France 1855-MA 5 centimes

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Sincona sale 26, lot 3163
from the Mountain Groan Collection
France 1855MA 5 centimes rev DSLR.jpg
The first specimen was lot 3163 in Sincona sale 26 (Zurich, October 2015), where it sold for 175 CHF (about US$216 including buyer's fees). The catalog description[1] noted,
"II. Kaiserreich. Napoleon III. 1852-1870 10 Centimes 1855. MA, Marseille Münzzeichen Anker. Vorzüglich-FDC. (France, second empire, Napoleon III, 1852-70, ten centimes of 1855, Marseille mint, anchor privy mark. Extremely fine to uncirculated.)"
The specimen shown is a five centimes "tête nue" of Napoleon III, of a type struck 1853-57. It was minted in Paris (mintmark "A"). It is a common date but two privy marks are known, a dog's head and an anchor (shown here). The SCWC[2] gives the anchor privy mark a slight premium but Le Franc[3] prefers the dog's head.

The regime of Napoleon III finally carried out plans developed during the 1840's to melt down and remint all the old copper circulating in France, some of it dating back to before the Revolution of 1789. Several branch mints were reopened for this purpose. The existing mints were Paris ("A"), Strasbourg ("BB") and Bordeaux ("K"); the reopened mints were Lille ("W"), Marseilles ("MA"), Rouen ("B") and Lyon ("D"). The two centimes is the scarcest of the bronze denominations of Napoleon III, tho it is not rare. For comparison, here are the mintages of each denomination 1853-57:

  • 1 centime: 66.8 million
  • 2 centimes: 58 million
  • 5 centimes: 414 million
  • 10 centimes: 258.8 million

The coinage of bronze was suspended in 1857 but resumed in 1861 using a different bust, the "tête laurée." Only Paris, Strasbourg and Bordeaux participated in this later issue.

Recorded mintage: 4,821,260 (dog's head privy mark) plus 10,572,353 (anchor)[3].

Specification: 25 mm diameter, 10 g, bronze, plain edge, Designed by Jean-Jacques Barré, 1793-1855, the first specimen 9.89 g.

Catalog reference: Gadoury 248. F.116/27, KM 777.1.


  • [3]Prieur, Michel, and Laurent Schmitt, Le Franc 10: Les Monnaies, Paris: Éditions les Chevau-légers, 2013.
  • [2]Cuhaj, George S., and Thomas Michael, Standard Catalog of World Coins, 1801-1900, 7th ed., Iola, WI: Krause Publications, 2012.
  • [1]Richter, Jürg, Ruedi Kunzmann and Arne Kirsch, Numismatic Rarities, Auction 25, Zurich: SINCONA AG, 2015.

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