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Home ▸ Catalog ▸ |Medieval & Modern Coins| ▸ |France||View Options:  |  |  |   

Coins of France

During the Iron Age, what is now metropolitan France was inhabited by the Gauls, a Celtic people. Rome annexed the area in 51 B.C., holding it until the arrival of Germanic Franks in 476, who formed the Kingdom of Francia. The Treaty of Verdun of 843 partitioned Francia into East Francia, Middle Francia and West Francia. West Francia, which became the Kingdom of France in 987, emerged as a major European power in the Middle Ages under King Philip Augustus. During the Renaissance, French culture flourished and a global colonial empire was established, which by the 20th century would become the second largest in the world. The 16th century was dominated by religious civil wars between Catholics and Protestants (Huguenots). France became Europe's dominant cultural, political, and military power in the 17th century under Louis XIV. In the late 18th century, the French Revolution overthrew the absolute monarchy, establishing one of modern history's earliest republics and drafting the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen, which expresses the nation's ideals to this day. In the 19th century, Napoleon took power and established the First French Empire. His subsequent Napoleonic Wars (1803?15) shaped the course of continental Europe. Following the collapse of the Empire, France endured a tumultuous succession of governments culminating with the establishment of the French Third Republic in 1870. France was a major participant in World War I, from which it emerged victorious, and was one of the Allies in World War II, but came under occupation by the Axis powers in 1940. Following liberation in 1944, a Fourth Republic was established and later dissolved in the course of the Algerian War. The Fifth Republic, led by Charles de Gaulle, was formed in 1958 and remains today. Algeria and nearly all the other colonies became independent in the 1960s, with most retaining close economic and military connections with France.

Anglo-Gallic, Henry VI de Lancastre, King of France and England, 1422 - 1453, The Annunciation

|France|, |Anglo-Gallic,| |Henry| |VI| |de| |Lancastre,| |King| |of| |France| |and| |England,| |1422| |-| |1453,| |The| |Annunciation||Salut| |D'or|
The obverse depicts the Annunciation, the announcement by the angel Gabriel to the Virgin Mary that she would be the mother of Jesus, the Son of God, marking his Incarnation.

This coin was struck at Dijon, a rare mint for the issue, which was minted in nine cities across France.

In 1422, the year old king of England inherited the French throne from his mad grandfather Charles VI of France; the iconography of this type represents the unification of the two nations. Ten years later Joan of Arc would make an appearance which would eventually loosen the English grip on France until by 1436 only Normandy and part of Maine remained in Henry's control.
SH79998. Gold Salut D'or, Schneider 102, Elias 268c, Duplessy 443, Lafaurie 447, gVF, weight 3.468 g, maximum diameter 27.4 mm, die axis 0o, Dijon mint, 2nd issue, 6 Sep 1423 - 1436; obverse vernicle, hENRICVS: DEI: GRA: FRACORV: AGLI: REX (Henry, by the grace of God, King of the Franks and English), double saltire stops, Virgin Mary, behind Arms of France, facing Angel Gabriel in profile left behind quartered Arms of France and England, light of God above AVE downward on scroll between them, within beaded circle; reverse vernicle, XPC'*VIHCIT'*XPC'*REGNAT'*XPC'*ImPERAT'* (Christ conquers, Christ reigns, Christ commands), mullet stops, central Latin cross, fleur de lis to left, lion to right, h below, all within tressure of ten arcs, fleur de lis on cusps, all within linear and beaded circle; this is a legend variety where Z is absent after FRACORV; very rare; SOLD


France, Charles V the Wise, 1364 - 1380

|France|, |France,| |Charles| |V| |the| |Wise,| |1364| |-| |1380||franc| |à| |pied|
As a young prince, Charles V the Wise received the province of Dauphiné to rule; thereafter, all heirs apparent of France bore the title of Dauphin until coronation. Charles became regent of France when his father John II was captured by the English at the Battle of Poitiers. The nobility rebelled after he raised taxes to pay the ransom. Charles overcame the rebellions, but to liberate his father, he had to conclude the Treaty of Brétigny in 1360, in which he abandoned large portions of south-western France to England and promised a huge ransom. After Charles became king, his skillful management allowed him to replenish the treasury and restore the prestige of the House of Valois. He established the first permanent army paid with regular wages, which liberated the French populace from the companies of routiers who plundered the country when not employed. The French Army turned the tide of the Hundred Years' War, reconquering almost all the territories ceded to the English in 1360. He was succeeded by his son Charles VI the Mad, whose disastrous reign allowed the English to regain control of large parts of France.

