Currency of France

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from the Mountain Groan Collection

The first note was issued by the French Republic some time in 1793. Like most assignats, it is printed on one side only. Assignats were so-called because property confiscated from the Church and from émigrés was assigned to back the notes. This may have been plausible in 1790, when issue began, but by 1793, three years of wartime inflation had turned assignats into fiat money despised even by the politicians who forced its acceptance on a reluctant populace. Six livres = one écu, but this paper note was depreciated to less than a third of its value in bullion.

five thousand francs

photo courtesy Ponterio and Associates
photo courtesy Ponterio and Associates

The second specimen was lot 2482 in Ponterio sale 158 (New York, January 2011), where it sold for $632.50. The catalog description[2] noted, "FRANCE. Banque De France. 5,000 Francs, 6.3.1958. P-135a. An always popular higher denomination which shows with Henery IV at center. Original paper and light circulation. Extremely Fine." In 1959, the Nouveau Franc was introduced and this note would have been worth 50 Nouveaux Francs.


  • [2]Ponterio, Richard, and Kent Ponterio, Ponterio sale 158: The 2011 N.Y.I.N.C. Auction, Irvine: Bowers and Merena, 2010.

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