Civil Warrior of the Week #9: Irvin McDowell

"A General Whom Misfortune Pursued," says the NY Times.

Dickinson College’s House Divided site, which includes information about McDowell, is definitely worth a look.

Civil Warrior of the Week #8: ?

Who is this man?

Readers are encouraged to suggest who the subject of this portrait is (Civil War buffs are sure to know right away).

Also welcome are similar examples of jaunty deshabille in male portraiture.

Civil Warrior of the Week #1: Col. Rush C. Hawkins

The Magician of the Week feature goes on hiatus this week. But not to fear: a weekly dose of historic portraiture will still be available, and now we’re increasing the facial hair quotient considerably. Today marks the first of the “Civil Warrior of the Week” posts, and our first image, that of Rush C. Hawkins, offers not only the afore-promised facial hair, but a pretty nice hat too:

Even nicer than Hawkins’ hat: the collection of rare books and art he left to Brown University.

$$$

Included among the thousands of ephemeral items in our Harris Collection on the Civil War & Slavery (recently organized by Robin Alario—finding aid available as a pdf) is a folder with dozens of samples of Confederate currency. Some are issued by the Confederate States of America:

Some by individual states:

&

Some, like the first image and the one below, include cancellation marks:

According to The International Encyclopaedic Dictionary of Numismatics, a cancelled bill is a “note rendered worthless as money by having been officially overprinted, perforated, slit, or in some other way invalidated.” In this case, the triangular and circular cuts indicate that the bill has been cancelled.

But what about counterfeit bills? Fortunately our collection includes a copy of Heath’s Infallible Counterfeit Detector at Sight (Boston: Laban Heath, 1864 — 864.16 H437h SpecColl). Published contemporaneously with the bills above, Heath’s manual outlines various methods used to prevent counterfeits, including the designs produced with the “Geometrical Lathe,” which “Cannot be Successfully Imitated.” The fine engraved lines like those produced by this “wonderful and beautiful engine” were one of the foremost tools of the anti-counterfeit trade. Here’s an example from the reverse of a ten dollar note:

and a closeup detail:

 

Heath’s manual is well-illustrated, including, most dramatically, a print from a plate taken from actual counterfeiters:

For the purpose of more fully illustrating the difference between genuine and counterfeit engraving, we have at great trouble and expense obtained a counterfeit plate engraved by counterfeiters and taken from them at the time of their arrest. This plate is in the hands of the American Bank Note Company, from which these specimens are printed…

 

For more information, the Numismatic Bibliomania Society’s website includes a bibliography and other helpful resources.