Silver French One Franc Coin

Posted by on August 21, 2012
1808 French 1 Franc - obverse

1808 French 1 Franc - obverse

From 1799 until the middle of 1852 the silver French one franc coin were minted with 90% silver and in 1852 through 1920 these continued with an 83.5% silver content (0.13 Troy ounces of silver) while maintaining the gross weight of 5 grams (0.16 Troy ounces gross weight) and a diameter of 23 millimeters.

The first of these one franc silver coins from France were minted in 1799 into 1804 with “BONAPARTE PREMIERCONSUL” as its obverse legend with Napoleon’s head facing right.  The reverse has the legend “REPUBLIQUE FRNACAISE” and the date along the bottom at the rim.  A laurel wreath in closes “1” stacked over ‘FRANC” in the center.  Then during 1804 and through 1814 the obverse legend was changed to “NAPOLEON EMPEREUR.” and the reverse legend will read “EMPIRE FRANCAIS”.  Both were designed and engraved by Tiolier.

1918 One Franc French Silver Coin
1918 One Franc French Silver Coin
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During 1814 through 1824 Louis XVIII’s head faces left with the legend “LOUIS XVIII ROI DE FRANCE” on the obverse.  The reverse has the coat of arms in the center, a “1” is on the left and on the right “F” (franc), a large royal crown on top, a wreath surrounds this, and underneath is the date.  In 1824 Charles X’s head is used, also facing left, with a legend of “CHARLES X ROI DE FRANCE” and used through 1830.  The reverse is the same and both of these were designed by Michaut.

1813 French 1 Franc - obverse

1813 French 1 Franc - obverse

For 1831 Henri V’s bust facing left is used and his name replaces Charles X’s.   In 1832 and through 1848 Louis Philipee I’s head appears and faces right with a similar change to the obverse.  The reverse is also redesigned with no coat of arms.  “1” is stacked over “FRANC” and the date is under both.  A wreath encircles all of this along the rim.

1867 French 1 Franc - obverse

1867 French 1 Franc - obverse

Louis-Napoleon appears on the 1852 90% silver coin facing left with the legend “NAPOLEON BONAPARTE”, the reverse’s wreath is tightened up to allow the legend “REPUBLIQUE FRANCAISE” to fit along the rim.  This is the year the silver content was dropped to 83.5% and these francs have the obverse legend “NAPOLEON III EMPEREUR” as well as the reverse’s becomes “EMPIRE FRANCAIS”.  In 1852 a royal seal is displayed in the center with the date underneath and “1” on the lower left and “F” across on the right, the legend still reads “EMPIRE FRANCAIS”.  Barre designed all three of these.

1894 French 1 Franc - obverse

1894 French 1 Franc - obverse

Oudine designed the French Liberty Head Franc.  She faces left with the legend “REPUBLIC * FRANCAISE”.  The reverse goes back to the wreath style but a new legend is France’s new motto: “LIBERTE. EGALITE. FRATERNITE.” this translates to ‘Liberty, Equality, and Fraternity’.  These ideas are what the French consider to be the essential principles guarantying; sovereignty, nation, and citizenship. These silver coins were minted in 1871 through 1895.

Louis Oscar Roty’s French Silver Franc that was minted in 1898 through 1920 has one of the most famous coin designs in the world and is called the “Sower” (La Semeuse).  The one franc Sower has a diameter of 23.00 millimeters, weigh 5.000 grams, are 83.5% silver yielding a total of 0.1342 troy ounces of pure silver, and have a reeded edge.

1898 French 1 Franc - obverse

1898 French 1 Franc - obverse

The obverse of the Sower has Liberty in a flowing gown walking towards the left with a bag of seed in her left hand against her left arm and her right arm and hand is trailing behind her sowing seeds as the center design.  There is a horizon drawn across the center with a sun with beams just peaking over the horizon.  Along the left raised rim is “REPULIQUE” and continues along the rim on the right “FRANCAISE”.

1898 French 1 Franc - reverse

1898 French 1 Franc - reverse

The reverse has a laurel branch centrally placed in the lower two thirds of the coin with “FRANC” above it and above that is “1”.  At the base of the coin is the date following the rim is the date.  The rest of the coin is encircled with  “LIBERTY ECALITE FRATERNITE”.  All French coins these have various mint marks usually at the 5 and 7 o’clock positions at the base of the coin is the date following the rim and on either side of the date are the French mint marks which are symbols as opposed to letters on the reverse.

Roty’s Sower design is often referred to as inspiring the United States Walking Liberty quarter design.  It is so loved that the French use it on their renditions of Euro coins and also on their bullion coins.

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