Abraham Lincoln, an opponent of slavery was elected President of the United States of America on 6 November 1860, on 20 December South Carolina seceded from the Union in protest and were swiftly followed by Mississippi, Florida, Alabama, Georgia and Texas so before Lincoln had taken office in March 1861 a provisional government of the Confederate States of America had already been formed with Jefferson Davis as its President. Confederate guns fired on Fort Sumter (Charleston, South Carolina) marking the beginning of the American Civil War in April 1861 with Virginia, Arkansas, Tennessee and North Carolina joining the Confederate cause over the following few weeks.
Use of US stamps stopped almost immediately and Postmasters in over 40 towns and cities throughout the Confederate States were forced to issue their own provisional stamps and handstamps. Most of these 1861 Provisional issues are scarce or rare and we warn collectors to obtain them from trustworthy sources as forgeries abound.
In September 1861 the Confederate Government issued General Issue stamps depicting Jefferson Davies, Thomas Jefferson, Andrew Jackson, Washington and others. Some of these stamps are rare but unlike the Provisional stamps it is possible to build comprehensive collections of these atmospheric stamps as many are affordable and the changes in designs, printers and colours make it a very interesting area of philately.
The postal history of the Confederate States stamp period is also fascinating with covers bearing these stamps being highly desirable and interesting. The Scott and Stanley Gibbons listings are extremely good and we recommended them to anyone wishing to form a collection of these wonderful stamps.