France 1856-A franc

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Heritage sale 3020, lot 23800
photo courtesy Heritage Auction Galleries

This specimen was lot 23800 in Heritage sale 3020 (Long Beach, September 2012), where it sold for $763.75. The catalog description[1] noted, "Napoleon III Proof Franc 1856A, Proof 65 NGC, gorgeous deep russet and magenta patina, fully original and very scarce in Proof." This issue, from the Paris mint, is a common date of a type struck 1853-63 during the régime of Napoleon III. This "tête nue" design, by J. J. Barre, was replaced in 1864 by the "tête laurée" type, which was of lower fineness. It was demonetized in France in 1869. A complete set of this type comprises 17 date and mintmark combinations. The entire production run, 1853-63, totaled about 25.9 million pieces. This date is common but is priced about 15% higher than the commonest dates (1858-A and 1859-A). Proofs, of course, are rare.

Recorded mintage: 1,173,348.

Specification: 23 mm diameter, 5 grams, .900 fine silver, reeded edge. Designed by Jean-Jacques Barre, 1793-1855.

Catalog reference: KM 779.1, F.214/6.


  • Cuhaj, George S., and Thomas Michael, Standard Catalog of World Coins, 1801-1900, 7th ed., Iola, WI: Krause Publications, 2012.
  • [2]Prieur, Michel, and Laurent Schmitt, Le Franc 10: Les Monnaies, Paris: Éditions les Chevau-légers, 2014.
  • [1]Tucker, Warren, and Cris Bierrenbach, Heritage Signature Auction 3020: World Coins, Dallas, TX: Heritage Auction Galleries, 2012.

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