France 1792-I ecu

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Jean Elsen sale 125, lot 1782
This specimen was lot 1782 in Jean Elsen sale 125 (Brussels, June 2015), where it sold for €330 (about US$439 including buyer's fees). The catalog description[1] noted,
"FRANCE, Constitution (1791-1792), AR écu constitutionnel, 1792-I, an 4, Limoges. Type FRANCOIS. D/ T. nue à g., les cheveux noués par un ruban. R/ Génie inscrivant la constitution sur une table. A g., un faisceau. A d., un coq. Petites taches Superbe. (France, constitutional regime (1791-92), silver écu of 1792, Limoges mint, "FRANCOIS" legend; reverse: bare head to left, hair tied in a ribbon; reverse: a genie inscribes the constitution on a pedestal, fasces to left, a rooster to right. Slight marks, extremely fine.)"
This specimen is a "constitutional écu" struck at the Limoges mint, one of a type struck there 1792-93, prior to the trial and execution of the king. Its divisions were the ½, 1/4 and 1/8 écu, struck in billon. The écu was worth $1.10 in the USA before the Civil War. The 1792-A and 1793-A are the most available dates of this scarce type, which was demonetized in 1834.

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 (obverse legend "FRANÇAIS")
  • D Lyon
  • H La Rochelle
  • I Limoges (shown here)
  • 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
  • cow Pau

Specifications for the Écu constitutionnel.

  • Obverse: LOUIS XVI ROI DES FRANCOIS, king’s head left, hair tied with a ribbon, date below;
  • reverse: REGNE DE LA LOI (mintmark), winged genius of France inscribing the constitution on a tablet; 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. This specimen is 29,22 g.

Recorded mintage: unknown.

Catalog reference: Dupl. 1718; Dav-1335; KM 615.14, Gad-55.

Sources:

  • Gadoury, Victor, Monnaies Françaises, 1789-2011, 20me éd., Monaco: Éditions Victor Gadoury, 2011.
  • 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.
  • [1]Elsen, Philippe, et al., Vente Publique 125: Collections Dr. Jacques Marneffe, Jean-Marie Chouters et Henri Pottier, Brussels: Jean Elsen et ses Fils, S.A., 2015.

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