1864 Chemicograph Backs

These six notes were struck from "Chemicograph" plates ordered by the Treasury Department of the Confederate States of America from S. Straker and Son, engravers, London, England, and were intended to be used for printing backs of the $5, $10, $20, $50, $100, and $500 notes of the February 17, 1864, issue.

The first shipment of plates was made by the engraver from London in January, 1864, but this, as well as subsequent shipments, disappeared, probably seized on vessels captured while attempting to run the tight Federal blockade of Southern ports.

A very few of these plates turned up, presumably escaping the usual fate of metal in the cargo of captured blockade runners-melting down as scrap. Only after three-quarters of a century were plates located to complete a set of all six denominations, which is believed to be unique. This set of notes, one of a definitely limited number, was printed from the plates before they were donated to the Smithsonian Institution, National Museum, Washington, D. C.

Because the CSA had no back plates, the Treasury Department quickly created these "bluebacks" which were used on the $5, $10, $10, $50, and $100 1864 notes.

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