France 1856-K 2 centimes

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from the Mountain Groan Collection
France 1856K 2 centimes rev DSLR.jpg

The specimen shown is a two centimes "tête nue" of Napoleon III, of a type struck 1853-57. It was minted in Bordeaux (mintmark "K"). It is the most common date tho it is not the highest mintage.

The regime of Napoleon III finally carried out plans developed during the 1840's to melt down and remint all the old copper circulating in France, some of it dating back to before the Revolution of 1789. Several branch mints were reopened for this purpose. The existing mints were Paris ("A"), Strasbourg ("BB") and Bordeaux ("K"); the reopened mints were Lille ("W"), Marseilles ("MA"), Rouen ("B") and Lyon ("D"). The two centimes is the scarcest of the bronze denominations of Napoleon III, tho it is not rare. For comparison, here are the mintages of each denomination 1853-57:

  • 1 centime: 66.8 million
  • 2 centimes: 58 million
  • 5 centimes: 414 million
  • 10 centimes: 258.8 million

The coinage of bronze was suspended in 1857 but resumed in 1861 using a different bust, the "tête laurée." Only Paris, Strasbourg and Bordeaux participated in this later issue.

Recorded mintage: 2,280,342[1].

Specification: bronze, 2 g, 20 mm diameter, plain edge, designed by Jean-Jacques Barré (1793-1855).

Catalog reference: F.107/41, KM 776.5.


  • Michael, Thomas, and Tracy L. Schmidt, Standard Catalog of World Coins, 1801-1900, 9th ed., Iola, WI: Krause Publications, 2019.
  • Gadoury, Victor, Monnaies Françaises, 1789-2011, 20me éd., Monaco: Éditions Victor Gadoury, 2011.
  • [1]Prieur, Michel, and Laurent Schmitt, Le Franc 10: Les Monnaies, Paris: Éditions les Chevau-légers, 2014.

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