Baton Passes to Thian, Bradbeer|
September 04, 2013
Today, Confederate Paper Money collectors hold Raphael P. Thian in the highest of regards. Specialists pour over the reprint edition of his Register of the Confederate Debt, and originals of that rare book sell for the tens of thousands of dollars. Thian’s Register is frequently mentioned on lists of “rarest” or “most important” numismatic works, and when a new example is discovered it rates a front-page story on the cover of Bank Note Reporter.(1)
However, Thian died in relative obscurity in late 1911. When he did so, most of his personal Confederate volumes came into the possession of his younger son, Prosper E. Thian, although at least one of the volumes also went to his eldest son Louis R. Thian and several others to his granddaughters (Prosper Thian’s girls. See especially Parts 79, 80 and 82. Additional details will appear in a forthcoming column.) To me this smacks of a “choosing lots” situation, and not an actual bequest by a parent to multiple offspring. Several decades later as the children also aged, they sought to sell the volumes of notes that had been put together by their father from government resources.
Prosper Thian, especially, sought to sell off his father’s notes to best financial advantage. He contacted cataloger Philip Chase, Duke University in Durham, N.C., and other parties he thought likely to be interested in such materials. Chase who was in the process of writing his own Confederate note catalog to follow up on his 1936 pamphlet was a particularly astute choice for Thian. Why he wrote Duke is less apparent. Correspondence between Thian and Chase and Thian and Duke University still exist showing the buyers to be eager for the best notes, i.e., the Montgomerys and the other recognized rarities, but the seller to be extremely wary as the parties thrusted and parried over his inheritance.
Some of this material eventually came into possession of the Smithsonian Institution. According to the recently departed Smithsonian Numismatic Curator Dr. Richard Doty,(2) who was a friend and colleague for nearly 40 years: “We have the two volumes (of Thian notes), plus correspondence between Thian’s son, P.E. Thian, and Philip Chase, mostly letters from Thian. Thian was selling Chase notes from time to time. All of this correspondence takes place during mid-February through early July 1945.
“Chase was apparently trying to get Thian to sell him Thian’s Montgomery notes, and Thian wasn’t having any of it. But Chase offered to purchase Raphael P. Thian’s two volumes of CSA notes, and this offer was accepted on July 5, 1945. The actual amount has been excised, however. The last bit of correspondence is from Philip Chase to Val (Vladimir) Clain-Stefanelli, November 26, 1962, referring to ‘my Thian album on loan to the Smithsonian’; with this letter, Chase sent the letters and carbon copies I mentioned above. The Thian books DO NOT [emphasis in the original] contain any of the Montgomery notes,” Doty added. Eventually Chase donated Confederate materials to the Smithsonian at a later period.
“The Confederated [sic], i.e. Confederate, group grew through transfers from the Library of Congress, and especially through gifts from Mr. Philip Chase, a well-known researcher and collector of this field,” co-curator Elvira Clain-Stefanelli, wife and colleague of Vladimiar Clain-Stefanni, reported. “In 1963 we received from Mr. Chase the personal album of an earlier researcher of Confederate currencies, Raphael P. Thian, entitled The Currency of the Confederate States.(3)
A great deal more of the Thian material went to Duke University, as is well known in the hobby. “As the AGO’s chief clerk, Thian had to spend many hours sifting through notes and documents to find what was needed. To aid him in his own researches for his Register of the Confederate Debt he made up two scrapbooks of bonds and four books of notes for his personal use. These are happily now on deposit with the Duke University Library, which purchased them from Thian’s son in 1944,” according to Dr. Douglas Ball.(4)
Apparently Ball was unaware that Chase had also purchased currency albums from Thian. Although the Thian materials at Duke have been well known in the hobby for several decades now, the best description in the literature regarding these rare materials was provided by CSA note researcher George Tremmel writing in the Society of Paper Money Collectors, Paper Money’s November/December 2002 issue.(5)
“While the Confederate Treasury hoard provided Thian with the Confederate currency for the albums he compiled for his research, these notes also were the source material for other albums he prepared. At the request of government agencies and patriotic organizations, Thian prepared a number of albums for presentation to selected recipients, such as visiting dignitaries and retiring Army generals. These presentation albums are now highly prized by collectors whenever they become available,” Tremmel wrote.
According to that source, in late October 1944, the Duke History Department was contacted by Prosper E. Thian, “who initially offered to sell some of the notes in his father’s collection. Apparently at this time, many years after his father’s death in 1911, the younger Thian was slowly sorting through his father’s possessions.”
