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Seals, stamps and currency

For the Confederate States made by Julius B. Baumgarten.

[In a special article from the Washington correspondent of the New York Sun dated June, 1905, on the ‘Seal Maker for the Confederacy’ it was stated that Herman Baumgarten, whose death had been announced, was the man who made all the seals for the Confederacy.

The article was extensively copied by the press, and elicited the correction, that it was an elder brother of the deceased, who rendered the valuable service, Julius B. Baumgarten, who, ‘hale and hearty at the age of three-score and ten,’ was still living in Washington, D. C., where he is engaged in business, and that he also made the first Confederate notes issued in Richmond, Virginia. This work was done at what was then No. 161 Main street.

In the spring of 1861, at the solicitation of Senator Judah P. Benjamin, he joined fortunes with the Confederacy. His interesting statement follows: [editor.]

“I first went to Montgomery, Ala., which was then the seat of Government,” said Mr. Baumgarten.

I was armed with letters of introduction to Alexander H. Stephens, who immediately offered me a good salary, which I declined, agreeing to do all the work—engraving—at a price to be set by myself. My offer was accepted and I at once set to work engraving the great seal.

While at Montgomery I practically completed engraving all the seals for the several departments of the government. I secured the services of two experienced engravers from New Orleans, but after working two weeks and earning $800 each they threw up their jobs and left. I had only worked six weeks when I sent for my wife and child, and I was able to put $2,200 in my wife's hands when she reached me.

When the seat of government was moved from Montgomery to Richmond I accompanied the officials, traveling on the special train. Immediately after reaching Richmond I set about establishing a plant, and soon had quite a shop. After finishing the seal I set about preparing to make designs for stamps and money on wood [189] plates. Eventually steel plates were obtained and beautiful specimens of the engraver's art were turned out, equaling the best work of the day.

Mr. Baumgarten ran the blockade in the closing days of the struggle. In the latter two years of the war the subject of erecting mints for the coinage of silver and gold was discussed, and Baumgarten was sent to England to make necessary arrangements for doing this. He was furnished with credentials to persons in England and drafts on the London fiscal agents of the Confederate States, amounting to more than £ 2,000,000 with which to purchase machinery.

He went from Richmond to Wilmington, where the start to run the blockade was to be made. Presenting his credentials to the officers in charge of the port, he was put abord a blockade runner due to get out at the first favorable opportunity.

After waiting an entire day, Mr. Baumgarten approached the Captain and asked the reason for the delay. The Captain handed him a pair of marine glasses and told him to take a look. The glasses revealed fourteen Yankee gunboats lying off the harbor in a semicircle.

“Do you think you'd try to get through that?” asked the Captain. ‘We can only go under the most favorable conditions, and I am ready, rather than be captured, to blow up the ship and all on board.’

The vessel had a cargo of cotton, and most of the bales were ranged upon the desks along the rails, fastened together with chains and forming a bulwark about the height of a man's, being a splendid protection against a cannon shot. Mr. Baumgarten was led to a spot immediately over the forecastle. There the Captain, lifting a tarpaulin which covered the desk, displayed to the astonished gaze of Mr. Baumgarten about six bushels of coarse gunpowder which the Captain said was to be used in ‘blowing everybody to hell if capture seemed inevitable.’

At midnight the blockade runner started. Bermuda was reached safely, but Mr. Baumgarten had to wait there two weeks to get a vessel to Liverpool and this delay proved disastrous to him in a financial way.

An uneventful voyage brought him to Liverpool and thence to London. There he presented his credentials and drafts, and sought to get down to business at once. The fiscal agent, however, [190] was out of funds, and handing him *p;200 in gold as pocket money, directed him to put up at the Queen Hotel, where all his expenses would be paid until news could be received from Richmond.

What the fiscal agent next heard from Richmond was the news of the downfall of the Confederacy. This left the fiscal agent and Mr. Baumgarten in the lurch, but Mr. Baumgarten was provided with a ticket to Paris and a letter of introduction to Mr. Slidell, then representing the Confederate Government at the French capital. Mr. Slidell took care of him until the President issued the amnesty proclamation, when he pulled out for home,

“I got here in time,” said Mr. Baumgarten, ‘to be arrested on an average of six times a day, and if I had arrived two weeks sooner I suppose I would have been torn to pieces.’

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