Currency of France

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Sincona sale 66, lot 3120

John Law notes

This specimen was lot 3120 in Sincona sale 66 (Zurich, October 2020), where it sold for 15,000 CHF (about US$19,748 including buyer's fees). The catalog description[1] noted,
"BANKNOTEN | Frankreich Königreich (bis zur Revolution 1792) | misc, Billets de Monoye. 1800 Livres 1707, 14. Mai. Billet de Monoye Renouvellé et Visé en execution de la Declaration du 24. Mai 1707. Pick A1a. Von grosser Seltenheit/De grande rareté. III+. Kl. Risschen in den Falten. (kingdom of France, 1800 livres note of 1707. Of high rarity, Good very fine, Folds with very small tears.)"


from the Mountain Groan Collection

The first note was issued by the French Republic some time in 1793. Like most assignats, it is printed on one side only. Assignats were so-called because property confiscated from the Church and from émigrés was assigned to back the notes. This may have been plausible in 1790, when issue began, but by 1793, three years of wartime inflation had turned assignats into fiat money despised even by the politicians who forced its acceptance on a reluctant populace. Six livres = one écu, but this paper note was depreciated to less than a third of its value in bullion.

five hundred francs

Sincona sale 66, lot 3152
This specimen was lot 3152 in Sincona sale 66 (Zurich, October 2020), where it did not sell. The catalog description[1] noted,
"BANKNOTEN | Frankreich 4. Republik (1947-1958) | misc, Banque de France. 500 Francs 1954, 7. Januar. Pick 133a. II+. Minimaler Falt beim Portrait. (fourth republic of France, Bank of France, five hundred francs note of 1954. Good extremely fine, Minimal fold in portrait.)"

five thousand francs

Ponterio sale 158, lot 2482
photo courtesy Ponterio and Associates

The second specimen was lot 2482 in Ponterio sale 158 (New York, January 2011), where it sold for $632.50. The catalog description[2] noted, "FRANCE. Banque De France. 5,000 Francs, 6.3.1958. P-135a. An always popular higher denomination which shows with Henery IV at center. Original paper and light circulation. Extremely Fine." In 1959, the Nouveau Franc was introduced and this note would have been worth 50 Nouveaux Francs.


  • [1]Jürg Richter, Auction 66, Gold and Silver Coins and Medals, featuring the Claude Stritt Collection, Zurich: Sincona AG, 2020.
  • [2]Ponterio, Richard, and Kent Ponterio, Ponterio sale 158: The 2011 N.Y.I.N.C. Auction, Irvine: Bowers and Merena, 2010.

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