Thian’s letter came to Duke University history professor Robert H. Woody (1903-1985), who served as director of the George Washington Flowers Memorial Collection of Southern Americana, according to Tremmel. Robert Hilliard Woody was a distinguished professor of Southern history. He earned M.A. and Ph.D. degrees from Duke University, the latter in 1930, and his dissertation was published in 1932 as South Carolina During Reconstruction, co-authored with his mentor Francis Butler Simkins.
His career teaching at Duke had commenced in 1929 and continued through 1937, when he reduced his teaching load so he could also serve as director of the Flowers Collection at the university. He continued at this post through 1970. Woody was an accomplished writer on Southern subjects, and a model overseer of student projects. According to Duke, he oversaw 32 doctoral dissertations, and “at least” 58 masters theses.(6)
When the junior Thian’s letter fell into his hands, Dr. Woody replied, asking naturally if Prosper was related to Raphael Thian, Tremmel noted. In a second letter dated Nov. 7, 1944, Prosper replied affirmatively, and offered to sell one of his father’s albums. Tremmel continues: “He described the largest album to Dr. Woody and mentioned his desire that it find a good home. I am the son of Raphael P. Thian long since deceased, whom you mention in your letter.
“’I also have an album containing samples arranged by series, designs and years of all the notes issued by the Confederate Treasury. This is a very complete, if not the most complete set of Confederate notes in existence, covering the issues from $0.50 to $1,000. This work deserves a place in some such institute as yours. The amount of work involved in collecting and arranging this very large number of notes, covered his leisure time & holidays, nights & Sundays for over 30 years. A life long hobby of his. (signed) P.E. Thian”(7)
During the next half year, Prosper Thian offered additional materials to the institution. “By late April 1945, the five albums compiled by Raphael Thian for his personal study, as well as other books and papers, were finally in the possession of the University,” Tremmel continued. As with the materials acquired by Chase which eventually landed in the National Numismatic Collection, the Thian materials at Duke also lack examples of the rare early Montgomery and Richmond issues.
However, Tremmel feels “in terms of the variety and quality of its contents, it is unique. Despite Prosper Thian’s above claim, however, that the collection included the $1,000 note, it is not there today.” Whether it was in the past or not in unknown.
“Thian could carefully choose from the entire hoard of captured notes and bonds,” Tremmel observed, thus “the high quality specimens he selected portrayed a wide range of the major and minor note varieties within Confederate note types. The albums present examples of more than 380 individual note signatures, sheets of currency, watermark differences, contemporaneous counterfeits and rare and odd varieties.”
According to an inventory that Tremmel conducted in 1998 five albums contain 3,224 pieces of currency and 458 bonds issued by the Confederacy, Southern states and local governments. Additionally, the albums contain 294 notes issued by private banks, insurance companies and railroads.(8)
Dr. Richard Cecil Todd was only the first of a pilgrimage of successive CSA currency researchers, including Tremmel, an expert on counterfeit Rebel notes, to make use of the Thian materials at Duke. “The importance of his collection as a research source is significant and is clearly reflected in the details of today’s Confederate currency catalogs and reference books,” Tremmel affirmed. The Thian materials are presently located in the Perkins Library’s Special Collections Library.
In his article in Paper Money Tremmel summarizes the contents of the five Thian albums: Book 768: Obsolete Bank Notes, Miscellaneous Bank Notes 1838-1864, 200 pages. Contents: 200 notes, most of which are prewar or early war years.
Book 769: CSA Note Index (Working Album), Confederate Notes with Descriptions of Emblems 1861-64, 145 pages. Contents: 159 notes; 104 genuine, 55 counterfeit. This album contains the extremely rare CT-35 Indian Princess counterfeit. In the back of this album are Thian’s tables summarizing quantities, series and dates of the various CSA issues. This information was probably compiled in preparation of the data presented in his Register of the Confederate Debt.
Book 770: Confederate Notes & Bonds (Master Album), Notes and Bonds 1861-1865, 646 pages. Contents: 2,889 CSA notes, 88 state and local notes, six private issues and 171 bonds, stocks and miscellaneous material. This huge album has sections on counterfeits, note sheets, autographs of note signers, bonds, stocks and checks, oddities, etc.
Book 771: CSA Treasury Bonds 1861-1864, 216 pages. Contents: 287 Confederate and Southern State bonds, stock certificates and checks.
