FRENCH COINS  Monarchial  

L' Ancien Regeime

Why collect French coins? France has one of the most varied and interesting coinages perhaps comparable only to Roman (but a lot cheaper). Large silver dollars (ecus from 1624-1793, and 5 francs from 1794-1878) span from the Monarchy of Louis 13th (1641), to Revolution, Convention and Directory, the Napoleonic era, back to Monarchy, 2nd Republic, Empire again and yet back to Republic. Also the designs are very beautiful and varied, depicting Kings during the Monarchy, and various Liberty types during the Revolutions and Republics

click on the coin image for a larger view that includes the obverse & reverse

  Go to the French Revolution page!

Coin Pix Coin comments Historical comments

Philip 6th, the bad,
reigned 1328? - 1350
struck January, 1348
gold moulton d'Or
uncirculated (NGC - 63)
(Heritage Auctions, April 15th, 2016, lot# 29853)

Coin type showing The King seated on His Throne. 3rd Emission, from 5 January 1348, Fr-270, Duplessy-249B. + PhILIPPVS 8 DЄI | o GRA o | FRAnCORVM 8 RЄX, King seated on Gothic throne, a sword in his right hand and his left supporting a shield

The Black Death, which killed 1/3 of Europe, made landfall in Venice in Nov. 1347 and spread through Europe in this year of 1348 A.D. The coin is sealed in a plastic capsule to prevent infection from the plague.

Well actually the plastic capsule or "slab" has nothing to do with the plague, and is done for grading and marketing purposes. However, I like to tell this to small children so as to scare them.

Jean le Bon,(the good)
r. 1360 - 1364
gold moulton d'Or

uncirculated (NGC - 62)
(Heritage Auctions, Chicago ANA, Aug 15th
2010, lot# 20836)

Coin type showing "The Lamb of God". No types with the King seated on his throne were issued at this time; perhaps a pious movement after the Black Death?

Jean II the Good (Jean le Bon).

France was not yet internally cohesive at this time and these gold coins were undoubtedly minted for military payments or possibly the ransom for French Kings who were always getting captured by the English. The average peasant in the 14th century never handled these. As such, certain types, such as these two, periodically appear on the market in mint condition.

Henri III, silver 1 franc 1585 nice ef
  a contemporary of Elizabeth I of England. France was pivotal to Spain's plan to invade England and so Philip II tried to use the Catholic League ? to overthrow Henri III and set up a Catholic government allied to him.

Louis XIV, the Sun King demi-ecu (half-ecu) 1647 ch. almost uncirculated
(Jim Elmond, World Wide Coins; Auction 2004)


An early portrait of Louis 14th on a half-ecu.

Louis 13th was the first one to start the French ecu (silver dollar) in 1642? but he died 2 years later. I have no coins of Louis 13th.

Louis 14th the Sun King tried to take over Europe during his very long reign. While sucessful early on much of his territorial aquisitions were lost after the battle of (XXXXX).  Still he made France one of the major powers in Europe.

Louis XIV, demi-ecu (half-ecu) 1693-A ms (NGC-63)

Even though this one is slabbed 63 it doesn't compare with the raw demi-ecu bought from J. Elmond's World Wide coin auction.

Maybe that's why Jim's stuff never sells cheaply?

A much later portrait of the long-lived Louis-14th, perhaps France's greatest King.

Louis XIV, the Sun King
silver ecu 1709-D
mint state (NGC-64)
Heritage Auction, Boston ANA,
Aug 15th, 2010, lot# 20859

1709-D (Lyons mint)
flan neuf

Ecus of Louis XIV are quite interesting as they often exemplify a currency revaluation known as "The Reformation". Ecus were periodically (every couple of years), recalled by the Royal Government and then simply overstamped with a new design and reissued at a higher rate of sols per ecu. Thus everybody possessing ecus had to turn them in by a certain date, was paid say 72 sols/ecu and then if they needed silver change, had to buy back the exact same coin (but overstruck) at say 80 sols/ecu. The payment was probably made in gold Louis d'ors.

This went on for many occasions and was effectively a Government tax on those holding circulating specie. If you didn't turn your silver coins in by the date, then they were no longer legal tender. This damaged the French economy severely and was halted around 1709. This coin is called a "flan neuf" or new flan which means that it was not a restrike.

Louis XV, 2 Louis d'or 1758-BB
Heritage Signature World Coin Auction, Sept., 2007, photo by Heritage

Louis XV, Bandeau Head
Double Louis D'Or
1758-BB (= Strasbourg mint) NGC-62

Go to the French Revolution page!

         French History Links