France 1856-A 2 francs

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from the Mountain Groan Collection
France 1856A 2 francs rev DSLR.jpg

This specimen is one of a series struck 1853-59 during the reign of Napoleon III (1852-70). The type is known as the two francs Napoléon III, téte nue, and is among the rarest French silver coins of the nineteenth century. Among the two francs, only the 1815A two francs of the "Hundred Days" brings a higher price as a type. Three mints are known for the type: Paris ("A"), Strasbourg ("BB", 1856 only) and Lyon {"D", 1856 only).

The subsequent type, the two francs Napoléon III téte laurée, struck 1866-70, was made in large numbers and a type coin is about a tenth of the cost. The laureate head type was only .835 fine, so it is likely stocks of the bare head type were melted, accounting for the scarcity. The bare head type was recalled in 1864 and demonetized in 1869.

Recorded mintage: 240,711.

Specification: 27 mm diameter, 10 g, .900 fine silver, reeded edge. Designed by Jean-Jacques Barré, 1793-1855.

Catalog reference: F.262/8, KM 780.1.


  • 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.
  • Michael, Thomas, and Tracy L. Schmidt, Standard Catalog of World Coins, 1801-1900, 9th ed., Iola, WI: Krause Publications, 2019.

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