Unnumbered Portfolio: CSA Note Signers, Male and Female Signatures, 23 pages. Contents: 176 notes that present autograph specimens of the Treasury note signers.(9)
In 1944 Louisiana State University Press published posthumously University of Texas Professor Charles W. Ramsdell’s (April 4, 1877-July 3, 1942) breakthrough volume presenting the context in which the CSA notes were issued, used and depreciated in his Behind the Lines in the Southern Confederacy. Ramsdell(10) examined the home front away from the battlefield, and foreshadowing the work of Dr. Douglas Ball found that the internal economic weaknesses doomed the ability of the Confederacy to wage its war of separation from the Union successfully. Ramsdell’s book culminated his decades of scholarly publication on non-military aspects of Southern life in scholarly journals. Today more than 65 years later, his cogent arguments mark his book as a classic that has been frequently reissued to keep it in print.
Imitation is Sincerest Flattery
The acceptance and success of Bradbeer’s book with the collecting community was pervasive. Because the field continued to grow, 30 years after it was first issued, it had become almost impossible to find a copy, so it was reprinted in a very large edition by Chicago dealer R. Green (1945, 1,000 copies). “R. Green” was Chicago dealer Charles Elmore Green’s wife Ruth Scrivner Green, under whose first initial he conducted his business pseudo-nonymously for many years. Bradbeer, himself, about whom we wrote here extensively in Chapter 96, is something of a cypher. Born in Coburg, Canada on June 22, 1855, he was married and had three children before dying in Chicago on June 20, 1927, just two days short of his 72nd birthday. Aside from his monumental 1915 opus published on the 50th anniversary of the war’s end, 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, Bradbeer did not leave a heavy footprint on the hobby.
I can’t prove the next contention, but I have always felt that Charles E. Green pirated Bradbeer’s book. This will not be a popular contention, nor make this writer any friends in the numismatic hobby today, especially in this day and age of indiscriminately reproducing and distributing copies of in-copyright works, but I have long felt that those who badmouth Grover Criswell for ripping off the Bradbeer system - and there are many who do - do a particular injustice to the history of CSA note collecting.(11)
I’ll explain. Under the terms of the copyright act of Feb. 3, 1831, the first term of copyright for an original work such as Bradbeer’s book was fixed at 28 years from date of publication, with the privilege of renewal for another 14 years. The Act of July 1, 1909, extended the renewal period from 14 to 28 additional years.(12) This meant that Bradbeer’s book came due for copyright renewal in 1943, and the copyright owner could renew it for another 28 years, i.e., until 1971. However, with Bradbeer long dead, his copyright to his CSA book was allowed to expire in 1943. Bradbeer’s wife Lydia Jane Corbett had predeceased him, passing away March 16, 1916, at Mt. Vernon, N.Y. His legatees, Helen born in 1888, Evelyn born in 1889 and Myron West Bradbeer born in 1893 (all three of whom were still living), failed to renew his copyright, so Bradbeer’s book became available in the public domain at that time.
Enter Charlie Green, no flies on him. He cobbled together a reprint edition to fill the void in the marketplace that had developed by the insufficiency of the original Bradbeer print run and the expanding Rebel note-collecting universe.
Green (April 7, 1894-Dec. 21, 1955) had been a coin dealer for about a decade in Chicago by then. He became an early contributor to the Red Book. A member of the Chicago Coin Club, he would continue in business for another decade until his own death in 1955. In 1936, prior to throwing out his shingle as a retail coin dealer, Green had published a booklet Mint Records of U.S. Coins 1793-1931, Inclusive “which Louis Eliasberg used as a checklist to keep track of his collection,” according to bibliomaniac David Stone, writing in The E-Sylum.(13)
The Green reprint is greatly expanded. It is also quite interesting to the bibliophile, in addition to the CSA note collector. In his foreword to the reprint edition, Green describes his fruitless quest for a copy of the Bradbeer original until finally securing one at the princely sum of $35. Feeling that the available copies were too expensive and too far in between, he set out to reprint a revision of the Bradbeer text.
The reprint volume was truly collaborative. After grabbing Bradbeer’s text, Green solicited and secured permission to reprint the H.D. Allen articles from The Numismatist, and from D.C. Wismer to reprint his work on Texas treasury notes, also from the ANA magazine. He also added Rudolph Kohler’s information on additional Virginia and Louisiana notes. ANA governor, later president, Lloyd B. Gettys, considered an expert on large-size U.S. type notes, supplied illustrations of Confederate notes, and flamboyant Texas dealer B. Max Mehl, also a Chicago Coin Club member, offered Texas note illustrations.
However, for all its glitz and sizzle, the steak at this repast and clearly its raison d’etre was Bradbeer’s catalog, plain and simple. Collectors were much indebted to Green for bringing out the cheap reprint and packing it with the Allen materials, giving that extensive resource “legs” to reach more collectors. With the availability of his new inexpensive and expanded version of the standard Bradbeer text, Green opined rightly if imprecisely that new interest would be focused on the notes cataloged. “I feel certain the interest in this series of paper money will increase a hundredfold in the coming five years as a result of giving the collectors a standard reference within the price range of all,” Green said.
