France 1786-L ecu

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from the Mountain Groan Collection
France 1786L ecu rev 600.jpg

This specimen is an écu au buste habillé struck at the Bayonne mint, one of a type struck there for France 1775-91. 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 1786-L is listed[1] about 25% higher than the most common date (1789-A) but it is the commonest mint of 1786.

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.

Mintmarks:

  • 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.

Recorded mintage: 2,313,777[1], 2,314,000[2].

Catalog reference: Dav-1333, Dr/4 no. 883, Dr/2 no. 616, KM 564.9.

Sources:

  • [1]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.
  • 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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