Even though South Carolina seceded from the Union on December 20, 1860, and the Confederate States of America (CSA) created its own post office department the following February, mail stamped with U.S. stamps traveled north and south until June of 1861. But by October of that year, the CSA began to issue its own stamps.
Unlike Union stamps, which were essentially high-quality prints taken from engraved plates, the first CSA stamps were simply lithographed. Between 1861 and 1865, 13 different stamps were issued and used. Some were printed by more than one printer in more than one color, and a 14th stamp depicting South Carolina’s John C. Calhoun was printed but never issued.
The first piece of CSA postage, issued on October 16, 1861, was a green, five-cent stamp bearing the bust of Jefferson Davis, president of the Confederacy. More than nine million of these stamps were printed by Hoyer & Ludwig of Richmond, Virginia. Less than a month later, the same printer produced 1.4-million ten-cent stamps featuring Thomas Jefferson—though dead since 1826, Jefferson was a Virginian and a slave owner, so the CSA claimed him as a son of the south.
By the spring of 1862, Hoyer & Ludwig had printed two-cent CSA stamps with Andrew Jackson on them, a five-cent blue Jefferson Davis, and a rose-colored version of the 10-cent Thomas Jefferson. In July of 1862, a new printer, J.T. Paterson and Co. of Augusta, Georgia, issued 4.6-million additional Thomas Jefferson stamps, which can be difficult to distinguish from the ones lithographed by Hoyer & Ludwig.
That same spring, the Confederacy went abroad to get some of its printing done, hiring De La Rue & Co. of London to print 12 million five-cent Jefferson Davis stamps by means of typography. Engraved stamps were finally issued in April of 1863 by Archer & Daly, another Richmond printer. Andrew Jackson got a two-cent stamp but Jefferson Davis was placed on the three different types of 10-cent stamps, while George Washington was placed on a 20-cent stamp.
As for that 14th stamp, only 400,000 were printed by De La Rue & Co., but these one-cent John C. Calhouns were never issued—by the time they were delivered from England, the two-cent stamp had been declared the Confederacy’s smallest denomination.