If you are in the process of cleaning out a home, either because it's time to empty out the attic or someone in your family has passed away, you're going to find some interesting things. Among those will be collections and random items that seem like they have some value at first. Confederate money is something that quite a few people seem to have stashed away, and if what you find is real, it could be worth a lot. But there's also a good chance it's counterfeit or a replica. Here's what you need to do if you find anything resembling money from the antebellum South.
Look for the Obvious
Some Confederate bills are official replicas meant to be souvenirs or historical gifts. These will have markings on them, such as the word "replica" in tiny print. Check along the borders on both sides to see if you can find that. Look carefully because it can be easy to miss.
Look for Signs It's Handmade
Technology, supply difficulties, and need led to authentic bills being handmade, at least partially. Look for oddly cut edges -- a sign the bill was cut by hand and not machine -- and faded ink. Real bills were usually printed on rice paper, though you can find other materials that were used. If the bill feels like a modern sheet of paper, it's not likely going to be real.
Look for Matching Colors
One of the hallmarks of real Confederate money was the use of iron gall ink to sign the note. The ink fades over time, and a gall ink signature that's many decades old will have faded to a brownish color. This can sometimes look almost black, but it should not be completely black. If the signature is the exact same color as the black ink on the rest of the note, you are likely holding a fake note.
If you're still unsure if the bill is fake or real, visit a coin appraisal company who also deals with paper currency. Not all coin appraisers will, but those who do tend to advertise the fact that they do. The appraiser might also have a list of known fake serial numbers -- these are often available online as well. A good appraiser will be able to point out what on the bill makes them think it's a fake, too. And if it is fake? Enjoy it as a historical replica.