Real confederate money can command a hefty premium, but at first glance it’s not always easy to determine if old relics are originals or replicas. Some collection experts claim more fake than real confederate money exists. A few key items on the money might help you figure out if you hold a real piece of Civil War history. Only after that can you truly determine the value of the note.
Examine the signature on the lower right corner. Original confederate notes are all hand-signed in black ink, except for 50 cent bills from 1863 and 1864. The ink often turned brown on notes exposed to natural elements. Hand-signed bills may also show signs of erosion or of burning through the paper.
Look at the serial number on the front of the bill. Serial numbers on original confederate money were printed in blue, brown or red ink. Most serial numbers were handwritten, but some were stamped. Time has not been kind to these numbers, so they may show significant fading. Stamped serial numbers appear uneven because they were hand stamped, not printed by a machine.
Examine the note's outer edges. Sheets of confederate notes were often hand-cut. As a result, the edges of authentic bills may be crooked, uneven or rough. The printed borders might also extend to the edge of the currency. In contrast, the borders of modern day money are always centered.
Search for fake serial numbers. Some experts list fake confederate serial numbers on their websites. If your serial number isn’t on the list, you could be in luck.
Have the note appraised if you think the money is an original issue. Contact an appraiser or auctioneer to value the bill on a grading system. A circulation grade describes how worn it is, how many folds the paper contains and how damaged the bill is by tears or splits. Original confederate money can be worth around $100 to over $10,000. Contemporary counterfeit money, which was issued during the war by unauthorized individuals, also has value since it was in circulation at the same time. The value of a contemporary counterfeit bill is about the same as an original issue.