Confederate bank note printer has last laugh
- Published: Dec 9, 2015, 12 PM
Shortly after the commencement of hostilities in the spring of 1861, the Confederate Department of the Treasury realized that it was going to have to bring other printers on-line to keep up with the demand for additional Treasury notes.
The first firm used was Hoyer & Ludwig, conveniently located in Richmond, Va., and they initially printed more than 670,000 notes consisting of five different denominations ranging from $5 to $100.
The war came uncomfortably close to Richmond in the spring of 1862, when the Peninsula Campaign approached the very outskirts of the city.
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In May 1862, nearly two months before Robert E. Lee turned back the Union advances, the Confederate government ordered the printers to evacuate and relocate their operations to Columbia, S.C. All complied except Hoyer & Ludwig, who refused to leave the city.
Secretary of the Treasury C.G. Memminger, faced with this rather public “disobedience,” felt he had no choice but to strip the company of its printing contracts and award them to J.T. Paterson & Co., a new firm, politically connected to Vice President Alexander Stephens.
Hoyer & Ludwig, not being inclined to just give up, served up a proposal to Memminger that offered the department over a 55 percent savings on printing costs. When Memminger readily accepted the offer, the price reduction did not affect Hoyer & Ludwig because they had no business. But the other printers’ margins were heavily squeezed because the department enforced the new prices on existing contracts. As a token of thanks, Memminger gave the company a contract to print a new $10 note, known today as Criswell T-46 in the standard cataloging system for Confederate notes.
An unusual stipulation was attached, however, that the firm’s name could not appear on the note or any other future notes that the firm would be allowed to print. Memminger clearly wanted to keep quiet the fact that he was continuing to do business with a firm that had refused to move.
Ludwig, however, had the last laugh on the T-46 note. If you look very carefully in the foreground beneath the cotton bale on which the maiden is seated, you can make out LUDWIG in very small letters!
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