France 1878-A 20 francs

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from Jean Elsen sale 134, lot 1822
This specimen was lot 1822 in Jean Elsen sale 134 (Brussels, September 2017), where it sold for €210 (about US$297 including buyer's fees). The catalog description[1] noted,
"FRANCE, Troisième République (1871-1940), AV 20 francs, 1878A, Paris. Superbe. (France, Third Republic, gold twenty francs of 1878, Paris mint. Extremely fine.)"
This specimen is a common date of a series struck 1871-98. This type revives the type struck 1848-49 during the Second Republic. All 86 million were struck at the Paris mint. Most dates are readily available; only the 1888-A is rare. This type is commonly called an "angel" by American dealers but the French name "Génie" is more accurate, as the figure is the Genius of France inscribing the Constitution. It was officially withdrawn from circulation in 1928 and demonetized in 2005 but ceased to circulate after World War One.

Recorded mintage: 9,188,600.

Specification: 6.45 g, .900 fine gold, 21 mm diameter, edge lettered DIEU PROTEGE LA FRANCE, revival of a design by Augustin Dupré (1748-1833).

Catalog reference: Gad-1063; Fr-592, F.533/6.


  • Cuhaj, George S., and Thomas Michael, Standard Catalog of World Coins, 1801-1900, 7th ed., Iola, WI: Krause Publications, 2012.
  • 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]Elsen, Philippe, et al., Vente Publique 134, Brussels: Jean Elsen et ses Fils S.A., 2017.
  • 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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