On April 20, 1365, it was decreed in the name of the king Charles V the manufacture of the new gold francs known as francs à pied (franc on foot) with the value of twenty sols tournois (one livre tournois). This coin, lighter than the franc à cheval (franc on horseback), weighed 3.824 grams and was struck to the standard of 64 pieces to the gold mark.
SH84617. Gold franc à pied, Duplessy 360, Ciani 457, Lafaurie 371, Friedberg 284, aEF, excellent centering, die wear, bumps and scratches, weight 3.823 g, maximum diameter 28.9 mm, die axis 270o, no date, after 20 April 1365; obverse + KAROLVS x DI x GR - FRAnCORV x REX (Charles, by the grace of God, king of the Franks), crowned king standing facing under Gothic dais, wearing a coat of arms fleur-de-lis over coat of mail, sword in right hand, hand of justice scepter in left hand, pattern of small fleurs-de-lis in fields; reverse + XPC * VInCIT * XPC * REGnAT * XPC * IMPERAT (Christ conquers, Christ reigns, Christ commands), cross fleurée quatrilobe at center, fleur-de-lis in 1st and 4th quarters, crown in 2nd and 3rd quarters, all within quadrilobe, fleurs-de-lis in spandrels; SOLD


France, Louis XVI, 10 May 1774 - 4 September 1791 A.D.

|France|, |France,| |Louis| |XVI,| |10| |May| |1774| |-| |4| |September| |1791| |A.D.||louis| |d'or|
Louis XVI, born Louis-Auguste, was the last King of France and Navarre before the French Revolution; during which he was also known as Louis Capet. In 1765, at the death of his father, Louis, Dauphin of France, son and heir apparent of Louis XV of France, Louis-Auguste became the new Dauphin. Upon his grandfather's death on 10 May 1774, he became King of France and Navarre, which he remained until 4 September 1791, when he received the title of King of the French until his suspension on 10 August 1792. Louis XVI was guillotined on 21 January 1793.

The Louis d'or (20 francs) under Louis XVI was minted between 1785 and 1792 and had a dimension of 23 mm, and a weight of 7.6490 g, a fineness of 0.917, and gold content of 0.2255 troy oz.
SH84615. Gold louis d'or, Duplessy 1707, Ciani 2183, Gadoury 361, SCWC KM 591.5, Friedberg 475, Choice EF, mint luster, light marks, weight 7.663 g, maximum diameter 24.3 mm, die axis 180o, Lyon mint, 1786, 1st issue; obverse LUD. XVI. D. G. FR. - ET NAV. REX (LVDOVICVS XIII DEI GRATIA FRANCIAE ET NAVARRAE REX "Louis XIII by the grace of God king of France and of Navarre"), head of Louis XVI left, DUVIV (engraver B. Duvivier) on truncation, bee (sign of the mintmaster Jean-Claude Gabet) below; reverse CHRS. REGN. VINC. IMPER 1786 (CHRISTVS REGNAT VINCIT IMPERAT "Christ reigns, conquers and commands"), crowned arms of France and Navarre, D (Lyon mintmark) below, eagle head left (symbol of engraver Jean Humbert Bernavon) before date; SOLD


France, Louis XVI, 10 May 1774 - 4 September 1791 A.D.

|France|, |France,| |Louis| |XVI,| |10| |May| |1774| |-| |4| |September| |1791| |A.D.||louis| |d'or|
Louis XVI, born Louis-Auguste, was the last King of France and Navarre before the French Revolution; during which he was also known as Louis Capet. In 1765, at the death of his father, Louis, Dauphin of France, son and heir apparent of Louis XV of France, Louis-Auguste became the new Dauphin. Upon his grandfather's death on 10 May 1774, he became King of France and Navarre, which he remained until 4 September 1791, when he received the title of King of the French until his suspension on 10 August 1792. Louis XVI was guillotined on 21 January 1793.