To be continued…
More on Hatch & Co.
Missouri reader Bruce Smith raises an interesting point regarding the recent column on George W. Hatch Sr. and George W. Hatch Jr. (see BNR, April, 2013). “I read your latest installment in Bank Note Reporter on George W. Hatch Sr. and Jr. with interest. Do you know whether they were related to Lorenzo James Hatch (1857-1914), an engraver in New York and Washington, DC, who with William Grant, set up the Chinese Bureau of Engraving and Printing around 1910? It would seem strange if they were not related.”(14)
Hatch engraved the portraits of Grant and Sheridan on the back of the Series 1896 $5 Silver Certificate Educational Note. I too, have often wondered about a connection since one of my most favorite Lincoln items is an autographed, large die “first proof” of a facing Lincoln portrait that Lorenzo Hatch engraved c. 1890 that I displayed extensively in the 1990s when I was campaigning for the use of this intimate so-called “Gettysburg Lincoln” portrait (Ostendorf-77) on the new series $5 Federal Reserve Notes introduced with the larger off-center portraits.
So I put this question to two experts in the engraving field Gene Hessler and Mark Tomasko. Both replied succinctly. Hessler wrote, “I have made attempts to see if they are related, but so far I have found no proof.” Tomasko responded, “To my knowledge they are not related. I have never seen any suggestion that they are.”(15)
The Lorenzo James Hatch and Hatch family papers, 1902-1937, were digitized in 2010 by the Smithsonian Institution’s Archives of American Art (www.aaa.si.edu.) These are accessible online, but searches for “George Hatch” and “Hatch, George” turned up no results. Maybe a reader has insights not yet known to the four of us. We’d all be pleased, I’m sure, to hear from any reader with additional information on this subject.
Even More on Hatch & Co.
Frequent contributor Karl Kabelac also wrote me after my column on Hatch & Co.’s activities appeared in these pages (see Part 94). A retired reference librarian Karl has often proved to be a good friend to this column and columnist researching areas of his expertise.
This time Karl provided additional information on an obscure and very desirable catalog printed and issued by Hatch & Co. during the Civil War era. This specimen catalog was titled Specimens of vignettes, ornamental end pieces, borders, medallions, and titles &c. for bonds, certificates of stock & deposit, drafts, bills of exchange, notes, checks, bills of lading, bill heads, labels &c. that Karl traced to the Brown University Library in Providence, R.I.(16)
This is exciting news. According to my prior published research, “this Hatch catalog is listed on books.google.com but no example could be found. It is also listed in WorldCat with the notation ‘Sorry, no libraries with the specified item were found.’” (see Part 94, end note 43.) Karl’s reference described this work as 21 by 30 cm, with 66 leaves, and a cover title of Specimens of Lithography.
Furthermore, an additional example is located at the Newberry Library in Chicago,(17) in which the example is described as 22 by 32 cm with 167 numbered leaves, “many of the leaves blank.” And yet a third example is located at the American Antiquarian Society in Worcester, Mass., described as “16mo and oblong” and having 67 pages.(18)
I took a research trip to Providence, R.I., where Brown University is located, a couple years ago when the ANA convention was in nearby Boston under a grant from the Society of Paper Money Collectors to research the Samuel Gault papers at the Providence Historical Society. I also researched collections of the Newport Historical Society, the Providence Public Library, and the McClellan-Hay Lincoln Collection at Brown University’s John Hay Library. Too bad I didn’t know about this rare Hatch & Co. catalog when I was in that lovely city in 2010. Perhaps a reader(s) in one or another of those locations will visit this rare catalog and report back to us additional details on this treasure. Thanks Karl, for this information.
More on RWH & E
I never fail to be amazed by the generosity of my various readers in sharing additional information with me and this column, or what sparks their interests. Herr Kabelac also provided additional information on a rare 1858 publication of Rawdon, Wright, Hatch & Edson prior to their subsumation within the American Bank Note Co. later that year.
