Editor’s Note: This letter/article was submitted by long-time subscriber Gen. Conrad L. Bush, CSA, of Fort Walton Beach, Florida. If you have a collecting experience you’d like to share, we welcome your stories. Turn to page 5 for our contact information.
What prompted me to write this was a trip to a museum that had a lot of Civil War memorabilia. There were two gentlemen there, one was a college history professor and the other, the museum curator. I asked if they had any Confederate postal items on display, especially stamps. Neither of them even knew that the Confederacy had postage stamps.
Below are 10 historic facts about Confederate stamps I thought I’d share with my fellow readers of Antique Trader.
How did they manage to get a postal system organized so quickly?
The Confederate Postmaster General, John H. Regan asked the current postmasters to stay in their positions and work for the Confederate government. They also would not have to serve in the armed forces. Most decided this was a good idea.
What did they do for postage beforehand?
In the beginning, official postage was not printed due to a lack of printers in the South. However, some of the postmasters in the larger cities had their own postage printed. These are called “Postmaster Provisionals.” They were only valid for postage in the city issued and only until General Issue stamps were available.
How many General Issue stamps are there?
There are only 17 different General Issue stamps.
Whose portraits are on the stamps, and why?
Thomas Jefferson and Andrew Jackson are on two, while John C. Calhoun and George Washington are on one each. The president of the Confederate States, Jefferson Davis, is on the remaining 11, so everyone would know what their president looked like. These stamps were in use from 1862 until 1865.
Are used or unused stamps more valuable?
It depends on which stamp, the cancel and its use.
Should you remove the stamps from the envelope?
Never remove ANY stamp from the envelope until an expert has had a chance to evaluate it. This applies to ALL stamps, regardless of where or when used.
What do you do with the letters that are in the envelopes?
Letters and any other enclosures should remain with the envelope.
Did they really strip wallpaper from the walls to make envelopes?
Although there was a severe paper shortage in the South, they did not strip wallpaper from the walls. When a room was papered, there was always a part roll left over and this was used to make a wallpaper envelope.
What are most of the envelopes made of?
Brown wrapping paper seems to have been prevalent in the South, and many of the envelopes are made from this. Few commercial envelopes were available and any piece of paper that was plain on one side could be made into an envelope.
Some envelopes were unglued and turned inside out and used a second time.
Were the Confederate stamps valid for postage at the end of the war?
Confederate stamps, as well as Confederate money, was worthless the day the war ended. But today, they all have value in the collectable market. It is interesting to note that near the end of the war a Confederate dollar was worth only 3 cents, but for that same dollar you could buy 10, 10-cent stamps and mail 10 letters. The Post Office Department was in the black up until the end of the war.
Check out www.csastamps.com for more details about Confederate stamps, envelopes and currency. For additional details about U.S. stamps in general, “Warman’s U.S. Stamps Field Guide, 3rd. Ed.” is a great place to start. Plus, when you order your copy at KrauseBooks.com you can save nearly 30 percent on the retail price.
If you’d like to connect with Gen. Bush to discuss more about Confederate stamps, he can be reached at:
Gen. Conrad L. Bush, CSA
39 Iowa Dr. N.E.
Fort Walton Beach, FL 32548-5029