As the Civil War entered its second full year, the Confederate government realized that it would need to address the need for a medium of exchange smaller than the $5.00 notes issued in the previous year. In April, 1862, the Confederate congress authorized the production and issuance of notes in $1.00 and $2.00 denominations Though rampant inflation continued to reduce the buying power and therefore the utility of these issues, notes of these denominations, as well a later 50 cent piece, were produced and distributed until the close of the war. The presently offered piece is an example of a $2.00 note from the first authorization. The central vignette features an allegorical scene that is generally identified as the personification of the South (the Confederacy) striking down the North (the Union). One of the figures (the North) lies prostrate on the ground, while the second figure (the South) strikes at it with a sword. A powerful bird appears between them, apparently struggling to extricate itself before being killed. This scene is actually an adaptation of the ancient Greek myth representing the rescue of the god Prometheus by the demi-god Herakles (Hercules). Prometheus was chained to a rock on Mount Caucasus where a vulture fed on his liver, and each day the liver would regenerate. He was eventually freed by Herakles. Southern engravers adapted this scene to suit their purpose, with the vulture becoming the bald eagle (a further representation of the Union). This vignette is flanked by medallions with the denomination boldly placed at the center. A financial obligation, printed above and below the vignette, states that “SIX MONTHS AFTER THE RATIFICATION OF A TREATY OF PEACE BETWEEN THE CONFEDERATE STATES AND THE UNITED STATES THE CONFEDERATE STATES OF AMERICA Will pay TWO DOLLARS to Bearer”, below which is a line for the serial number, the city name of “RICHMOND”, and the date “June 2, 1862”. The signatures of “E A Adams” and “M Godwin”, two women employed by the Confederate treasury to sign notes, appear near the bottom, neatly separated by a shield with the denomination inside. A small box can be found along the right border, with the notification that the note was “FUNDABLE IN EIGHT PER CENT STOCK OR BONDS OF THE CONFEDERATE STATES” printed within. The left margin is dominated by a portrait of Judah P. Benjamin (Confederate Attorney General, Secretary of War, and Secretary of State) at the upper left, with the denomination and a box containing the statement that the note was “RECEIVABLE IN PAYMENT OF ALL DUES EXCEPT EXPORT DUTIES” below. The name of the printer, “B. DUNCAN. COLUMBIA S.C.” appears vertically to the right of the box in the lower left corner. The back, as with many notes of this era, was left blank. The note measures approximately 2.75 x 6.20 inches and was printed in black ink on white paper, with the signatures and serial number added in period ink. This note is in great demand with collectors, principally due to the denomination, as well as the popularity of the allegorical vignette.
The presently offered note exhibits signs of moderate circulation, principally in the form of several significant creases and folds. These folds are especially obvious in the corners and along the top, though less obtrusive ones can be found throughout the piece. Numerous small pinholes are present, though these are virtually invisible until the note is held up to the light. Toning is noted across the entire surface, imparting to the note an off-white to beige tint. Upon close examination, numerous small foxing spots are apparent, though only a few are visible to the naked eye (this may be a result of improper preparation of the paper during production). The contrast is average for the issue, though the serial number has faded to a pale pink. The margins are quite tight, with the inner frame-line being compromised at both the lower left and lower right corners (these notes generally are encountered with little or no margins). Since notes of this denomination were heavily circulated during the war, attractive examples are somewhat difficult to locate. This piece, though presenting some condition issues, is quite eye-appealing and worthy of inclusion in an above average Confederate currency collection.