UNC Libraries

North Carolina Civil War Issues

NC Civil War Issues (1861-1865)

North Carolina Civil War treasury note, $50, 1863
North Carolina Civil War treasury note, $50, 1863
North Carolina Civil War treasury note, 5 cents, 1863
North Carolina Civil War treasury note, 5 cents, 1863

The University Libraries’ numismatic collection contains thousands of specimens from the American Civil War, including large numbers of treasury notes issued by the State of North Carolina, the Confederate government, and by other southern states. It also preserves examples of scrip issued by several North Carolina towns and counties during the war, as well as hundreds of examples of southern and northern bank notes, company scrip, railroad stock certificates, northern tokens or “storecards,” receipts, wartime vouchers, and dozens of North Carolina and Confederate bonds.

The about 3400 North Carolina Civil War treasury notes in the University Libraries' collection have been described in detail in a 2019 article in Paper Money, the journal of the Society of Paper Money Collectors.

This section showcases a selection of genuine North Carolina currencies from the war, along with examples of period counterfeit and other fraudulent notes, as well as modern reproductions that some people misidentify or misrepresent today as authentic North Carolina issues from the Civil War.

Uncut sheet of North Carolina Civil War treasury notes, 10 and 20 cents, 1861
Uncut sheet of North Carolina
Civil War treasury notes
10 and 20 cents, 1861
Original bundle of North Carolina treasury notes, 1863
Original bundle of North Carolina
treasury notes, 1863

Above, left: Uncut sheet of North Carolina Civil War treasury 10 and 20 cent notes of 1861. The sheet is as it came from the printer, except that it has been hand numbered and signed. The notes remain to be cut apart and placed into circulation. The item at right is an original bound bundle of $1 notes of 1863. It is actually a bundle of bundles, with some of the notes from the top bundle removed.

W. Shelburn, sutler, Camp Fourth Brigade, North Carolina Troops 50 cents, 1863
W. Shelburn, sutler, Camp Fourth Brigade
North Carolina Troops 50 cents, 1863
Greensboro Mutual 25 cents, 1862
Greensboro Mutual 25 cents, 1862

Above, left: One of the more unusual items in the collection is the sutler note. It was issued by W. Shelburn, sutler to Camp Fourth Brigade, North Carolina Troops, for 50 cents, 1863. A sutler was a private merchant appointed by the government to follow the troops and sell them goods not provided by the military. Later, as troops were better supplied by the military, the need for sutlers ended. The note at right was issued by the Greensboro Mutual Life Insurance and Trust Company in 1862. The printer, Sterling, Campbell & Albright, also printed school textbooks.

The Effect of the War on Bank Note Printing
for the Confederate States

Bank of Lexington, $5, early 1861, intaglio printing
Bank of Lexington, $5, March 1, 1861
intaglio printing
Bank of Lexington, $5, later 1861, lithography
Bank of Lexington, $5, September 3, 1861
lithography

Above: The note at left was printed for the Bank of Lexington, North Carolina, by the American Bank Note Company using intaglio printing with engraved steel plates. This technology produces notes with very fine lines of slightly raised ink. It was the pinnacle of security printing, producing notes that best resisted counterfeiting. The New York City company was one of several security printers offering itaglio printing, almost all located in northern states. The note at right was produced locally after the start of the conflict. It was lithographed, a technology available in the South, but one that could not produce the same quality as itaglio printing. Lithographed notes were much more successfully counterfeited.

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