What’s in a Name? Signatures on Confederate Currency

For Confederate currency collectors, the signatures of certain individuals on notes can be a big deal.

Collectors of Confederate currency collect notes in many different ways. Many collect by type, others by variety, and a number of collectors collect notes by signed endorsements found on many issues of Confederate notes. Among the most popular issues collected like this are the series of 1862 and 1863 dated $100 notes known as the “Train and Hoer Notes.”

These notes, types 39, 40 and 41 were interest-bearing notes that paid 7.3 percent interest to the bearer per annum. The first two notes, Type 39 and 40, feature a steam-powered passenger train at center and a milkmaid at left. Type 39 is differentiated by straight steam coming from the steam engine at center while the steam in Type 40 is diffused. Type 41 is a different design with slaves hoeing cotton in a field at center and the portrait of John C. Calhoun at left.

These notes were endorsed by many different Confederate military and civil agents at locations across the Confederacy. Many of the notes were paid out to soldiers and suppliers by quartermasters and assistant quartermasters for various units as well as other military agents. Others are endorsed by civil agents of the Confederate government such as officials within the Confederate Treasury Department in roles such as assistant treasurer, depositary and collector. Individuals who signed these notes often gave other information such as the date the note was issued or paid out by them, location they were issued from, or rank or position. Currently over 200 different Confederate military agents and over 25 different Confederate civil agents are known to be issuers of Train and Hoer notes.

Today there are many collectors of these notes and much research has been done to discover who issued these notes and shine light on their stories. Some issuers are desirable due to the popularity of the location they issued from, unit served in or officer served under. Some issuers are rather commonly encountered while others are quite rare. Some issuers are only known on a single note. Some notes have been found with signatures and endorsements of civilian individuals who were suppliers to the Confederate military or government, who signed the notes upon receipt of payment from quartermasters or civil agents.            

Two books have been published with information on these notes. The first, Confederate Issuers of Train and Hoer Notes, by Michael McNeil was published in 2010 and was the first official publication to list known issuers and provide background information on the individual signers. The 2014 edition of Collecting Confederate Paper Money by Pierre Fricke contains updated information compiled by McNeil and others with new additions to the list of known issuers and, for the first time, pricing and rarity information.

A society of dedicated collectors of these notes, known as the CSA Trainmen, continue to research and share new discoveries of these notes and have provided a wealth of information and insight into these notes.

The Stack’s Bowers Galleries Official Auction of the Whitman Coin & Collectibles Baltimore Expo has a nice selection of signed Train and Hoer notes featuring both military and civil agents. Among them is lot 329 is a T-39 Train note issued by Nathaniel O. Tilton, Captain and Assistant Quartermaster. Tilton was a member of the 25th Regiment of the Georgia Infantry (estimated at $450-$650). Lot 332 is a T-40 Train note issued by A.J. Guirot who was an Assistant Treasurer for the Confederate government and was once superintendent of the New Orleans Mint (estimated at $300-$500). Lot 338 is a very rare T-41 Hoer issued by Alex W. Vick, Major and Quartermaster to Brigadier General Henry Heth. This is one of only two notes currently known to be issued by Vick (estimated at $1500-$2500).

While most of the hand-issued notes bear the signatures of the issuer, some give only a date and location. An example of this is seen in lot 334, a T-40 Train note issued September 29, 1862, from Franklin, Louisiana. Perhaps fewer than a dozen examples are known from this location (estimated at $700-$100).

The Train and Hoer notes are not the only Confederate notes to be hand issued by military or civil agents. The very first Confederate notes from Montgomery and Richmond, T-1 through T-6, can also be found with these endorsements. While the average cost of these notes as a type makes it difficult for many people to collect by signed issuer, it is an interesting area for additional research. Offered in lot 308 is a T-5 1861 $100 note, the first of the Richmond issued notes. This example was issued by J.T. Winnemore, Major and Quartermaster at Augusta, Georgia and is estimated at $600-$800.

Collecting Confederate notes by issuer and location is a fun and rewarding venture and the field offers nearly unlimited opportunities for discovery and research. If you would like more information on this subject or have questions, feel free to drop a line to [email protected]. Live bidding for our Baltimore auction begins Thursday June 26 at 6:00 PM (Eastern Time).


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