France 1790-MA ecu

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Sincona sale 26, lot 3067
This specimen was lot 3067 in Sincona sale 26 (Zurich, October 2015), where it sold for 425 CHF (about US$525 including buyer's fees). The catalog description[1] noted,
"FRANCE, Königreich, Louis XVI. 1774-1792 Ecu aux lauriers 1790. MA, Marseille. Sehr schön-vorzüglich. Lt. gereinigt (kingdom of France, Louis XVI, 1774-92, écu of the laurel wreath of 1790, Marseille mint. Cleaned, very fine to extremely fine.)"
This specimen is an écu au buste habillé struck at the Marseille mint, one of a type struck there 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 1790-MA is priced[1] about 80% more than the most common date (1789-A) but it is not rare.

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. This specimen is 28.84 g.

Recorded mintage: 243,443[1], a slightly scarce date.

Catalog reference: Dav-1333, Dr/4 no. 883, Dr/2 no. 616, KM 564.10, Duplessy 1708. Gadoury 356.

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]Richter, Jürg, Ruedi Kunzmann and Arne Kirsch, Numismatic Coins & Medals, Auction 26, Zurich: SINCONA AG, 2015.
  • 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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