This May, the National Money show will be hosted by the city of
New Orleans. The city was founded in 1708 by
the French. Due to it being a port city, New Orleans has been a
historically significant city, especially during times of war.
During the Civil War, New Orleans made a mark in the history books
for another reason.
During the Civil War, in February 1861, the New Orleans Mint was
taken over by the Confederates and renamed the Confederate State
Mint. The Confederates had the idea of starting their own
coinage, but that plan quickly failed. Nevertheless, the
Confederate State Mint did strike four extremely collectible
Three mints in the South were taken over by Confederates shortly
after the Civil War began in 1861. The mints in Charlotte, N.C., and Dahlonega, Ga., were relegated to office
status due to a shortage of bullion.
The New Orleans Mint continued to operate. In 1861, the mint
produced coinage for three governments: the United States, the
state of Louisiana during the time the mint was taken over by
the state, and the Confederate States of America.
Christopher Memminger, Confederate treasury
secretary, had the idea of the Confederate states minting its own
coinage. He approved a half-dollar design with the obverse
displaying was the standard federal seated Liberty figure; on the
reverse side was a new confederate coat of arms surrounded by
cotton and sugar cane.
(Obverse Side: 1861
Confederate half dollar)
(Reverse Side: 1861
Confederate half dollar)
With the design approved, minting could begin. Except, there was
one major issue: The price of silver was rising so high that it
made it impossible to obtain. Memminger spent more time
thinking about producing the Confederate coinage; ultimately, he
believed that producing the Confederate coinage would be
futile for his government.
Four Confederate half-dollars were minted. It is presumed that
the recipients were Southern President Jefferson Davis, University
of Louisiana Professor John L. Riddell, Dr. E. Ames of New
Orleans, and Chief Coiner of the Confederate States Mint B.F.
With its remaining bullion, the New Orleans Mint produced
standard federal coinage until it closed in April 1861. The mint
reopened its doors 18 years later in 1879.
In 1861, between all three governments, the New Orleans Mint
created 2,532,633 half-dollars.
The die from the Confederate half-dollar was sold and ended up
in the hands of J. Walter Scott, who used the die to create
restrikes. Original restrikes can be valued at $4,000 to
$10,000. However, the most valuable and collectible
half-dollars are not the restrikes, but the original four
To learn more about numismatics of New Orleans, plan a
trip today to the National Money Show this May and experience the
unique culture and rich numismatic history associated with the