France 1762-Pau ecu
This specimen is an écu au bandeau of Louis XV struck in 1762 at the Pau mint. This specimen was lot 30423 in Stack's Bowers ANA auction (Chicago, August 2014), where it did not sell. The catalog description noted, "FRANCE. Ecu au Bandeau, 1762-(Cow). Louis XV (1715-74). NGC MS-61. Adjustment marks on the reverse. Lustrous and attractive."
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 1762-Pau is listed about 60% higher than the most common date (1765-Pau) but it is more common than most other mints for 1763.
Mints and Mintmarks.
Most of the mints were in small towns, operated to provide patronage for local politicians. In gold, Paris, Strasbourg, Lille and Pau were the most important; in silver, Bayonne, Paris, Pau, Aix and Rennes predominated. France has little bullion ore within its boundaries, so most of the silver came from melted foreign coin, especially Spanish. The gold to silver ratio in France was 14.5:1, favoring silver. As a remnant of its former position as the capital of the kingdom of Navarre, the Pau mint was permitted to use a slightly different obverse legend than the other mints. Hence its product is catalogued today as a separate subtype. Its écus and louis d’or are common, other denominations very rare.
Specifications for the Écu au bandeau.
- 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 Roéttiers.
Recorded mintage: 1,139,493 (a fairly common date).
Catalog reference: Dr/4 no. 820a, Dr/2 no. 584a, Gad-322, KM 518, Dav-A1331.
- 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.
- Ponterio, Richard, The August 2014 Chicago ANA Auction: Ancient Coins, World Coins & Paper Money, Featuring the David O'Harrow Collection, Irvine, CA: Stack's Bowers LLC, 2014.