Domestic Economy in the Confederacy
Paper and Ink

From an 1886 Atlantic Monthly article by David Dodge

            Confederate stationery was a thing no less unique and characteristic than the other products of the time. The writing-paper, of a dingy salmon color, rough and furzy, was ruled with heavy, glaring blue lines, doubtless on the principle that the plainness of the landmarks should be in proportion to the difficulty of the way. But with this paper, such as it was, at $10 a quire, and envelopes in proportion, it was resorted to only after every available bit of paper, every page of old account- books, whether already written on one side or not, and even the fly-leaves of printed volumes had been ferreted out and exhausted. Envelopes were made of scraps of wall-paper and from the pictorial pages of old books, — the white side out, stuck together in some cases with the gum that exudes from peach- trees. Ink had almost as many substitutes as coffee, and with nearly as great a variety of results. Sumac-berries, poke-berries, “oak balls,” and green persimmons set with rusty nails were oftenest used in concocting the fluids with which we blotted paper. We found that black-gum roots made fair corks. One of the very few things, if not the sole thing, that could be achieved with a dime was to post a letter. The ten- cent stamps, which were small and blue, bore a profile to all appearances a compromise between those of the rival Presidents.


Dodge, David; “Domestic Economy in the Confederacy,” The Atlantic Monthly,  Volume 58, Issue 346; pp. 229-243; August 1886; Boston: Atlantic Monthly Co.

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