Reed confirms sixth 'Thian'

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Published : 12/18/11
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The existence and whereabouts of a previously unknown sixth copy of Raphael P. Thian’s Register of the Confederate Debt has been confirmed.

Numismatic researcher Fred Reed said he found the sixth copy of the rare numismatic work during an Internet search of library collections.

Reed said the discovery “raises the likelihood that other, as yet unknown, original Thians also exist awaiting ‘discovery’ by numismatists.”

Reed said the sixth original Register is in the Rare Book Room at the Virginia Historical Society. The society purchased the book in 1958 as part of a large acquisition of historical works from the library of a prominent Richmond attorney, Lewis Catlett Williams.

Thian’s research was originally published in 1880 under the title Register of Issues of Confederate States Treasury Notes Together with Tabular Exhibits of the Debt, Funded and Unfunded of the Confederate States of America 1861-1865. The title of the 1972 reprint, Register of the Confederate Debt, is the more commonly used title today.

Collectors use the book to check the signature combinations and the serial numbers on their Confederate States of America notes against the list of known issues.

Thian was chief clerk of the adjutant general’s office of the United States, and had access to surviving Confederate Treasury archives, which were on file with the Department of War.

According to Reed, information published in the foreword to the 1972 reprint of Thian’s Register, by Confederate researcher Dr. Douglas Ball, led most collectors to believe there were only five original Registers. But Reed said he cannot find any written source where Ball listed the location or owners of the five originals. As part of his research Reed constructed and verified a census of the known original 1880 Registers existing in private and government collections.

Reed identified the owners and whereabouts of the five other original Registers as follows:

➤ The Library of Congress in Washington, D.C.

➤ The American Numismatic Society in New York City, New York.

➤ Duke University’s David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library in Durham, N.C.

➤ CSA note collector Jerry Wayne Hilton bought the original Register formerly owned by John J. Ford.

➤ The fifth original is in a private collection somewhere in the United States, according to Reed, citing numismatic literature dealer George Frederick Kolbe. Reed states that Kolbe has not revealed the identity of the owner. ■

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