Paper Money

South Carolina offers Civil War era notes in sealed-bid auction

A sealed-bid auction of more than 3,000 pieces of deaccessioned Confederate currency divided into 75 lots is being held from Jan. 15 to Feb. 15. Many lots offer multiple notes. Bids will be opened on the 158th anniversary of the notes’ issue.

All images courtesy of the South Carolina Archives & History Center.

A sealed-bid auction of more than 3,000 pieces of deaccessioned Confederate currency divided into 75 lots is being held from Jan. 15 until Feb. 15. The seller is a new entity in paper money auctions — the South Carolina Archives & History Center in Columbia.

All notes are issues of Feb. 17, 1864, and include the $5, $10, $20, $50, $100 and $500 denominations.

The $500 denomination is the only one offered in single-note lots, of which there are 13. They range from one grading Good with a reserve of $125, up to several described as About Uncirculated with a $500 reserve.

The nine 100-piece lots of $10 bills are each described as ranging from Fine to Extremely Fine, and the eight lots of 50 notes each are described as from About Uncirculated to Uncirculated.

The $20 issue is also in plentiful supply, with nearly 600 notes in mixed lots with descriptions ranging from Fine to About Uncirculated, to Extremely Fine to Uncirculated. The latter are posted with a reserve of $675 for 20-piece lots.

No type of bidding other than sealed bids will be accepted. If a lot does not receive at least one bid of at least the posted reserve amount, it will not be sold.

The bids will be opened on Feb. 17, beginning at 10:30 a.m. Eastern Time at the South Carolina Archives and History Center. In the event of tie bids, the one received earliest will be the winner.

The full list of items and all particulars can be found at

About the notes

These notes were part of the seventh and final issue of currency produced by the Confederate government. The Confederate Treasury Department relocated to Columbia from Richmond in 1864, as did the engravers, the firm of Keatinge and Ball.

The $5 and $10 notes are clearly marked as being printed by the firm of Evans and Cogswell and, the center says, it is likely most of the other notes were also.

Evans and Cogswell had a plant in Columbia that produced currency, bonds and other documents for the Confederacy. Their building, better known as the Confederate Printing Plant, still stands at 501 Gervais St. in Columbia

The offered notes were found bundled among 40 cubic feet of redeemed currency notes at the Bank of the State of South Carolina. They were redeemed and canceled in 1879 to 1881 and were to have been destroyed. However, legal issues kept them bundled and stored in the basement of the South Carolina State House until the 1960s, when they were transferred from the custody of the state treasurer to the state archives. They were re-discovered in 2007 when the archives began a project to assess the large quantity of notes.

The sale is authorized by the General Assembly under Section 60-11-102 of the South Carolina Code of Laws.

All funds realized are to be used solely for the improvement of access to the archival collection held by the South Carolina Department of Archives and History and its preservation.

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