The Hodgkinson & Co. Wookey Hole Mill watermark CSA notes are some of the rarest and interesting notes in the series. To actually see a complete collection of the "collectible" varieties of this watermark is a unique experience. There was one watermark per sheet of 8 notes making this watermark even rarer. Only a small number of reams was imported of which some were used for Virginia State currency. All of these notes are Rarity 9+ or better, meaning that there are less than 25 known of each. In most cases, there are less than 10 known of many of these notes making them true rarities in CSA currency.
This mill exists today and is in Britain about two miles from the town of Wells in Somerset. The Hodgkinson family sold the mill in the 1950s to the Inveresk which operated the mill as a museum of paper making. More recently, the Mill is privately owned.
The history of the mill is far longer than just the Hodgkinson years. In 1412 Thomas Wayfere and his wife Anderna leased a vacant plot in Wookey Hole to a Roger Wyx of Wells, presumably to build a house. In 1450 the mill was given to the Dean and Chapter to support the Wells Old Almshouses. For over 400 years the mill formed part of the Manor of Melsbury and Wookeyhole, with the Dean and Chapter acting as lord and trustees.
The year 1853 saw William Sampson Hodgkinson contact the trustees of Wells Old Almshouses regarding an outright purchase of the mill. The mill was dedicated only to paper and in a bad state of disrepair. A fire on April 20th 1855 saw much of the mill and dwellings disappear.
The new mill began work in 1858 with 4 vats, its construction being far more impressive than before. The main building now spanned the river and enlarged the operation considerably. In 1852 work had begun to build a new dam and sluice which would see the River Axe rise 5ft in the caves. At the same time a new higher mill leat was cut and banked along the east side of the ravine.
There was no Factory Act at this time dictating what hours should be worked. Employees at the mill were expected to work from 4 in the morning until 7 in the evening and on Saturdays until 2 oclock, there was no limit to the amount of work and little opportunity to clock off early. In spite of up-to-date machinery and the need to attain the highest quality paper the men were urged to produce the equivalent of 9 or 10 days per week.
It was at this time, in this relatively new building and under these working conditions, that paper used in some of the Confederate States currency was produced, though little of it made it through the blockade and into actual use.
Modern picture of the Mill taken by Dave Hudsmith.
Click on thumbnail to view larger picture.
This is a complete set all of the "collectible", meaning there are 3 examples in collectors' hands, Wookey Hole Mill notes that I am aware of. It also include a couple of non-collectible varieties includiing T-41 PF-29, T-50 PF-15 and T-26 PF-10 (may be unique - 1 confirmed).
Non-collectible - it's so hard to get one, that it's not reasonable to assume one for a complete "doable" set).
The other Wookey Hole Mill notes are all non-collectible as well (none, 1 or 2 known in collectors' hands) - T-34 PF-14 (none known), T-41 PF-19 (none known), and T-58 PF-11 (1 confirmed).
Of course, I'm looking for these others! Please call if you have one. I'll pay good money for them!
This watermark is like the rare mintmarks on coins, e.g., Charlotte or Carson City, and commands a premium with collectors. Even type collectors will add at least one of these to their collection as an neat addition. In any type collection, this could well be the rarest note and a conversation piece.
Better yet, this set of 13 rare notes was put together for about the cost of a VF or so T-3 or T-4 Montgomery which is much more common than any of these individually, much less the group together! This set was assembled from 2002 to 2005.
With recent appreciation and increased interest in notes on paper from Wookey Hole, this collection may require considerably more money than a T-3 or T-4 note (even in Choice Uncirculated). However, this is still cheap compared to equivalent numismatic rarities in other areas of coins and paper money!