Last summer, I watched a reenactment of a famous Civil War battle.

For me, the most interesting part of the day was walking around the tent communities, looking at all the Civil War memorabilia. One “General” had many examples of Civil War currency, printed and minted by a variety of different people.

Today, it’s illegal to use “alternative” money — that is, coins or dollars printed by anyone other than the U.S. Mint.

But a Liberty Dollar coin, made almost entirely of silver and backed by what its proponents say are stocks of silver and gold in a vault in Idaho, has been circulating for eight years. Its makers claim to have $20 million in coins in circulation.

The Justice department says using Liberty Dollars is a crime and last week it issued a rare warning that only the U.S. Mint can produce currency that is valid in the U.S.

It’s not the 1860s, folks.

With practical, informative consumer advice, I’m Ilyce Glink, News-Talk 750 WSB