see it clearly
Learn more

Confederate coin and silver coins, New Orleans mint

It has been said and repeated as a historical fact that the Southern Confederacy had no metallic currency. After a lapse of eighteen years the following official document from the Confederate archives explains itself, and substantiates the fact that silver to a limited extent was coined at the New Orleans Mint by order of the Confederate Government, in the early days of the rebellion, and only suspended operations on account of the difficulty in obtaining bullion for coinage.

Rare early coins of the U.S. mint

WAR DEPARTMENT,
ADJUTANT GENERAL'S OFFICE,
WASHINGTON, March 27, 1879.

DR. B.F. TAYLOR,
New Orleans, La.

DEAR SIR:--The enclosed circular will explain to you the nature of the duties upon which I am now engaged; I would like to have from you, from file with confederate archives, a letter stating when you were appointed Chief Coiner of the Confederate States Mint, instructions received copies of the originals of any official papers, sketches, descriptions, etc.' of all the coins made, etc. This will make a valuable addition to Confederate history, and I know no one but you can give it.

Very truly yours,

MARCUS J. WRIGHT.

NEW ORLEANS, LA, April 7, 1879.

To HON. MARCUS J. WRIGHT.

DEAR SIR:--Your favor requesting a statement of the history of the New Orleans Mint, in reference to the coinage under the Confederate Government, is received. That institution was turned over by the State of Louisiana, the last of February, 1861, to the Confederate States of America, the old officers being retained and confirmed by the government, viz.: Wm. A. Elmore, Superintendent; A. J. Guyrot, Treasurer; M. F. Bonzano, M. D., Melter and Refiner; and Howard Millspaugh, Assayer. In the month of April, orders were issued by Mr. Memminger, Secretary of the Treasury, to the effect that designs for half-dollars should be submitted to him for approval. Among several sent, the one approved bore on the obverse of the coin a representation of the Goddess of Liberty, surrounded by thirteen stars, denoting the thirteen States from whence the Confederacy sprung, and on the lower rim the figures, 1861. On the reverse there is a shield with seven stars, representing the seceding States; above the shield is a liberty-cap, and entwined around it stalks of sugar cane and cotton, "Confederate State of America." The dies were engraved by A. H. M. Peterson, Engraver and Die Sinker, who is now living in Commercial Place. They were prepared for the coining press by Conrad Schmidt, foreman of the coining room (who is still living), from which four pieces only were struck. About this period an order came from the secretary suspending operations on account of the difficulty of obtaining bullion, and the Mint was closed April 30, 1861.Of the four pieces mentioned, one was sent to the Government, one presented to Prof. Biddle, of the University of Louisiana, one sent to Dr. E Ames of New Orleans, the remaining one being retained by myself Upon diligent inquiry I am unable to find but one piece besides my own that being in the possession of a Confederate officer of this city, who transmitted it to his son as a souvenir of his father's in the Confederate cause.

So soon as copies are made I will take pleasure in sending you a specimen for the archives you represent.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,

B. F. TAYLOR, M. D.
Formerly Chief Coiner C.S.A.

The most notable and valuable silver coin is the dollar of 1804. It is said that the scarcity of this dollar was owing to the sinking of a China-bound vessel having on board almost the entire mintage of the 1804 dollars in lieu of the Spanish milled dollars. It is believed that there are not more than seven possibly eight, genuine 1804 dollars extant. The rarity of the piece and the almost fabulous prices offered for it are patent facts.