Counterfeit Detection: 1861 Confederate States of America 10 Dollars

Posted on 6/25/2024

Poorly executed Confederate currency was a target for counterfeiters; vintage fake notes are valued by collectors today.

Paper money was widely used by both sides during the United States' Civil War, which began in 1861. The Confederate government faced numerous challenges in producing paper money, including the shortage of talent and lack of sophisticated equipment. As a result, most Confederate currency has a crude appearance, which helped make it a tempting target for counterfeiters, especially early in the war before its value was severely eroded by hyperinflation.

Over a dozen designs were produced for Confederate States of America 10 Dollars, including an 1861 version with a cotton harvesting scene known by its catalog number: T-29. The note is one of five Confederate notes that depict slavery, which was brought to an end in the United States with the defeat of the Confederacy. The recently added federal holiday of Juneteenth on June 19 commemorates the day in 1865 when Union forces arrived at Galveston, Texas, to enforce the end of slavery.

Genuine Confederate States of America 1861 10 Dollars
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Genuine examples of this note often realize several hundred dollars at auction, while contemporary counterfeits sell for about $100. The PMG Population Report lists more than 250 examples of genuine T-29 notes and more than 40 examples of their contemporary counterfeits, identified as CT-29. PMG, at its sole discretion, certifies vintage counterfeits that have value to the collecting community, such as the one shown below, which is being offered in a Heritage Auctions sale in July 2024.

Contemporary Counterfeit Confederate States of America 1861 10 Dollars
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The contemporary counterfeits of these Confederate notes often struggled to reproduce the level of detail present on genuine ones. This is particularly noticeable on this counterfeit, which is a lithograph print, like the genuine example shown above. However, much of the main vignette, including the clouds, appears to be gray and blurry on the counterfeit.

Also notice that genuine notes have a thin outline around the words at the top of the note: FUNDABLE IN EIGHT PERCENT STOCK OR BONDS OF CONFEREDATE STATES OF AMERICA. On counterfeits, this outline is often much thicker, giving the letters are more bubble-like appearance.

Close-ups of a genuine (top) and counterfeit 1861 10 Dollar note
Click images to enlarge

Paper money often has various sizes and styles of fonts in its design, which helps make life difficult for counterfeiters. Notice on the genuine example that the vertical strokes thicken considerably on many letters of the words near the center of the note, including the first letters in Six, Treaty, Confederate and States. The counterfeit lacks the nuance of the genuine example.

Close-ups of a genuine (left) and counterfeit 1861 10 Dollar note

Click images to enlarge.

Knowing whether you have a genuine note or a contemporary counterfeit is important in determining its value. Remember that PMG backs its determinations of authenticity and grade with the PMG Guarantee.

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