The Louis d'or (20 francs) under Louis XVI was minted between 1785 and 1792 and had a dimension of 23 mm, and a weight of 7.6490 g, a fineness of 0.917, and gold content of 0.2255 troy oz.
SH85376. Gold louis d'or, Duplessy 1707, Ciani 2183, Gadoury 361, SCWC KM 591.1, Friedberg 475, gVF, luster, light marks and scratches, flan adjustment marks on reverse, weight 7.564 g, maximum diameter 23.6 mm, die axis 180o, Paris mint, 1786; obverse LUD. XVI. D. G. FR. - ET NAV. REX (LVDOVICVS XIII DEI GRATIA FRANCIAE ET NAVARRAE REX - Louis XIII by the grace of God king of France and of Navarre), head of Louis XVI left, DUVIV (engraver B. Duvivier) on truncation, heron standing left (sign of the mintmaster Jean Dupeyron de la Cosre) below; reverse CHRS. REGN. VINC. IMPER 1786 (CHRISTVS REGNAT VINCIT IMPERAT - Christ reigns, conquers and commands), crowned arms of France and Navarre, A (Paris mintmark) below, lyre (symbol of mint official F. Bernier) before date; SOLD


Charles X, Cardinal of Bourbon, 1589 - 1590

|France|, |Charles| |X,| |Cardinal| |of| |Bourbon,| |1589| |-| |1590||ecu| |d'or|
A French cardinal, the Catholic League considered him the rightful King of France after the death of Henry III of France in 1589. His claim was recognized as part of the secret Treaty of Joinville concluded between Philip II of Spain and the League. Henry III had Charles imprisoned in the castle of Blois on December 23 1588. He was transferred from one castle to another, presumably to prevent escape, until his death in May 1590.
SH94150. Gold ecu d'or, Duplessy 1172, Ciani 1481, Lafaurie 1015, Friedberg 389, gVF, tight flan, light marks, double strike, small edge cracks, weight 3.294 g, maximum diameter 24.3 mm, die axis 135o, Paris mint, 1593 A; obverse CAROLVS•X•D•G•FRANCOR•REX (mm: arrowhead) 1593 (Charles X, by the grace of God, king of the Franks), legend divided by sun at the top, crowned arms of France (three lis), A below; reverse + CHRISTVS•REGNAT•VINCIT:ET•IMPERAT (Christ reigns, conquers, and commands), cross fleurée, quadrilobe flower at the center, arms ending in lis; very rare; SOLD


France, Louis XII, 8 April 1498 - 31 December 1514

|France|, |France,| |Louis| |XII,| |8| |April| |1498| |-| |31| |December| |1514||Ecu|
To marry Anne of Brittany and absorb Brittany into France, Louis claimed his wife Joan of France was physically malformed and unable to consummate the marriage. Joan produced witnesses to Louis' boast of having "mounted my wife three or four times during the night." In a decision predetermined by politics, the marriage was annulled. After Anne died, Louis married Mary Tudor, the sister of Henry VIII, King of England. Louis had no living sons; he was desperate to produce an heir. He died less than three months after he married Mary, reputedly worn out by bedchamber exertions.
SL54549. Gold Ecu, Duplessy 647, NGC XF 40, Saint Lô mint, obverse crown, LVDOVICVS : DEI : GRA : FRANCORVM : REX, crowned arms of France, sun above, pellet mint mark at 19th position on inner border; reverse crown, XPS : VINCIT : XPS : REGNAT : XPS : IMPERAT, cross fleurée (arms ending in lis) with pellet inside quatrafoil in the center, pellet mint mark at 19th position on inner border; SOLD


France, Consulat, Napoleon Bonaparte, First Consul, 1799 - 1804

|France|, |France,| |Consulat,| |Napoleon| |Bonaparte,| |First| |Consul,| |1799| |-| |1804||40| |Francs|
On November 10, 1799, Napoleon led a bloodless coup forcing the Directors to resign and abolish the constitution that established the French Directorate. Under the new constitution, the real power was held by the First Consul, Napoleon himself. While not declaring himself sole ruler, it was in reality a military dictatorship. The unpretentious bare-headed depiction of Napoleon on this coin seems to be modeled on the bare-headed depictions of Octavian struck after he had crushed his opponents at the Battle of Actium. Just as Octavian would soon become Augustus, Napoleon would soon become Emperor. Napoleon would rule as Emperor of the French from 1804 until 1814 and again briefly in 1815 during the Hundred Days.
WO95137. Gold 40 Francs, Gadoury 1080 (variety: XIA without olive), SCWC KM 652, Friedberg 479, aEF, light contact marks; 0.900 fine gold; edge lettering: * DIEU PROTEGE LA FRANCE (God protects France), weight 12.860 g, maximum diameter 25.9 mm, die axis 180o, Paris mint, 18 Apr 1803 - 1804 A.D.; obverse BONAPARTE PREMIER CONSUL., bare head left, mint masters mark (Tiolier) below; reverse REPUBLIQUE FRANCAISE. (clockwise above); .rooster. AN IX. .A. (counterclockwise below), 40 FRANCS., in wreath tied at the bottom with a ribbon; SOLD


