Restorations & Republics

Louis 18th, Charles X, & Napoleon III

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Coin pix Coin comments Historical comments

5 Francs of Louis 18th 1814-K
1st or Military Bust type
 choice uncirculated
(Spink's auction: London,  ca 2000)

One reason why I love French coins is that it is possible to form a complete set of all their large silver crowns of the 19th century**, in uncirculated condition, 'relatively' inexpensively.

There are still some issues I am lacking from this page, these are ChasX 1st type, L.Phillipe 1st type, 2nd Rep Ceres, L.Napoleon Fr. Republic, 3rd Rep Ceres Head non-Paris

** those issues after 1810

Deus Meo!
My soldats have deserted me  !!!

 He said that just as all his soldiers deserted to join the newly arrived Napoleon Bonaparte.

Then they took his picture & used it to make this coin. 

 5 Francs of Louis 18th  1816-A
  2nd or non-military Bust type
select uncirculated

After Napoleon was defeated for the 2nd and final time at Waterloo, the Allies (Britian, Prussia, Russia) put Louis XVIII back on the Throne. These are the "Restoration Issues". A now much humbler Louis 18th apparently decides on a non-military portrait for the coinage.

5 Francs of Charles X  1825  (unc)
(Heritage auctions, ca 1996)

For some strange reason nobody ever gets excited about 5 francs of Charles X. Someone (maybe it was George Sobin) told me that a lot of Charles X coins were melted as right after him people found a way to extract residual amounts of gold from the coinn silver. Thus all the pre-1830 silver could be melted down and processed, the gold retained, and the silver sold back for it's cost.

I believe there was a minor stylistic change from the initial issue of 1824?

Charles X was a reactionary. This means that he was going back to the old absolute type monarchy. He was forced from power in (July? : the French always have their Revolutions in July) 1830.

5 Francs of Louis Philippe 1847 (unc)

This coin was struck late in his reign.

Known as "the Gentleman King", L. Phillipe tried to rule as a good gentleman rather than as a King.

5 Francs  2nd Republic 1849 (unc)
(Karl Stephens, CA, 1998?)


This is an example of a really neat type which is (or used to be) dirt cheap in choice unc.

There was a Revolution
Napoleon III and His Carnival Empire
by John Bierman 1988

Napoleon III

Napoleon III was elected President of the New Republic in 1852 after his 3rd attempt to gain power. Although he ruled autocratically he did a lot of things to modernize France. He was also fascinated by England and he & his wife, the empress Eugenie, visited Queen Victoria's court in 1855, he also visited the United States. However he was very susceptable to pursuasion by hiw wife who wanted to create a European Kingdom out of Mexico. Napoleon told his wife "I would like to... but it's impossible". No European power would risk a war with the US in America by violating the Monroe Doctrine. However in 1861 many European leaders believed that the South would win our Civil War. Thus France placed an Austrian Prince, Maximilian  over the Mexican Republic.

After 18 years Napoleon III was begining to return his powers back to the French parliment. However a diplomatic incident caused war to break out with Germany. While the armies were comparable in strength, the French mobilization was very disorganized and equipment and supplies could not reach the units. Also Nap III was very ill at the time and the generals under him were very disorganized. Thus the French Army was surrounded and defeated at Sedan in 1870.

10 Centemes  Napoleon III 1853 (unc)
(Karl Stephens, CA, 1998?)


This is an example of a type which I used to find worn flat in dealer's junk boxes for 50cents.  Also my Dad got one of these in change possibly when he was in the service which he gave me as one of my 1st foreign coins. 

This mint state specimen cost $31 in late 2004.

5 Francs  Napoleon III 1870 (unc)
(Karl Stephens, CA, 1998?)


This is an example of a really neat type which is (or used to be) dirt cheap in choice unc.

When I was a teenager I used to advertise to buy old coins. Someone called & they had one of these: an 1868, just about Exf, for which I paid $6. This was too much at the time but this coin type is really pretty. The dates from 1868-1870 are really really common.

20 francs  Napoleon III 1868 (unc)
(Karl Stephens, CA, 1998?)

At the time I bought this one, uncirculated French 20 franc gold coins from Napoleon III or the Republic were advertised in World Coin News for something like $129. This was little over the bullion value of the gold which was worth something around $500/oz. I bought this one from Karl Stephens as I wanted to make sure that I got an uncirculated one rather than risk getting a slider or an AU from one of those ads.

After losing at Sedan and being forced to leave France, Napoleon III stayed one night at a private residence on the border (need to verify). In recompense he gave the owner a pair of 5 franc gold pieces. Consequently I'm looking to buy a pair of those but haven't had much luck.

5 Francs  Napoleon IV 1874 (unc)

This coin was struck to suggest the possibility of having a Napoleon return to France. Possibly it is one of the last "Imperial French" types to have been issued. Even the Lawrence Stack collection (auctioned in Zurich, 2002) did not have a specimen. How about that Larry?

Louis Napoleon IV was the only son of Napoleon III and his empress. He went off to get military experience in a British colonial war (the Zululand War) but was killed in a skirmish in 1879. This coin was issued when he reached his majority of 18. Possibly, if he had survived, he would have become President, or Emperor of France?

5 Francs  Ceres Head 1870-A uncirculated
(my estimate ms-63)
(Stacks Auction, New York Intnl, Jan 2005)

These coins (without reverse legend) were struck then while the rest of the country struck a different type of 5 francs (with reverse legend).

The Paris Commune, just after the loss of the French Army at Sedan. The German Army surrounded Paris and placed it under seige. Since it was surrounded Paris couldn't coordinate their coin designs with the rest of the country. Thus this type, struck in Paris, is different from the other Ceres Heads, due to the missing reverse legend.

5 Francs  1873-A
Hercules group  uncirculated

I can't believe I couldn't have found a nicer one than this in 1989!!!

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