Belgian Congo 1887 franc
This specimen was lot 70207 in Stack's Bowers Collector's Choice sale (Santa Ana, CA, May 2018), where it sold for $576. The catalog description noted, "BELGIAN CONGO. Franc, 1887. PCGS MS-66. First year of issue with mintage of only 20,000. Only two graded higher at PCGS, one at NGC. Razor sharp strike and beautiful iridescent orange-yellow tone with aqua in the peripheries. A superb gem that will please even the most discriminating collector."
The history of the Congo has long been unhappy. The region was claimed by Leopold III of Belgium in the 1880's as his private domain, ostensibly to end the slave trade which had long afflicted the area. Instead, he instituted a reign of terror as natives were massacred if they failed to yield their assigned quota of rubber and ivory. Finally, after a world outcry, the government of Belgium annexed the area in 1908 and ended the most abusive practices. Still, few wept when the colonizers withdrew in 1960. Violence and exploitation continue to this day, fulfilling white racists' worst stereotypes about "darkest Africa."
Recorded mintage: 20,000 plus proofs (lowest mintage date). Not rare is circulated condition.
Specification: 5 g, .835 fine silver.
Catalog reference: KM-6.
- Michael, Thomas, and Tracy L. Schmidt, Standard Catalog of World Coins, 1801-1900, 9th ed., Iola, WI: Krause Publications, 2019.
- Ponterio, Richard, Kyle Ponterio and Chris Chatigny, The August 2017 Denver ANA Auction: Ancients, Selections from The Richard Stuart Collection & World Coins, Santa Ana, CA: Stack's Bowers LLC, 2017.