Timothy F. writes: I have an 1861 Confederate half dollar that I found in Augusta Ga. I have been told that it is a fake. The coin has the same design on both sides with the only difference being one side has the date 1861 and the other side has the words half dol. I would like to find out more info.
The only coin struck under the Confederacy was a prototype half dollar struck at the New Orleans Mint.
When the Confederacy seized the New Orleans Mint there was little bullion for coinage. What was there were the dies for the 1861-O U.S. half dollar. A reverse die showing a shield with a Liberty cap above, surrounded by a wreath and the legend CONFEDERATE STATES OF AMERICA HALF DOL. was married to a Federal half dollar obverse with the familiar Seated Liberty design and the date 1861. Only four coins were struck (one example was in the possession of Jefferson Davis when he was captured at the end of the Civil War). The metal was the same as the original Union coin, 90% silver.
Collectors weren’t aware of the Confederate half dollar until 1879 when an example of the coin along with the obverse and reverse dies were discovered in the care of Dr. B.F. Taylor of New Orleans. The reverse die and the confederate half dollar specimen were purchased by a Philadelphia collector, E. Mason, Jr. Later they were sold to the J.W. Scott & Co. in New York.
The Scott company purchased 500 Federal 1861 New Orleans half dollars, planned off the reverse and struck them with the Confederate reverse die. These “restrikes” of the 1861 Confederate half dollar are easy to tell from the original as the obverses are distorted and flattened by the action of the die on the reverse.
Scott also created tokens in white metal with the Confederate reverse and a special die that was inscribed: 4 ORIGINALS STRUCK BY ORDER OF C.S.A. IN NEW ORLEANS ******* REV. SAME AS U.S. FROM ORIGINAL DIE SCOTT.
There are also two (maybe more) examples with the CSA reverse die after it was cancelled with a chisel. There are also copies of the Scott pieces that were made in the 1960s.
If you have one of the Scott restrikes, you might want to have it authenticated by one of the Coin Grading services. See their links on the CoinSite Links page .
Approximate Value Ranges, depending on grade:
1861 Half Dollar Restrike: $3,000 – $7,000
1861 Scott Token obverse, Confederate reverse: $650 – $2,500
1861 Scott Token copies, circa 1960: $2.
There are no other half dollars associated with The Confederate States of America. Of the years, there have been all kinds of souvenirs made to commemorate the CSA, but all of these are private fabrications, including some non-coinage metal concoctions in lead and white metal. Since they lack the historical perspective of “having been there” they have little or no collector value.