Home Hobbyist column from Aug. 31, 2015, issue
of Coin World:
As a matter of historical record, home hobbyists may collect paper
currency from both the Union and Confederate States of America,
imagining the Civil War and the hoarding of coins that gave way to
paper money as a mainstay of both economies.
Current news events I mention here likely will have played out by
the time you read this. But one seldom mentioned bit of historical
news will remain: the appearance of a woman on the Confederate $1 and
$100 notes, Lucy Petway Holcombe Pickens, also known as the “Queen of
This summer, Jack Lew, secretary of the Treasury, decided it
was time for a woman to appear on the $10 bill. So many American women
qualified for that honor, including human rights advocate and first
lady Eleanor Roosevelt, civil rights hero Rosa Parks, and abolitionist
Nonhobbyists may believe the woman to appear on our $10 bill will be
the first in U.S. paper currency history. However, with their love of
history, many hobbyists know that Pocahontas appeared on the back of an 1875 $20
national bank note and Martha Washington on the Series 1886 $1 silver certificate.
Lucy Pickens appeared on the Confederate $1 and
$100 note in 1862. Pickens was the wife of South Carolina Gov. Francis
Wilkinson Pickens, who took office shortly before that state was the
first to secede from the Union. He also sanctioned the firing on Fort
Sumter in Charleston Harbor in 1861.
Lucy Pickens was said to have watched the bombardment from a rooftop
Before the outbreak of war, she reportedly agreed to marry Francis
Pickens only if he became an ambassador. Smitten with her, he lobbied
to become U.S. minister to Russia in 1858. There the couple befriended
Czar Alexander II and spouse Maria Alexandrovna. The Russian royal duo
became godparents to Pickens’ daughter, whom they called Douschka,
which means “darling” in Russian.
Lucy Pickens received gifts from the Russian royal government,
including precious jewels. During the Civil War, she purportedly sold
them to help finance a unit of the Confederate forces.
While she became the CSA icon during the war, she rapidly was
forgotten in the decades that followed, surpassed by other women who
held different beliefs, including the aforementioned Tubman,
abolitionist and author Harriet Beecher Stowe, and nurse Clara Barton,
one of the founders of the American Red Cross.
This column is not really about Lucy Pickens. Nor is it about the
woman on the U.S. $10 note, nor the Confederate flag at the South
Carolina Capitol. It is about how our hobby educates us about history,
prompting us to research the past by the coins and paper currency that