France 1792-W ecu

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Heritage sale 3040, lot 29676
France H3040-29676r.jpg

This specimen was lot 29676 in Heritage sale 3040 (Long Beach, April 2015), where it sold for $763.75. The catalog description[1] noted, "Republic - Louis XVI Ecu (6 Livres) 1792-W AU55 NGC, Lille mint. Broad and stately, this offering displays silvery-gray patination with delicate instances of amber color woven throughout the legends. Featuring the standing Genius writing the constitution, with minimal wear across the higpoints, highly appealing as such." This specimen is a "constitutional écu" struck at the Lille 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
  • 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.

Recorded mintage: unknown.

Catalog reference: 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]Bierrenbach, Cristiano, Warren Tucker and David Michaels, Heritage Signature Auction 3040, featuring the Santa Maria, the Alan Dean and the Valley View Life Collections, Dallas, TX: Heritage Auction Galleries, 2015.

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