University Archives


Rare Early Confederate Loan Certificate with Image of Benjamin Franklin

[CONFEDERACY.] Charles T. Jones, Printed Document Signed, Confederate Loan Certificate to the Mechanics Savings Society, Petersburg, Virginia, for $1,000, August 22, 1861, Richmond, Virginia. 1 p., 11.5ʺ x 7.25ʺ. With oval portrait of Benjamin Franklin and embossed “Confederate States of America / Tres Dept” seal; also signed by Chief Clerk Henry D. Capers. Expected folds; tightly trimmed on left; very good.

It is hereby Certified that the Confederate States of America Are indebted unto Mechanics Savings Society, Petersburg, Va. Or assigns in the Sum of One Thousand Dollars redeemable after the first day of September 1871 with interest from the 22 day of August 1861 inclusive at eight percent per annum payable on the first days of January and July in each year....

On February 28, 1861, the first session of the Provisional Congress of the Confederate States, held at Montgomery, Alabama, passed “An Act to raise Money for the support of the Government, and to provide for the Defence of the Confederate States of America.” The act authorized the Confederate president to borrow up to $15 million and authorized the Secretary of the Treasury to prepare “certificates of stocks or bonds, in such sums hereafter mentioned [not less than $50], for the amount to be borrowed as aforesaid, to be signed by the Register of the Treasury and sealed with the seal of the Treasury; and the said certificates of stocks or bonds shall be made payable at the expiration of ten years from the first day of September next; and the interest thereon shall be paid semi-annually, at the rate of eight per cent. per annum....”

Acting Register Charles T. Jones signed this Certificate for $1,000 contributed by the Mechanics Savings Society of Petersburg. Unlike later loan certificates, which featured images of southerners such as John C. Calhoun, Howell Cobb, Alexander Stephens, or Jefferson Davis, this certificate includes an engraved image of Benjamin Franklin.

Charles T. Jones (1815-aft. 1897) had served for several years in the United States Treasury Department and joined the Confederate Register’s bureau as chief clerk. One observer declared that the Confederate Treasury was “more indebted to the willing spirit and indefatigable labors of Mr. Jones than to any other single individual for the rapid and perfect organization of the department in all of its details.” Jones served as Acting Register and was empowered to sign bonds when the Register was absent. He served under Register Alexander B. Clitherall (1820-1869) and then Register Robert Tyler (1816-1877), the son of former President John Tyler.

Mechanics Savings Society of Petersburg received a charter from the Virginia General Assembly in 1837 as a savings and loan corporation with twenty-seven charter members. Approximately half of the Society’s incorporating members were affiliated with the Petersburg Benevolent Mechanics Association, an organization of craft workers established to promote solidarity among artisans.

This item comes with a Certificate from John Reznikoff, a premier authenticator for both major 3rd party authentication services, PSA and JSA (James Spence Authentications), as well as numerous auction houses.


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