France 1855-A 20 francs

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Eliasberg lot 159
France 1855A 20 francs rev Eliasberg 159.jpg

This specimen was lot 159 in the Eliasberg sale, where it sold for $632.50. The catalog description[1] noted, "1855 (A) 20 francs. Paris mint. MS-66 (NGC). Anchor different. Type as above/value and date in wreath, legends around. Frosty medium gold with strong lustre. A very nice type coin. From the John H. Clapp Collection; Clapp estate to Louis E. Eliasberg, Sr., 1942." This "bare head" type of Napoleon III was struck 1853-60 and 18 dates comprise the set. 146,000,000 were struck for the type, making it the most common gold coin of French history with the possible exception of the "rooster" (struck 1898-1914 and repeatedly restruck since). Typical XF-AU specimens trade for their bullion value but gems like the one shown are rare. This issue has been counterfeited extensively but as most of the fakes contain the correct amount of gold, they trade for the same price as the genuine.

Recorded mintage: 16,552,101.

Specification: 21 mm diameter, 6.45 grams, .900 fine gold, edge lettered DIEU PROTEGE LA FRANCE; this specimen: 6.47 grams, 21.20 mm.

Catalog reference: Fr-573, Gadoury-247, F.531/4, KM 781.1.


  • Michael, Thomas, and Tracy L. Schmidt, Standard Catalog of World Coins, 1801-1900, 9th ed., Iola, WI: Krause Publications, 2019.
  • Friedberg, Arthur L. and Ira S. Friedberg, Gold Coins of the World, From Ancient Times to the Present, 7th ed., Clifton, NJ: Coin and Currency Institute, 2003.
  • [1]Kraljevich, John, John Pack, Elizabeth O. Piper and Frank Van Valen, The Louis E. Eliasberg, Sr., Collection of World Gold Coins and Medals, Wolfboro, NH: American Numismatic Rarities, 2005.
  • Gadoury, Victor, Monnaies Françaises, 1789-2011, 20me éd., Monaco: Éditions Victor Gadoury, 2011.
  • Prieur, Michel, and Laurent Schmitt, Le Franc 10: Les Monnaies, Paris: Éditions les Chevau-légers, 2014.

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