Basics of Confederate Collecting
Much of the history of that short-lived political experiment, the Confederate States of America, was reflected in its stamps, covers, and other postal mementos. The bitter Civil War spanned the entire life of the Confederacy -- the four years from 1861 to 1865 -- and the marks and record of that great struggle are nowhere found more clearly than in the postal history of the "Lost Cause." All collectors of Confederate stamps come to realize this very early in their pursuit, and this fact has much to do with the fascination that the Confederate collector invariably experiences.
There are hundreds of varieties of stampless, Handstamp Paid and Manuscript covers as well as Provisional adhesive stamps and envelopes used before the Confederate government could issue regular stamps.
There are 17 major varieties of regular issue Confederate States stamps -- also minor varieties and endless shades. There are Prisoner-of-War and Flag-of-Truce covers, Express Company markings, Blockade-Run covers to and from Europe, College covers, Official and Semi-Official envelopes, Packet and Steamboat covers, Patriotic covers with their war mottos, covers showing use of United States stamps in the Confederacy, and many interesting letters.
Nowhere else in philately can one find such strange usages, makeshifts and evidences of desperate shortages. There are envelopes made of wallpaper, envelopes used twice over, and United States stamped envelopes seized and overprinted for the use of the Confederacy.
Today Confederate items are almost 150 years old. Some are scarce and hard to find, but many are within reach of all.
More has been written about Confederate stamps and covers -- and still is being written -- than nearly any other specialized field.
Check out these resources:
You might also want to visit the Civil War Postal History Articles and Resources section of Trish Kaufmann's site. It contains an archive of her monthly columns in three different magazines as well as links to other sources. An excellent introductin to Confederate philately is entitled "The REBEL POST: Collecting the Confederate Era." The Confederate Stamp Primer Online is a basic guide for those who don't have access to classic philatelic literature on the subject or for those who do but would like a quick online reference. You may view just the section in which you are interested or read it systematically from one page to the next. This primer deals only with stamps and not the vast area of postal history covered by The Rebel Post. A section called "Trouble Spots" is being added one treatise at a time to cover such common problems as identifying CSA 11 from CSA 12, London print from Local print, altered plate reprints and more.
Trish Kaufmann's site also includes The Madison, Florida Postmaster Provisionals - Anatomy of a Postal History Research Project