Confederate States Of America Half Dollar
The Mint in New Orleans was seized by the State of Louisiana on January 19, 1861 and subsequently renamed the Confederate States Mint. Without interruption they continued to strike coins of the “realm” using the Union dies. Over the next four months they struck about two and a half million half-dollars and about seventeen thousand gold double eagles.
Christopher Memminger, Secretary of the Treasury, wanted to strike Confederate coins with designs appropriate to the south leaving the eagle and its counterpart to the north. His letter to Supt. Elmore at the New Orleans Mint, April 4, 1861, so stated this along with his instructions to seek from local artisans and designers such designs along with engravers. On April 12, 1861 he sent another letter instructing Supt. Elmore to “cease all efforts at securing and engraver and designs for coins! In this letter he warned that the mints may be suspended for difficulty in obtaining bullion. The letter actually instructing the mint superintendent to suspend operations effective June 1, 1861 was sent on May 14, 1861.
The four original Confederate half-dollars would appear to have been struck in late May just prior to the closing the Mint down.
Confederate States Of America One Cent
Robert Lovett Jr. a die designer and die sinker, of Philadelphia, was contracted by New York Bank Note Company (NYBNC) about creating a die for a Confederate Coin highlighting his ability to make mint grade dies. NYBNC was at that time engraving and printing Confederate money for the Confederacy and wanted to win the contract as Supplier of Choice. Some ten or twelve impressions were taken and delivered (John Haseltine’s sales literature, 1874) with several making their way to New Orleans in April 1861. Due the the outbreak of hostilities, nothing more transpired with Lovett.
In 1873 Lovett, while carrying on of his Confederate cents as a pocket piece, accidentally spent it in a west Philadelphia bar. The barkeep realizing he had something special contacted well known Ultimastely Marris bought the 10 numismatist Dr. Edwin Maris. Maris brought in Haseltine and J. Colvin Randal. Ultimately Maris bought the ten remaining cents and Haseltine bought the dies.
After the war in 1874 John W. Hasteltine struck a reported 55 pieces in copper and some in gold and silver, but none in copper/nickel. Lovett struck his originals in copper/nickel, and Hasteltine didn’t use this alloy, so as not to be confused with the original 12 “Confederate” One Cents. An interesting designation since it was unnecessary. The originals were struck in medalic alignment whereas the restrikes were in coin alignment.
J.W. Scott Restrikes
J.W. Scott came up with an idea to restrike Confederate Half Dollars and bought the original obverse die from Ebenezer Locke Mason Jr., then purchased 500 circulated U.S. 1861-O Seated Half Dollars. He ground down the reverse of each half dollar then struck it with the Confederate obverse.
This method of production caused a flattening and distortion of the Seated design and are identified by this factor. Furthermore the Confederate obverse is used to grade the coin since the reverse is so altered. Almost all examples display a poor reverse with only a few choice examples are known with little
J.W. Scott’s Token
J.W. Scott also produced another 500 tokens with the Confederate die obverse but with the reverse describing the striking of the original four C.S.A. half dollars. The “Scott” medal was struck in white metal and was sold to collectors for fifty cents each, but now sell for several thousands of dollars in mint state and when certified by a reputable third party grading service like NGC (Numismatic Guarantee Corporation) or PCGS (Professional Coin Grading Service).
Robert Bashlow and David Laties bought the Confederate one cent dies from John Ford and struck the coins using the defaced dies in 1962. The evidence on the coins of the dies being defaced is a hallmark for Blashlow restrikes. The coins were minted in copper, gold, nickel/silver, aluminum, red fiber, lead, platinum, tin, zinc with gold being the rarest at only three pieces struck, but less than fifty of the other metals.
Here’s another Bashlow restrike, half doll, “Confederate” token struck in 1962 and on the reverse a list of how many were struck in each metal or alloy. It’s been noted that the mintages on the back of this coin are not accurate, and the numbers struck are less than listed. The coins were struck for Bashlow by the August Frank, Co. of Philadelphia, PA.
There’s a lot of controversy about the various C.S.A. Originals about when, where and why they were struck whereas about the restrikes there is little controversy in comparison. So the above article is subject to change if more factual evidence presents itself. Also, the facts surrounding the capture, by Confederate forces, of the New Orleans mint and the facts about the striking of the four Confederate half dollars is under debate and questioned. So do your research and don’t take any one source as the gospel on Confederate coins and restrikes.
A special thanks to George Corell, contributor to the title “The Lovett Cent; a Confederate Story”, for his contribution on the CSA restrikes information.