The Numismatic Bibliomania Society



The E-Sylum: Volume 18, Number 36, September 6, 2015, Article 28


Last week I asked about the hoard of South Carolina notes being sold thorugh ads in the Wall Street Journal. Many thanks to Ron Benice for the following information! -Editor

Ron writes:

The South Carolina Civil War Era $5 notes probably came from a hoard auctioned by The South Carolina Department of Archives and History in April 2008. There were approximately 800 uncut sheets and 11,000 single notes. I believe that most, if not all, of these bulk lots were bought by the prominent South Carolina dealer in Civil War currency. There were numerous subsequent auctions (some on eBay) of lesser material

Ron provided several links for more information. Thanks! Here's an excerpt from a 2008 story from CoinLInk. -Editor

South Carolina Department of Archives and History is offering for sale through a sealed bid auction State of South Carolina currency that was redeemed and cancelled by the state in the nineteenth century.

South Carolina banknotes uncut sheet The notes available are State of South Carolina January 1, 1866 uncut sheets of $1, $2, $5 and $10 (Sheheen 1, 2, 3, 4).

There are 623 uncut sheets of $1 and $2 signed by the comptroller general; 60 uncut sheets of $1 and $2 signed by both the comptroller and treasurer; and 150 uncut sheets of $5 and $10 with no signatures. 1866 Uncut sheets Unsigned The These will be sold in 10 (lots 1-10) equally divided lots each containing 80 uncut sheets. Each lot contains 6 $1 and $2 sheets signed by the comptroller general and the treasurer; 60 $1 and $2 uncut sheets signed by the comptroller general; and 14 $5 and $10 unsigned sheets.

One additional lot (lot 11) contains 23 $1 and $2 sheets signed by the comptroller general and 10 $5 and $10 unsigned sheets. All sheets are average-vf or better. All of these sheets are cut cancelled. The minimum bid is $3,200 for lots 1-10 and $1,300 for lot 11.

Also available are State of South Carolina December 1, 1873 in denominations of $1, $2, $5, $10, $20, and $50 (Sheheen 16-21). There are a total of 11,037 notes, 6,164 are ink cancelled and 4,873 are cut cancelled.

All notes are average-vf or better. These will be sold in 6 equal lots (lots 12-17) each containing 945 ink cancelled notes and 730 cut cancelled notes. There is also an 18th lot containing 494 ink cancelled and 493 cut cancelled notes. The minimum bid is $15,000 for lots 12-17 and $9,500 for lot 18.

To read the complete article, see:
19th Century South Carolina Currency Sale (

Here's a New York Times article from June 6, 2009. -Editor

State officials have quietly picked through boxes of Civil War state currency and auctioned it on eBay, providing the state archives with an influx of cash amid tight budgets.

“These are very bad times,” said Charles Lesser, a senior archivist at the South Carolina Department of Archives and History. “This helps us a great deal. We can pay for things we could never afford otherwise.”

About 40 boxes of the currency were supposed to be destroyed more than a century ago, but some of the bills were tucked away in the Statehouse basement and eventually moved to the state archives. They sat there largely undisturbed for four decades, and only recently did officials realize they could sell the cash.

The archives have made about $200,000 selling hundreds of the bills over the past couple of years. Most of that money was made in an auction of uncut sheets of the currency last year, but every week or so, South Carolina puts a couple of loose bills up for sale online. The old money is a little wider, whiter and lighter than today’s paper money.

Last month, a bill from the Bank of South Carolina worth $4 when it was issued almost 150 years ago fetched nearly $400.

The man behind the project is Jack Meyer, 74, a retired University of South Carolina history professor who volunteers about eight hours a month to sift through the boxes and find bills in good enough condition to sell. In a year and a half he has made it through one of the 40 boxes.

“I’ve got job security,” Mr. Meyer said.

When the South lost the Civil War, Confederate money became worthless and the new Reconstruction government in South Carolina refused to cover the paper money issued by the state when it was not a part of the United States.

Several other Southern states went through a similar process after the Civil War, but Rodger Stroup, director of the state archives, said that as far as he knew, only South Carolina had failed to destroy all of its currency, bringing this unexpected windfall more than a century later.

Mr. Meyer spends every other Tuesday at a simple table in a third-floor room of the archives armed with a magnifying glass and bundles of bills. He tries to find bills that are not wrinkled or torn or look particularly aged. It is tedious work that reminds the occasionally acerbic academic of the decades he spent in the Air Force.

“It’s very interesting,” he said. “It’s like the military — 90 percent boredom, 10 percent excitement.”

The excitement comes at the least expected times, like the day Mr. Meyer said he turned over a $1 note and found a handwritten message: “The last of fifty-thousand and this is going for whiskey.”

That bill was preserved and will stay in the state archives, along with the best samples of every other distinct kind of currency Mr. Meyer finds as he goes through the boxes.

For each sale, the South Carolina archives pays a small fee to eBay and to the state surplus agency that handles the transaction. State law prevents the proceeds from going toward salaries, but allows the purchase of supplies like acid-free storage boxes and projects like digitizing frequently viewed documents, said Mr. Stroup, the archives director.

To read the complete article, see:
South Carolina Is Seeing How Far Some Civil War Cash Can Go ( .

To read the earlier E-Sylum article, see:

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Wayne Homren, Editor

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