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Kolbe & Fanning Offer Thian Album of Confederate Currency

Online Catalogue Now Available for Bidding

The catalogue for Kolbe & Fanning’s 2017 New York Book Auction has been posted to the firm’s online bidding platform at Every lot is illustrated in color and absentee bids can be placed at any time prior to the sale. Live internet bidding will be available during the sale itself through the same platform.

One of the highlights of this year’s sale is an original copy of Raphael Thian’s enormously important work The Currency of the Confederate States of America, Its Issues, Types and Series. This remarkable book, produced in very limited numbers beginning around 1885, is Thian’s magnum opus, exploring the paper money issues of the Confederacy in great detail and illustrating the text with actual specimens of Confederate paper money. The volume comprises not only a textbook on the subject, but a collection of the notes themselves: this particular example includes 297 specimens of Confederate currency, with only six of the rarest being 19th-century photographic reproductions. It is one of only a few such “Master Albums” in private hands.

Raphael P. Thian (1830-1911) worked as chief clerk for the Adjutant General’s Office of the United States Army. He produced several works on the subject of Confederate currency, all of which were published in very small numbers. His 1880 Register of Issues of Confederate States Treasury Notes… has long been regarded as one of the rarest substantial works in American numismatics. Unlike Thian’s earlier works, the Master Albums sought to illustrate every variety of Confederate note issued, including watermark and plate variations and other differences deemed too minor to be included in an album more concerned with types. These Master Albums are usually undated, though three known examples bear presentation inscriptions dated between 1906 (this copy) and 1908. Given that Thian died in 1911, the Master Albums represent Thian’s final word on the subject that had fascinated him for so much of his life.

Thian once wrote that “the history of the purse is as valuable as that of the sword.” As numismatists, we tend to agree. This example of a Master Album would constitute an extraordinary addition to even the most advanced numismatic library or collection of Confederate currency.

Printed copies of Kolbe & Fanning’s 2017 New York Book Auction have been mailed to active customers on our mailing list. A PDF of the printed version is also available on the main Kolbe & Fanning website at for anyone wishing to download the sale or search by keywords.

The sale will take place on Saturday, January 14, 2017, beginning at 12:30 p.m. eastern time, at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in Manhattan in conjunction with the 2017 New York International Numismatic Convention (NYINC). Please contact David Fanning at [email protected] with any questions.

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