The printing press that Hoyer & Ludwig used to print the first Confederate stamps and money has been consigned to auction from the collection of respected philatelist August Dietz (1869-1963).
The press is expected to see bids in the region of $20,000-30,000 when it crosses the block on April 25-28 in San Francisco, though its importance to US philately could result in a much higher sale price.
Hoyer and Ludwig were made responsible for printing the Confederacy's money and stamps after Confederate Postmaster General John H Reagan had trouble finding a firm capable of printing such large orders. The pair were both Germans, who had relocated to Richmond, Virginia in the 1840s.
Hoyer was a wealthy goldsmith who provided the capital for the operation, while Ludwig was a master printer and designer, responsible for the superb stamps we know today.
The hand-press is known as number three of the battery that the firm employed, though it is unknown exactly how many presses were in commission. An old-fashioned and simple machine, it is considered crude by modern standards, but it is the variations produced by this crude design that make Confederate stamps desirable to collectors today.
Until recently, the press was on display in the museum of The Dietz Printing Company, and has been in the hands of the Dietz family for around a century. It has been frequently loaned to important institutions over the years, including the Smithsonian Museum of American History.
August Dietz was made an apprentice of lithography with Hoyer & Ludwig in the early 1880s, and learned his art from those that had themselves directly learned from Charles Ludwig.