Despite jokes in old movies and television shows, Confederate money and other types of money that aren't legally spendable can still be quite valuable. Both bills and coins are often sought by collectors, and it can be worth investigating with the help of an expert, online reference material or a printed guide whether your old funds are worth more than the paper they're printed on.
TL;DR (Too Long; Didn't Read)
There are several ways one can look up the value of their Confederate money, such as using an online or printed directory or getting an appraisal from a reputable dealer.
If you have antique coins or paper money from the Confederacy or any other time period, you can consult printed manuals that will tell you the approximate price for the money based on its year, condition and other facts like where it was printed or minted. You can search for books covering the types of currency you have in a bookstore or online, or see if they're available at your local library.
Naturally, money in better condition is usually worth more, and more obscure types can be more valuable. Unless you're an expert, it's generally not worth trying to clean or restore old money yourself to raise the value. In fact, your efforts may backfire if you inadvertently damage an old coin or bill.
You can also find online guides that discuss how much various types of vintage money may be worth today, or check auction sites like eBay to see if you can determine for what price comparable items have sold. Some of these sites may offer to buy your currency, so it may be worth getting a second opinion from someone if you're unsure about whether they're giving you a fair price.
Unfortunately, the U.S. government doesn't appraise old or rare coins or bills, even if they were issued by the U.S. or Confederate authorities. However, plenty of experts are able to tell you approximately how much that old money is worth.
It may be worth checking to make sure a dealer or appraiser with whom you're looking to do business is a member of the American Numismatic Association, a coin collecting nonprofit which holds its member dealers to a code of ethics. Its website offers a search tool to help you find dealers in your area or to verify that a particular dealer is a member. You can also search by specialty, including the time periods on which a dealer focuses or for those who handle coins or paper money.
Another group called the Professional Coin Grading Service also authorizes dealers who adhere to its own customer bill of rights.
- Whitman: Currency Books
- Coin Values: Why You Shouldn't Clean Your Coins
- Old Currency Values: Values of Confederate Paper Money
- Consumer Reports: How Much Is Your Coin Collection Worth? Here´s the appraisal
- U.S. Department of the Treasury: Buying, Selling & Redeeming
- American Numismatic Association: Dealer Directory
Steven Melendez is an independent journalist with a background in technology and business. He has written for a variety of business publications including Fast Company, the Wall Street Journal, Innovation Leader and Ad Age. He was awarded the Knight Foundation scholarship to Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism.