France 1774-W ecu

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Jean Elsen sale 140, lot 726
This specimen was lot 726 in Jean Elsen sale 140 (Brussels, March 2019), where it sold for €90 (about US$120 including buyer's fees). The catalog description[1] noted,
"FRANCE, Royaume, Louis XV (1715-1774), AR écu à la vieille tête, 1774W, Lille. D/ T. l. à g. R/ Ecu de France couronné, entre deux rameaux d'olivier. Légère faiblesse de frappe. Fines traces d'ajustage. Très Beau. (kingdom of France, Louis XV, 1715-74, écu of the old head of 1774, Lille mint. Obverse: laureate head to left; reverse: crowned arms of France between two olive branches. Somewhat weakly struck, fine adjustment marks, Very Fine.)"
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, shown here). This type is notorious for bad strikes and heavy adjustment marks and most survivors have been harshly cleaned.

Recorded mintage: 387,942, priced about 30% higher[2] than the common date such as 1774-A or 1774-L.

Specification: 29.49 g, .917 fine silver, 39-42 mm diameter, edge lettered DOMINE SALVUM FAC REGEM; this specimen is 29,40 g.

Catalog reference: Dav-1332, KM 551.20; Dr/4 no. 821, Dr/2 no. 589, Dupl-1685; Gad-323.


  • Davenport, John S., European Crowns, 1700-1800, 2nd Ed., London: Spink & Son, 1964.
  • [2]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.
  • Gadoury, Victor, Monnaies Royales Françaises, 1610-1792, 4me éd., Monaco: Éditions Victor Gadoury, 2012.
  • Michael, Thomas, Standard Catalog of World Coins, 1701-1800, 7th ed., Iola, WI: Krause Publications, 2016.
  • [1]Elsen, Philippe, et al., Vente Publique 140, Brussels: Jean Elsen et ses Fils, S.A., 2019.

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