Newly Discovered Thian Master Album of Confederate Currency Could Bring $60K+ in Upcoming Stack’s Bowers Auction

A newly discovered 109-year-old Confederate Currency album could bring more than $60,000 in the Stack’s Bowers Galleries Official Currency Auction of the Whitman Coin & Collectibles Winter Expo this November in Baltimore, Maryland.

The album, titled “The Currency of the Confederate States,” was assembled by early Confederate Currency researcher and author Rafael Prosper Thian. Thian worked for decades in the Adjutant General’s Office of the United States Army from the middle years of the Civil War until his death in 1911. During that time he had nearly unrestricted access to the “Rebel Archives” confiscated from Richmond in 1865. He used that access to do some of the earliest research into Confederate Currency and to publish a number of publications detailing the history of the Confederate Treasury Department. Among those publications is the oft-cited “Register of the Confederate Debt.” Also during that time Thian produced several albums demonstrating the different types of currency produced by the Confederacy. Some of those albums displayed just a single note for each type. Others, known now as Master Albums, displayed various plate varieties and watermarks that Thian identified during his research. It is believed that fewer than ten of these Master Albums were ever produced and today only around six are known with at least half of those in permanent government or institutional collections.

The album contains over 425 pages including a preface with a description of contents and a history of the various acts for each issue. One of the inner leafs is inscribed in Thian’s hand “Presented to Mr. Charles D. Edmonton, with the kindest regards and best wishes of R. P. Thian September 8, 1906.”

Enclosed within the album are 287 examples of Confederate currency. Six of those examples are period sepia photographs of types 1 through 6. There are 275 actual Confederate Treasury notes and six examples of the Chemicographic back impressions originally intended for the 1864 issues. Pages are letter-pressed with a note number assigned by him to each variety rather than individual type along with plate or variety info for that note. One of the notes found in the album is a new to the census T-35 1861 $5 “Indian Princess” note.

Each note is mounted one per page using a period adhesive in each corner tip. It is our understanding that this adhesive can be neutralized to remove the notes if so desired. However it is the wish of both the consignor and the firm that this historical relic and its contents be preserved for future generations in its intended form.

The album is completely new to the market and represents a miracle of survival.  A family member of the consignor received the album as a reward for finding a neighbor’s ring in the early 1950s. Since that time it had resided, forgotten, in a basement in the Carolinas. Earlier this year the album was noticed by the consignor and picked from a trash pile as the family was cleaning out the basement and thus was saved from being lost.

The pages and the notes within are preserved in basically the same condition as they were when the album was assembled. The front cover and a few inner leaf pages have detached along with the spine of the book. All but the spine are present and could be reattached by an expert book restorer.



September 16th was the consignment deadline for the November currency auction and our Stack’s Bowers Galleries currency staff is hard at work producing the catalog for that auction now. It is expected to ship in mid-October. Stack’s Bowers is currently accepting consignments for our 2016 auction events. To consign please contact one of our consignment directors today at 1-800-458-4646. For currency related questions please contact Peter Treglia at [email protected] or Brad Ciociola at [email protected]

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