France 1755-9 ecu
This specimen is from the Rennes mint.
Après nous, le déluge.—Louis XV (1710-1774).
According to legend, Louis is alleged to have quipped, “After us, the flood,” predicting the collapse of the regime after his death. He was more likely expressing despair at his many defeats at the hands of Frederick the Great.
The long reign of Louis XV (1715-74) saw many coin types come and go. The first part of the reign, while Louis was a child, was a period of monetary confusion and manipulation. The reforms of Cardinal Fleury (1726) stabilized the fiscal situation until the total collapse at the eve of the French Revolution. Numismatically, this period can be divided into three epochs, marked by the écu aux branches d’olivier (1726-40), the écu au bandeau (1740-72) and the écu à la vielle tête (1770-74). This specimen belongs to the middle period.
The écu au bandeau.
The iconic coin of the period is the écu, struck in large numbers at twenty-nine mints. Clairand estimates 195 million were struck 1726-74, a number which must rival the production of pesos in Spanish American mints. Its divisions were the ½, 1/5, 1/10 and 1/20 écu, struck in modest quantities. The écu was worth $1.10 in the USA before the Civil War.
The écu au bandeau is the most popular coin of the ancien regime among collectors. Alhéritière and Deswelle reported 575 dates for this type in 2004; three more have been published since. An additional 215 dates may exist; records show they were minted but no one has found one. Four dates are known which the archives state should not exist. Of these only two dozen or so are classed as common (20 or more examples known), while 481 dates are known from five or fewer examples. The 1755-9 is noted as common along with several other dates of the 1750's. The mint closed in 1771 along with along with Caen ("C"), Bourges ("Y"), Grenoble ("Z"), Tours ("E") and Poitiers ("G").
Recorded mintage: 102,920 (common).
- Obverse: LUD.XV.D.G.FR ET NAV. REX. (for Pau, NA.RE. BD), king’s head left, hair tied with a ribbon;
- reverse: SIT NOMEN DOMINI BENEDICTUM (date), oval shield of France, crowned, between two olive branches tied with ribbon, mintmark below; edge lettered DOMINE SALVUM FAC REGEM.
- composition: silver, 11 deniers (.917 fine), 8.3 pieces to the mark (29.488 g), face value 6 livres, 39 mm diameter. Engraved by Joseph-Charles Roettiers.
Catalog reference: Dr/4 no. 820, Dr/2 no. 584, KM 512.27, Dav-1331.
- Alhéritière, Edouard, and Ludovic Deswelle, "Les écus de Louis XV de bandeau: point de situation," Numismatique et Change, No. 349 [Mai 2004], pp. 61-63.
- Clairand, Armand, Monnaies de Louis XV, Le temps de la Stabilité Monetaire, 1726-1774, Paris: Maison Platt, 1996.
- Droulers, Frédéric, Répertoire General des Monnaies de Louis XIII à Louis XVI (1610-1792), 2nd édition. Paris: AFPN, 1998.
- Duplessy, Jean, Les Monnaies Françaises Royales de Hugues Capet à Louis XVI (987-1793), Tome II, 2e édition, Paris: Maison Platt, 1999.
- Michael, Thomas, Standard Catalog of World Coins, 1701-1800, 7th ed., Iola, WI: Krause Publications, 2016.
- Davenport, John S., European Crowns, 1700-1800, 2nd Ed., London: Spink & Son, 1964.