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Confederate States of America





Three of the four United States Mints—New Orleans, Charlotte, and Dahlonega—were in Confederate territory. Only the New Orleans Mint continued to strike coins after secession; nearly 1 million 1861-O half dollars were struck under the authority of the Confederate States of America. The Confederacy also struck four half dollars and placed an order for cents, which had an estimated mintage of only 12 to 15 pieces.

In 1861 there were four United States mints: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; New Orleans, Louisiana; Dahlonega, Georgia; and Charlotte, North Carolina. The latter three were termed “branch mints” and issued their first coins in 1838. Dahlonega and Charlotte were established because of their proximity to a then-important gold mining region. New Orleans, on the other hand, was a busy commercial port. All three branch mints were in states that seceded from the Union during the Civil War.

The only Southern mint that is known to have struck coins under the auspices of the Confederate States of America is the New Orleans Mint. On January 31, 1861 two and a half months before shots were fired at Fort Sumter the New Orleans Mint was seized by the State of Louisiana, which turned it over to the Confederacy the following month. More than 2.5 million O-Mint half dollars were struck in 1861 and nearly 1 million of those were issued under the authority of the Confederate States of America. 1861-O half dollars with a die crack from the rim to Liberty’s nose (FS-401, WB-102) share the same obverse as the as the Confederate half dollars and are designated CSA OBVERSE on the holder by NGC.

In April 1861 Confederate Treasury Secretary Christopher Memminger asked for designs to be prepared for a half dollar. Four examples were struck at the New Orleans Mint and given to Memminger (who then gave it to Confederate President Jefferson Davis), Professor J. L. Riddell of the University of Louisiana, E. Ames of New Orleans, and chief coiner B. F. Taylor. On April 30, 1861 Memminger closed the New Orleans Mint because of difficulties in obtaining bullion.

In 1879 an example of the Confederate half dollar and the coin’s reverse die was found in former chief coiner Taylor’s possessions. These were purchased by E. Mason, Jr. of Philadelphia and sold to J. W. Scott and Company of New York. Scott purchased 500 1861 half dollars, effaced the reverse, and struck them with the Confederate die. These are called Confederate restrike half dollars. He also struck 500 medals with his own obverse and the Confederate reverse. Both the restrike half dollars and the Scott medals are highly collectible.

The Confederacy also explored the possibility of striking one cent coins. In 1861 a CSA official contacted Bailey & Co. of Philadelphia, who in turn contacted engraver Robert Lovett, Jr. to produce the dies. Only a dozen or so Confederate cents were struck and all were hidden by Lovett, who feared arrest by the United States. The original dies were later purchased by coin dealer John W. Haseltine, who made a small number of restrikes in 1874. In 1961 the dies were copied and restrikes were made by Robert Bashlow; these later restrikes have a number of dies cracks and rust marks.


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