Now, it’s important to note that [Philadelphia printer Samuel Upham wasn’t making] counterfeit money: Upham was careful to print “Facsimile Confederate Note,” along with his name and address, at the bottom of each one. You know, right where it could easily be trimmed off, making the bill virtually indistinguishable from the real thing.
Before long, Upham was offering them countrywide via mail order — he even expanded his product line to offer pretty much any denomination a collector might fancy. His reproductions were so good that some unscrupulous fellows could have waltzed right into the South and used them to purchase whatever the hell they wanted … which, of course, is precisely the type of thing that unscrupulous fellows did. It’s estimated that Upham singlehandedly produced $15 million in fake Confederate cash — about 3 percent of the entire Southern economy.
Of course, you can’t run a counterfeiting operation of that size without attracting the attention of the Feds, and Upham soon found himself under the scrutiny of the U.S. government. Presumably after nervously sweating in the foyer for a few hours, trying to figure out if he could kill himself with a fountain pen before the Union could prosecute him, Upham finally came face to face with the secretary of war, Edwin Stanton … who allegedly simply tossed him a supply of authentic Confederate banknote paper.
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