In Part 94, I also mentioned the catalog A New Security for protecting bank notes from alterations and photographic counterfeits by the use of the patent green tint conjointly with black carbon ink, as printed by Rawdon, Wright, Hatch & Edson, bank note engravers, New-York. According to my research, “The only collections shown possessing this rare title are the New-York Historical Society and Yale University libraries. (see Part 94, end note 22.) However, Karl has also found a copy at the American Antiquarian Society mentioned above.(19) It is described as 23 cm with 20 pages and one leaf of plates “issued in printed, decorated green wrappers; text block within border.” A separate entry lists a microform copy of this work.(20)
The Yale University Library’s Orbis Catalog provides this information: “Location: SML [Sterling Memorial Library], Microform (Non-Circulating); Call Number: Film B10601; Status: Not Checked Out; Notes: Negative film available for reproduction. Filmed with other titles. To view other titles, search by call number B10601.” Further information provided states that it is a 35mm reel, reproduced in 1992.(21)
Searching on the call number pulled up an eclectic mix listing 48 additional publications ranging from early U.S. Congressional Acts, to lectures on the “Historic Jesus,” to a history of the piano, to Chinese and other foreign language works, to an 1897 Papers in Reference to Bank Note Contract printed by order of the Canadian Parliament, to modern imprints of the University of Chicago Press.(22) However, this unfortunately does not inform us whose copy of the RWH&E catalog was imaged.
More on U.S. Treasury Confederate Note Gifts
New Hampshire dealer David Sundman is a Bank Note Reporter reader, as we might expect. I got a very nice note from him recently with some exciting new information that I’d like to share with other readers of this column.
“Hi Fred,” he wrote, “I’ve been following your series of articles in your ‘Shades of the Blue & Grey’ column in Bank Note Reporter, and in particular Part 95 ‘Treasury OKs CSA note sales, gifts’ on pages 74-90 of the May 2013 issue. In that article you mention the donations by the Treasury to various institutions in the 1912-13 time frame. Attached is an earlier letter of conveyance from the U.S. Treasury dated May 11, 1876, to Marshall P. Wilder of the New England Historic Genealogical Society, which accompanied a collection the Treasury Department donated to the Society.(23)
“Littleton Coin purchased a remainder portion of this collection several years ago and I attach a few photos I took at the time. There were several hundred notes and a quantity of bonds. Best regards, David M. Sundman, President Littleton Coin Co., LLC.”
This very exciting (to me at least) letter along with the other pictures the writer mentioned are illustrated here courtesy of David Sundman. It is signed by Chas. F. Conant, Acting Secretary, and written on Treasury Department letterhead. “I transmit herewith a set of the various issues and denominations of Confederate paper money, and bonds, as complete as can be selected from the collection is possession of the Department,” Conant wrote.
Charles Francis Conant (1835-1886) was a career U.S. Treasury employee, serving in the administrations of Presidents Andrew Johnson, U.S. Grant, and Rutherford B. Hayes. Conant had been appointed to a clerkship in the U.S. War Department in 1863 after his military service had been curtailed by illness. He served there until 1865 when he accepted a Treasury Department position. After several promotions, he became the chief of the Division of Estimates, Warrants, and Appropriations, meaning he was responsible for completing the department’s monthly debt statement.(24)
When Treasury Secretary Benjamin Helm Bristow sent Conant’s name forward to President U.S. Grant on appointment as his assistant, Bristow wrote, “He is thoroughly conversant with all its workings and is a man of some breath of intellect and force of character. His integrity, I think, is beyond question, and this to me is of most consequence.”(25)
Consequently, “In July 1874, he was appointed Assistant Secretary of the Treasury, being the first man to rise to the position after having served a clerkship. This fact is significant, for it reflected changing attitudes in civil service. Reformers supported a more professional approach to staffing government offices,” according to historians at the Rutherford B. Hayes Presidential Center in Fremont, OH. (26)
“While not a traditional political appointment, Conant’s placement was upon the recommendation of future President James Garfield, with whom he had developed a close friendship while Garfield was chairman of the House Appropriations Committee,” the account continues. “His appointment was viewed favorably by the press and civil service reformers. While he was assistant secretary, Conant also often served as acting secretary during the illness of Secretary Benjamin Bristow, attending Cabinet meetings and completing other duties in Bristow’s absence,” it adds.
It was during just one of these interim periods that Acting U.S. Treasury Secretary Chas. F. Conant wrote to Bostonian Marshall P. Wilder. Col. Marshall Pinckney Wilder (1848-1866) of Dorchester, Mass. was a member of the Massachusetts Board of Agriculture, and supporter of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He was also a member, and longtime president of the New England Historic Genealogical Society, founded in 1845.
He was the NEHGS president at the time he importuned Conant for the representative CSA currency and bond gift. At his death a colleague said, “We cannot but admire the diligence and breadth of his self-culture.”(27) Conant responded affirmatively and forwarded the trove of CSA notes and bonds. This probably was not a case of the mouse playing while the cat’s away. We note that the missive was signed-off on by three other Treasury officials.