France, King Louis Philippe, 1830 - 1848

|France|, |France,| |King| |Louis| |Philippe,| |1830| |-| |1848||40| |Francs|
Louis Philippe I was King from 1830 to 1848. As Duke of Chartres he distinguished himself during the Revolution but broke with the Republic over the execution of King Louis XVI. He fled to Switzerland in 1793 after being connected with a plot to restore the monarchy. He remained in exile for 21 years. He was proclaimed king after his cousin Charles X was forced to abdicate. He was dominated by wealthy industrialists and bankers and followed conservative policies. He promoted friendship with Britain and sponsored colonial expansion, including French conquest of Algeria. His popularity faded as the economy deteriorated in 1847. He was forced to abdicate by the French Revolution of 1848. He lived out his life in exile in the UK.
SH94140. Gold 40 Francs, SCWC KM 747.1, Friedberg 557, EF, bumps and marks, edge lettering: DIEU PROTEGE LA FRANCE (God protects France), weight 12.840 g, maximum diameter 26.1 mm, die axis 180o, Paris mint, 1834; obverse LOUIS PHILIPPE I ROI DES FRANCAIS, head left wearing oak wreath, small DOMARD. F (engraver) below; reverse 40 FRANCS 1834 (in 3 lines) within wreath comprised of an olive branch on the right, a laurel branch on the left, tiny anchor lower left, tiny star below, tiny a lower right; SOLD


France, Louis XIV the Sun King, 1643 - 1715

|France|, |France,| |Louis| |XIV| |the| |Sun| |King,| |1643| |-| |1715||demi| |ecu| |de| |Flandre|
Under Louis XIV, the Sun King, France reached the apogee of its power. His reign began at age four and lasted seventy-two years, three months, and eighteen days; one of the longest of any European monarch. He fought three major wars: the Franco-Dutch War, the War of the League of Augsburg, and the War of the Spanish Succession. Louis converted a hunting lodge into the spectacular Palace of Versailles, and by compelling the noble elite to inhabit his lavish palace, he pacified the aristocracy and eliminated the remnants of feudalism. He consolidated a system of absolute monarchical rule in France that endured until the French Revolution.
WO95140. Silver demi ecu de Flandre, Duplessy 1510, Gadoury 182 (1686IL), Ciani 1885, SCWC KM 262.2, aVF, dark toning, scratches, small edge flaw on reverse; edge lettering: DOMINE SALVUM FAC REGEM CHRISTIANISSIMVM (Lord, save our most Christian king), weight 18.319 g, maximum diameter 36.7 mm, die axis 180o, Lille mint, 1686; obverse LVD?XIIII?D?G (sun) FR ET?NAV REX (Louis XIV, by the grace of God, King of France and Navarre), draped bust right, wearing large long wig; reverse BENEDICTVM 1686 + SIT?NOMEN?DOMINI IL (Blessed be the name of the Lord, divided by date and IL mintmark), crowned quartered shield of France, New and Old Burgundy; ex Gordon Andreas Singer; rare; SOLD


France, Charles X, 1824 - 1830

|France|, |France,| |Charles| |X,| |1824| |-| |1830||40| |Francs|
For most of his life Charles X was known as the Count of Artois (in French, comte d'Artois). An uncle of the uncrowned Louis XVII, and younger brother to reigning kings Louis XVI and Louis XVIII, he supported the latter in exile and eventually succeeded him. His rule of almost six years ended in the July Revolution of 1830, with his abdication and the election of Louis Philippe I as King. Exiled once again, Charles died in 1836 in Gorizia, then part of the Austrian Empire. He was the last of the French rulers from the senior branch of the House of Bourbon.
SH86157. Gold 40 Francs, Gadoury 1105, Friedberg 547, SCWC KM 721.1, Schlumberger Gold 170, EF, light bumps and marks; incuse on edge: DOMINE SALVUM FAC REGEM (Lord save the King), weight 12.867 g, maximum diameter 26.1 mm, die axis 180o, Paris (A) mint, 1830; obverse CHARLES X ROI DE FRANCE., bare head right, MICHAUT. (engraver Auguste-Francois Michaut) over italic T below; reverse crowned shield of France, flanked by 40 - F, all surrounded by a laurel wreath formed of two branches tied at the bottom, 1830 below flanked by an anchor on left and A (Paris mintmark) on right; SOLD




  




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REFERENCES|

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