France 1763-Pau ecu

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from the Mountain Groan Collection
France 1763Pau ecu rev DSLR.jpg
the Pau mintmark, a cow

This specimen is an écu au bandeau of Louis XV struck in 1763 at the Pau 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 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[2] 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[1] 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 1763-Pau is listed[2] 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.

Mintmarks:

  • A Paris
  • AA Metz
  • B Rouen
  • BB Strasbourg
  • C Caen
  • CC Besancon
  • D Lyon
  • E Tours
  • G Poitiers
  • H La Rochelle
  • I Limoges
  • K Bordeaux
  • L Bayonne
  • M Toulouse
  • N Montpellier
  • O Riom
  • P Dijon
  • Q Perpignan
  • R Orléans
  • S Reims
  • T Nantes
  • V Troyes
  • W Lille
  • X Amiens
  • Y Bourges
  • Z Grenoble
  • 9 Rennes
  • & Aix
  • cow Pau

A cow as a mintmark?

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: 1,298,140.

Catalog reference: Dr/4 no. 820a, Dr/2 no. 584a, KM 518, Dav-A1331.

Sources:

  • [1]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.
  • [2]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), 4e édition. Paris: AFPN, 2009.
  • 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.

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