a shame his great work was not published as a separate book back in his day,” Homren wrote, “he would probably be much better known among numismatists today.” Wayne Homren, “H.D. Allen’s Confederate Currency Research,” E-Sylum, Oct. 28, 2012. Blame it on the American Numismatic Association, which scotched collector requests for a reprint of the collected articles at the series’ end. ANA was more interested in selling back issues of its journal. You can read that story too in the Fricke-Reed book, amplified in the paragraphs above. Allen for his own part, however, also published some of his findings outside the numismatic community. His “A Mystery of the South,” in the Confederate Veteran recounted his Oldham-Elmore research; H.D. Allen, “A Mystery of the South,” Confederate Veteran, July 1916, pp. 330-331.
19. Luther Tuthill, “We All Have Our Hobbies,” The Numismatist, November and December 1915.
20. See Fred L. Reed III, “The Richest Man in Confederate Money,” Coins magazine, November 2009.
21. H.D. Allen’s contributions to the history of CSA note collecting were somewhat redeemed by the book the present author co-wrote with Pierre Fricke, History of Collecting Confederate States of America Paper Money, Volume 1, 1865-1945 published last year. We devoted seven pages to his important discoveries, research and the sale of his collection by William Hesslein. Additionally the book showed ads that Allen placed in periodicals offering rewards for salient information, and told how he put together displays of Confederate and obsolete notes for public commercial display.
22. H.D. Allen, “A Mystery of the South,” Confederate Veteran, July 1916, p. 330.
23. ibid.; H.D. Allen, “Broken Bank Bills Wanted,” The Numismatist, January 1920, p. 42.
24. Frank Duffield, “Man With the Numismatic Searchlight,” The Numismatist, February 1917, p. 59.
25. Also, the writer commended his contributor: “Mr. Clark has evinced lively interest in my work on the history of Confederate money and has now himself made a notable contribution to it, for which he deserves the thanks of collectors,” Allen wrote. H.D. Allen, “The $10.000 Bill of April 6th, 1863,” The Numismatist, September 1918, p. 366.
26. According to a standard reference work of the era, “in 1917 some one with an accumulation [of CSA notes] sold them on the streets of downtown New York at five cents a bill.” “Confederate Paper Money,” The Encyclopedia Americana, vol. 19, New York & Chicago: Encyclopedia Americana Corp., 1919, p. 353.
27. Frank Duffield, “No Reprints of Confederate Paper Money Articles,” The Numismatist, May 1919, p. 203.
28. Duffield, “No Reprints . . .”, p. 203; Frank Duffield, “Price of Back Numbers of The Numismatist to be Increased,” The Numismatist, November 1919, p. 451.
29. Notes on Confederate Paper Money,” The Numismatist, November, 1919, p. 459.
30. “I bought this cover recently, by the way, at a local Springfield, VA stamp show. It was one of those curious items which, like the puppy in the window, almost begged to be taken home.” Kevin Lowther to the author, Dec.. 22, 2011.
31. Kevin Lowther to Crutch Williams and others, Dec. 22, 2011.
32. Fred Reed to Kevin Lowther, Dec. 22, 2011.
33. Kevin Lowther to the author, Dec. 22, 2011.
34. Kevin Lowther to Richard Doty, Jan. 9, 2012; Richard Doty to Kevin Lowther, Jan. 9, 2012.
35. Kevin Lowther to the author, Jan. 30, 2012.
36. Kevin Lowther to the author March 12, 2012.
37. Kevin Lowther, “Good, Hard Confederate Cash” draft.
38. Ibid; Wilson and fellow attorney Temple Bodley of Louisville published the two-volume History of Kentucky, the Bluegrass State in 1927-8; Temple Bodley and Samuel M. Wilson, History of Kentucky, the Bluegrass State, Chicago: S.J. Clarke Publishing Co., 1927-8. According to worldcat Bodley was the primary author of the first volume and Wilson of the second volume.
39. “Confirmations by the Senate,” New York Times, Jan. 23, 1867.
40. United States Civil Service Commission, Official Register of the United States, vol. 1, Washington: Government Printing Office, 1883, p. 84.
41. United States Civil Service Commission, Official Register of the United States, vol. 1, Washington: Government Printing Office, 1885, p. 83.
42. United States Civil Service Commission, Official Register of the United States, vol. 1, Washington: Government Printing Office, 1887, p. 14; United States Civil Service Commission, Official Register of the United States, vol. 1, Washington: Government Printing Office, 1893, p. 74.
44. “A Concise Historiography of Kentucky,” http://jkhg.org/historiography.htm.
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