After the war, Southerners charged Conant with enriching himself from interest on proceeds of Southern cotton captured during the war, but nothing came of it. Assistant Treasury Secretary Conant served the U.S. as its funding agent for the sale of bonds to the Rothchild interests in Europe for three years 1877-1879. His correspondence with Treasury Secretary John Sherman was published as Specie Resumption and Refunding of the National Debt.
The Rutherford B. Hayes Presidential Center, Spiegel Grove, Fremont, Ohio owns the papers of Charles F. Conant, including “Most significant of the collected papers are eight letter press books containing copies of Conant’s outgoing correspondence for the period of 1870 to 1886 and approximately 500 letters Conant received from business and political colleagues between 1869 and 1885.” (28)
Sundman’s letter to Wilder is smack in the middle of that period, so presumably its mate is contained therein. It would be interesting to this writer and presumably other CSA paper money collectors and researchers to find out if Conant made a habit of distributing “worthless” Rebel notes from the U.S. Treasury cache in this manner, or whether this was a singular occasion.(29) The U.S. Treasury cache of Rebel notes was a very large one, larger than the more famous “Richmond Hoard” at the War Department. If was eventually burned to keep it out circulation by potential defrauders. We covered that story in Part 97.
A search of the Conant correspondence would also shed light on just what periods he served as Acting Treasury Secretary since a website, www.worldstatesmen.org, claims that Conant only served as Acting Secretary June 21, 1876 to June 30, 1876, during a brief absence of Secretary Bristow.(30) Conant’s May 11, 1876, letter is outside this window, but it is apparent that these transitions were frequent.(31)
More on Louis Prang
Occasionally my good fortune astounds me. Several months ago, I wrote a column (Part 92) here about Boston lithographer Louis Prang, who circulated “checks” and other merchants scrip during the small change crisis of the Civil War period. I was visiting my son and daughter-in-law over the holidays earlier this year when I wrote that column. In doing my research there, I discovered a “key” to Prang’s patriotic issues depicting many Union generals and other high-ranking officers.
A BNR reader, Mike Griffeth, contributed the identify of one of the anonymous and oft-mislabeled ladies that also grace Prang’s Civil War scrip issues. (See Part 97.) Although George McClellan’s wife wasn’t on the “key” that I had found earlier, reader Griffeth had found a labeled, engraved CDV with the same Prang portrait as on a John Bohler five-cent note, with the title “Mrs. McClellan,” Nellie, a real catch of a mate for the losing (to A. Lincoln) 1864 presidential aspirant George B. McClellan.
Well, as Yogi would say, here’s déjà vu all over again. Recently I was trolling eBay, one of my favorite pastimes, and discovered the pair of engraved Prang CDVs shown. Naturally I had to have them because they assist us in identifying a sweet damsel on a five-cent Vinson Blanchard Prang note, also shown.
There you have it. Mr. and Mrs. “Douglass” (sic). Stephen A. Douglas, of course was another Democrat loser in Abraham Lincoln’s other successful presidential campaign in 1860. Adele Cutts Douglas was Sen. Douglas’ much younger, second “trophy wife.” Addie, as she was called, was the grandniece of First Lady Dolley Madison.
A famed Washington beauty in her day, and half the age of the Illinois Senator, the chestnut-tressed beauty Addie was reputed to be a fashionable hostess, and able helpmate to the political figure in his campaigns against fellow Illinoisian Lincoln in 1858 and 1860.
What both Nellie McClellan and Addie Douglas shared, in addition to fine breeding, social class, and great beauty, was a big time rep in the social swirl of the wartime national capital, all attributes they shared with Kate Chase. Obviously Louis Prang and his merchants scrip customers had an eye for female pulchritude; I can’t wait for somebody to discover his engraving and scrip with Kate Chase’s portrait on it too.
When Stephen A. Douglas died in June 1861 leaving a 25-year-old widow, she went into extended mourning. After the war, she married a Union officer from Virginia, Robert Williams, who eventually became Adjutant General of the Army. Brig. Gen. Williams served as AG from July 5, 1892, to Nov. 5, 1893. So for 16 months he was Raphael Thian’s boss.
And so there you have it. We have come full Thian, err circle this time around.
1. See the present author’s “Now there are six: Rare Confederate Tome discovered,” Bank Note Reporter, October 2011, p. 1; that article won the 2012 Numismatic Literary Guild “Best Paper Money Article” in a numismatic newspaper at the Philadelphia ANA convention last year.
