Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Stamps of the Confederate States of America

According to a write-up on the Beyond The Perf website about the provisionals and stamps of the Confederate States of America, the first Confederate issue off the presses at the beginning of the Civil War in 1861 was a 5-cent stamp featuring a portrait of C.S.A. President Jefferson Davis.

It goes on to say, "In effect, Davis became the first living person to appear on a postage stamp — reflecting a break from how things were done in the U.S. postal system. (For comparison’s sake, even Abraham Lincoln wasn’t portrayed on a stamp until after his death, in 1866.)

"Not only did the Confederates have a new country and a blank rule book to play by; they also had a new leader they needed to establish. At the time, putting his portrait on a postage stamp was the most effective, expedient way to do so.

"The rate on the stamp reveals the economic desperation of the Confederacy. For the 1- and 3-cent rates in circulation across the North, the South issued 2- and 5-cent rates — and the 5-cent rate quickly escalated to 10 cents. Mail crossing the Mississippi River cost a steep 40 cents."

It is interesting to note that the U.S. Post Office Department ordered that all pre-war stamps be demonetized, for fear that the Confederate postmasters would take them, sell them, and put the profits in their coffers.

Shown here, a 1861 Baton Rouge, Louisiana 5¢ Confederate provisional. This was the first government-issued, bi-colored adhesive stamps to appear anywhere in the Western Hemisphere according to the National Postal Museum.

For more on the stamps of the Confederacy, click here.
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posted by Don Schilling at 12:01 AM