This is a quick start list of things to do when beginning collecting Confederate Paper Money
1. Buy Books
- Collecting Confederate Paper Money - Field Edition 2008. By Pierre Fricke. This is the book for the 21st century. See http://www.csaquotes.com/csabooks.html . This is best for the beginner looking to understand today's market and is a must if you want to be on top of the latest in grading, varieties, pricing and collecting trends. It has lots of information designed to help collectors advance from beginner to expert.
- History of Collecting Confederate States of America Paper Money - 1865 - 1945. Pierre Fricke and Fred Reed. This book outlines the history of collecting up through the end of World War II. Simple to use beginner's guide to the types. History of the Richmond CSA Money Hoard by Richard Doty. Also has a DVD with many tools - collecting checklists, rare confederate note condition census in details with hundreds of notes pictures, many articles, old auction catalogs, etc... See http://www.csaquotes.com/csabooks.html .
- Confederate Currency. Pierre Fricke. Shire Publications. Beautiful illustrated tour of the history of these Confederate notes through the War with timeline. Coming in late July 2012.
- A Guide Book of Counterfeit Confederate Currency. By George Tremmel. Published by Whitman. This book will help you identify countemporary counterfeits that circulated along with the genuine Treasury notes.
There are other books worth owning. George Tremmel, Pierre Fricke and Marty Davis Confederate Treasury Certificates - A Collector's Guide to IDRs (2010), Hugh Shull's 2006 southern states currency book and others are good for modern or historical references.
4. Learn to grade. See Collecting Confederate Paper Money books for the best advice on this. Also talk with dealers and collectors. You'll get some different views and you'll understand the landscape better. Basically, I use these high level guidelines: Uncirculated (Unc) - No folds, damage, stains, possibly trimmed into the margin, but not distractingly so. About Uncirculated (AU) - One cross body fold or corner fold (AU+ for the latter). "Teller" counting handling tolerated. No problems as with Unc. Extremely or Extra Fine (EF or XF) - No more than three cross body folds and perhaps a subtle corner fold or two. Trivial handling may be tolerated. No problems as with Unc. Very Fine (VF) - No more than eight cross body folds, a corner fold or two and some minor handling. Almost all crispness or body remains except at the folds. Fine (F) - Too many folds to count and a lot of circulation handling. Some of the crispness or body of the paper remains. Some dirt may be present. Minor stains OK. Very Good (VG) - No crispness remains. Limp. Edges show a good amount of circulation and tiny tears. Dirty. Some stains possible, but not major. Good (G) - Note is mostly intact, but may have tears into the body and edge damage. Stains and discoloration are usually present.
Grading qualifiers include - Choice (full frame line, well above average); Average; and Impaired (Problems inconsistent with the grade).
6. Start slowly. Buy a number of common 1863 or 1864 notes and become familiar with the look, feel, grading of genuine notes. Also consider buying some inexpensive 1861 notes such as T-18, T-20 and T-36. These notes are inexpensive and are the right place to make your "mistakes" and pay your "tuition". Buying a repaired Montgomery note that is priced as original is a much more expensive "school" to learn in. Once comfortable, then go for the rare notes.