2. When I first met Dick Doty in the mid-1970s, we were both a great deal thinner and less grey, although both of us sported profuse facial hair even then. A former college professor, he was a newly minted curator at the American Numismatic Society and I was hired as a staff writer at Coin World. We kept in touch after my move to Probe Ministries and Beckett Publications, both of Dallas, and he went on to the Smithsonian Institution and the National Numismatic Collection in Washington, DC. In 1986, I traveled to the nation’s capital on a grant from the American Numismatic Society and researched at the Smithsonian, the National Archives and the Library of Congress. I was also there for the annual American Philatelic Society convention. Dick took almost a whole day assisting me with my research on Civil War money at the Smithsonian. When my encased stamp book came out in 1995, Dick wrote a nice blurb for the back cover. Over the years he has assisted this columnist with the present column and my other research on repeated occasions. Most recently, readers of this column will recall, Dick assisted us with our research on the Thian Registers and the Smithsonian’s accession of the Crofoot Fractional Currency materials, which added materially to our presentation here. But Dick helped me out in many other ways too, including supplying illustrations for my Lincoln books, and writing up the history of the Smithsonian’s Rebel Note hoard as an appendix to the book I co-wrote with Pierre Fricke on the history of CSA note collecting that was a spin-off of this column. Withal, Dick and I had lunch together several times, including at one of the recent ANA conventions at which he was speaking, and exchanged a great many emails on all kinds of subjects, including during the time (we now know) that he was gravely ill and on leave from the Smithsonian. He was a wonderful and very generous scholar, completely unpretentious, funny, a wonderfully engaging writer and a good friend. I think the thing that so distinguished Dick from other numismatic geniuses that I have met over the last half century was that he was persuadable. He did not think so highly of his own opinion that it became an idée fixe from which he could not turn. Try persuading a John J. Ford Jr. or a Dr. Douglas Ball of something they hadn’t already thought up…good luck. With Dick, discussions were an exploratory journey toward understanding. Not so with some others. I told my Whitman publisher Dennis Tucker that the blurb Dick wrote for my new Lincoln book’s cover was the nicest thing I can recall anybody ever saying about me or my work. I liked it so well that I put it at the top of my personal website’s home page. I can hardly fathom how fortunate I was to make such a friend as Dick so long ago, nor what I did to deserve his friendship over so long a period of time. We won’t see his likes soon or possibly ever again. Rest in Peace, good fellow. Rest in peace, dear friend.
3. Ibid. Another name collection that the Smithsonian National Numismatic Collection received “was an exceptional group of over 600 fractional notes issued to replace the metallic coinage which disappeared at the outbreak of the War Between the States. The collection was donated in 1971 by the widow of Herman K. Crofoot, from Moravia, N.Y., a well-known specialist of this period. This collection contained many rare proof and specimen notes, and a highly desirable ‘pink’ shield of mounted fractional notes,” Clain-Stefanelli continued; Elvira Clain-Stefanelli, “Donors and Donations: The Smithsonian’s National Numismatic Collection,” Chicago Coin Club Perspectives in Numismatics, http://www.chicagocoinclub.org/projects/PiN/dds.html. See especially the present author’s Parts 86, 88 in this Bank Note Reporter series, and his forthcoming 620-page Civil War Stamp Envelopes, the Issuers and Their Times, BNR Press in conjunction with enthusiast-media.com ltd, 2013.
4. Douglas B. Ball, “Foreword,” to Raphael P. Thian, Register of the Confederate Debt, Lincoln, Mass.: Quarterman Publications, Inc., 1972, p. viii. 5. This entire summary is adapted from George B. Tremmel, “The Raphael P. Thian Confederate Currency Collection,” Paper Money, November/December 2002, pp. 347-350. This seminal article is posted on the web at www.spmc.org and if you are a member you can access all past issue of the society’s journal Paper Money there.
6. Dr. Robert H. Woody’s most notable protégé became the greatest post-World War II scholar on Confederate Finance Richard Cecil Todd, author of the seminal work in this field, Confederate Finance, University of Georgia Press, 1954, about which much more will be written later: “Gratitude must be expressed first of all to Professor Robert H. Woody,” Todd wrote in the Preface to his book, “who suggested the need for this study as a doctoral dissertation and who was exceedingly considerate at all times in directing the research, offering criticism, and giving friendly encouragement.” Woody also served as a founding advisor to Scholars’ Facsimiles & Reprints, the oldest reprint publishing house in America. Robert H. Woody’s papers are contained in the University Archives of Duke University. According to a quick finding aid to the papers on the internet, Folders 250 and 251 contain items related to Richard Cecil Todd and his book Confederate Finance respectively, http://library.duke.edu/rubenstein/findingaids/uawoody.pdf.
