France 1856-BB 20 francs

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Sincona sale 46, lot 422
This specimen was lot 422 in Sincona sale 46 (Zurich, May 2018), where it sold for 750 CHF (about US$900 including buyer's fees). The catalog description[1] noted,
"FRANKREICH, II. Kaiserreich. Napoleon III. 1852-1870. 20 Francs 1856 BB, Strassburg. Münzzeichen Hundekopf und Biene. Sehr schön-vorzüglich. (France, Second Empire, Napeleon III, twenty francs of 1856, Starsbourg mint, privy marks dog's head and bee. Very fine-extremely fine.)"
This "bare head" type of Napoleon III was struck 1853-60 and 18 dates comprise the set. 146,000,000 were struck for the type, making it the most common gold coin of French history with the possible exception of the "rooster" (struck 1898-1914 and repeatedly restruck since). Typical XF-AU specimens trade for their bullion value. This issue has been counterfeited extensively but as most of the fakes contain the correct amount of gold, they trade for the same price as the genuine. The bee privy mark is priced at 2.7 times the common date 1854-A and the dog's head is priced at 5.6 times.

Reported Mintage: est. 59,115 of the dog's head privy mark plus est. 1,006,062 of the bee privy mark.

Specification: 21 mm diameter, 6.45 grams, .900 fine gold, edge lettered DIEU PROTEGE LA FRANCE; this specimen 6.42 g.

Catalog reference: Gadoury 1061. Schl. 288. Fr-574, F.531/10 (dog's head).


  • Friedberg, Arthur L. and Ira S. Friedberg, Gold Coins of the World, From Ancient Times to the Present, 9th ed., Clifton, NJ: Coin and Currency Institute, 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.
  • Bruce, Colin R., and Thomas Michael, Standard Catalog of World Coins, 1801-1900, 5th ed., Iola, WI: Krause Publications, 2006.
  • [1]Richter, Jürg, Auction 46, Gold Coins and Medals, Zurich: Sincona AG, 2018.

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