A hoard of more than 80,000 Confederate bonds dating from the Civil War have turned up in a London warehouse, where investors stashed them for decades waiting for some government to redeem them.
But after the Confederacy fell in 1865, nobody would pay off the Rebels' debt.The bonds are in denominations from $50 to $1,000. One sent to the Deseret News by the Heritage Rare Coin Galleries, which purchased them in an auction, was in remarkably fine condition.
"We saw this as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to rescue an important piece of American history," said Mike Sherman, a vice president at Heritage, based in Dallas.
The bonds, once worth $60 million, were issued from 1861 through 1864 to finance the Rebels' war effort. They range in size from 8 inches by 10 inches, to 17 inches by 28 inches.
When the Rebel armies surrendered in April 1865, European investors hoped the United States would redeem the certificates. But the federal government refused to honor war obligations of its enemies.
Bondholders, believing that sooner or later the federal government or the individual states from the Confederacy would redeem the bonds, stashed them away.
As late as 1876, the bonds sold at 2 percent of face value. But in the 1880s, when it was obvious they would never be redeemed, they were stored in a London warehouse.
They remained there for nearly 100 years, undisturbed and largely forgotten, said Heritage officials.
Anyone interested in purchasing one of the bonds may call Heritage toll-free at 1-(800) 872-6467.