7. Tremmel, op cit.
10. A Texas native, Dr. Charles William Ramsdell had been educated at the University of Texas, and earned his Ph.D. at Columbia University in 1910. His career teaching at UT in Austin covered three decades, during which he also served as president of the Missouri Valley Historical Association and the Southern Historical Association. He was a frequent journal contributor, and was preparing a multi-volume A History of the South when he died.
11. Criswell was only playing the game as it was already being played by those participating before him by Green and Aubrey Bebee a decade before he stepped to the table. All of them “stole” Bradbeer’s work, Criswell just had the unmitigated gall to put his own name on the resultant work, an unpardonable sin to many old line Confederate paper money collectors, and a distinction surely, even though the Criswell brothers—it should be noted - didn’t only borrow Bradbeer’s work. And Grover Criswell, in particular, became a prominent showman and pitchman for the hobby. Grover enlarged the field in a way Bradbeer didn’t, nor Green, nor Bebee. He became popular, a particularly irksome sin in the minds of some.
12. The United States was not a signatory to the international copyright agreement, the Berne Convention of 1886, that established a minimum copyright period of the author’s life plus 50 years until 1985 nearly a century after more enlightened, civilized nations of the Old World had created this valid protection of intellectual property.
13. David Stone, “Dr. John E. Wilkison of Sprinfield, Tennessee,” The E-Sylum, Oct. 16, 2011, http://www.coinbooks.org/esylum_v14n43a04.htm. After Charlie Green’s death, his wife continued to do mail-order business at Skokie, Ill. until 1959.
14. Bruce W. Smith to the author, April 2, 2013.
15. Gene Hessler to the author, April 3, 2010; Mark Tomasko to the author, April 3, 2013.
16. Karl Kabelac to the author April 1, 2013, OCLC Accession Number 22757527.
17. Ibid., OCLC Accession Number 61851820.
18. Ibid., OCLC Accession Number 191061373.
19. Ibid., Karl Kabelac to the author, April 1, 2013; OCLC Accession Number 84114956.
20. Regarding the Yale copy, Karl wrote: “…and of the third Yale, but only in microfilm. This puzzles me; did they microfilm their copy and then deaccession the original, or did they microfilm someone else’s????” Ibid.
23. David M. Sundman to the author, June 27, 2013.
24.Think, the national debt clock that is currently inexorably ticking toward the minus -$17 billion chasm. In his day Conant was the fella who wound that clock, so to speak, only the U.S. Treasury showed consistent annual surpluses in the decade following the Civil War of between $2.3 million in 1874 and $133 million in 1867. http://tinyurl.com/m4dneza.
27. Rev. Andrew P. Peabody, “Memorial Address on the late Marshall Pinckney Wilder, President of the New York Historic Genealogical Society,” http://archive.org/stream/memorialaddresso00peab#page/n7/mode/2up.
29. Readers will be reminded that we have several times addressed the duality of the U.S. government’s Confederate note holdings after the war. They should not be conflated. While the “Richmond Hoard” of redeemed and cancelled Confederate notes that Union soldiers captured at the fall of the Confederate capital is familiar to many readers and other collectors because of Thian’s association with it, and its late custodian Dr. Richard Doty’s attempts to popularize it as a resource for further researchers, the hoard at the U.S. Treasury is much less well known, but was far larger (I estimate 4-5 times larger) originally than the War Department holdings. This “silent” large trove had been captured at various times during the Rebellion by Union armies and forwarded to the Treasury Department where it was used clandestinely for the purchase of beef in Kentucky and the Trans-Mississippi region as subsistence for Union soldiers, and for “bribe” money to make Union prisoners’ lives more habitable in Southern prisons after being snuck to them by Union generals, principally Benjamin F. Butler, through midnight channels and southern accomplices.
30. “United States Government,’ http://www.worldstatesmen.org/USA_govt.html.
31. The list cited cannot be complete, as documents signed by Conant as Acting Secretary exist in both 1875 and 1877, before and after the June 1876 time frame. Heritage Auctions sold a U.S. Grant presidential appointment co-signed by Conant as Acting Secretary of the Treasury, dated September 30, 1875, at its sale of historical Manuscripts in Beverly Hills, Oct. 14-15, 2010, and Ira and Larry Goldberg’s Sale 24 sold some papers endorsed by Conant as Acting Secretary, dated March 2, 1877, regarding the presidential vote commission that resolved the disputed Hayes-Tilden election. Wikimedia shows a gold life saving medal that was accompanied by a letter of transmittal signed by Conant as Acting Secretary, dated Feb. 18, 1877.
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