France 1776-W ecu

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Jean Elsen sale 104, lot 771
France 1776W ecu rev JElsen 104-771.jpg
This specimen is an écu au buste habillé struck at the Lille mint, one of a type struck there 1775-92. 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 buste habillé is the most popular coin of Louis XVI among collectors. The 1776-W is listed[1] about 20% higher than the most common date (1789-A) but it is a common mint for 1776. This specimen was lot 771 in Jean Elsen sale 104 (Brussels, March 2010). The catalog description noted,
"FRANCE ROYALE, Louis XVI (1774-1793), AR écu aux rameaux d'olivier, 1776 W, Lille. Droit : B. habillé à gauche, les cheveux noués par un ruban. Revers: Ecu de France couronné, entre deux rameaux d'olivier. Défaut du flan sur la tranche. Très Beau à Superbe" (silver écu with olive branches, 1776-W, Lille mint. Obverse: uniformed bust to left, hair tied with a ribbon. Reverse: crowned shield of France between two olive branches. Planchet defect at edge, Very Fine to Extremely Fine).

Mints and Mintmarks.

Most of the mints were in small towns, operated to provide patronage for local politicians. In silver, Bayonne, Paris and Pau 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.


  • A Paris
  • AA Metz
  • B Rouen
  • BB Strasbourg
  • D Lyon
  • H La Rochelle
  • I Limoges
  • K Bordeaux
  • L Bayonne
  • M Toulouse
  • MA Marseilles (opened 1787 to replace the Aix mint)
  • N Montpellier
  • Q Perpignan
  • R Orléans
  • T Nantes
  • W Lille
  • & Aix (closed 1786)
  • cow Pau

Specifications for the Écu au bandeau.

  • Obverse: LUD.XVI.D.G.FR ET NAV. REX. (for Pau, NA.RE. BD), king’s uniformed bust 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 Benjamin Duvivier. This specimen is 29.28 g.

Recorded mintage: 199,557[1], 369,000[2].

Catalog reference: Dav-1333, Dr/4 no. 883, Dr/2 no. 616, KM 564.1, Dupl-1708; Ci-2187; Gad-356.


  • [1]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.
  • [2]Michael, Thomas, Standard Catalog of World Coins, 1701-1800, 7th ed., Iola, WI: Krause Publications, 2016.

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