The history of France is steeped in a rich tapestry of events and characters that have shaped the world. One of the lesser-known but fascinating aspects of this history is the legacy of French gold coins. From the glittering courts of the monarchy to the tumultuous times of revolution, these coins are physical testaments to the epochs they represent. They offer both numismatists and investors a tangible piece of French heritage, intertwined with the allure of precious gold. This article will introduce you to the crème de la crème of French gold coins. What are the best French gold coins?
First, consider the iconic Gold French Rooster, also known as the ‘Le Coq d’Or.’ Introduced in the late 19th century, this coin is a national symbol, embodying the spirit of the French Republic with a rooster on one side and Marianne, the personification of Liberty, on the other.
Our journey into the past then takes us to the time of the French kings with the distinguished Louis d’Or series. These coins, named after Louis XIII who first commissioned them, are a royal feast for any collector. With different versions representing successive monarchs, the Louis d’Or is a timeline of the French monarchy in gold.
Next, we delve into the era of the legendary French leader, Napoleon Bonaparte. The Gold Napoleon coin not only immortalizes Napoleon’s visage but also marks a significant shift in the French minting process, standardizing the gold content in French coins.
From there, we travel to the later part of the 19th century with the beautiful Angel 20 Francs coins. Their exquisite design, based on Raphael’s famous painting, makes these coins truly special and coveted among collectors.
Lastly, we visit the modern age with the large and commanding 50 Francs Hercules coins. Minted in the 1970s, these coins, showcasing the hero of Roman mythology, offer a fitting end to our historical journey.
Each of these coins represents a chapter in French history, encapsulated in gold. Whether you’re an investor seeking to diversify your portfolio with precious metals or a numismatist in search of historical treasures, these French gold coins have much to offer. This article aims to provide you with a greater understanding of their historical context, design, and value, enhancing your appreciation for these timeless pieces of French heritage.
Gold French Rooster (20 Francs)
The Gold French Rooster, known as the ‘Le Coq d’Or’ or ’20 Francs Rooster,’ is one of the most famous and iconic French gold coins. This beautiful coin’s legacy extends back to the late 19th century and early 20th century, more precisely, from 1899 to 1914.
The coin’s obverse features Marianne, the national symbol of the French Republic and the personification of Liberty and Reason. She is depicted in a Phrygian cap, an icon of freedom since Roman times. The words “REPUBLIQUE FRANÇAISE,” meaning “French Republic,” are etched around the edge of the coin, framing Marianne.
The reverse, however, is what gives this coin its name. It features the Gallic Rooster, or ‘Le Coq Gaulois,’ which is an unofficial symbol of France. The rooster is associated with vigilance and is a symbol of the French people’s resilience and bravery. The denomination ’20 FRANCS’ and the year of minting are also inscribed on the reverse side, along with the phrase “LIBERTÉ, ÉGALITÉ, FRATERNITÉ,” which is the national motto of France, meaning “Liberty, Equality, Fraternity.”
The coin weighs 6.45 grams and has a diameter of 21mm. It is composed of .900 gold, meaning it is 90% gold and 10% copper, resulting in a coin that is both durable and valuable. It contains .1867 troy ounces of actual gold weight.
The Gold French Rooster’s popularity among collectors and investors extends beyond France. Its relatively affordable price, coupled with its historical significance and the inherent value of its gold content, makes it a desirable piece for those interested in numismatics or gold investment. Whether you’re a novice collector or a seasoned investor, the 20 Francs Gold French Rooster offers a piece of French history, beautiful design, and a tangible store of wealth.
The Louis d’Or is a highly renowned French gold coin steeped in history and prestige. Its origin dates back to the 17th century, with the coin being named after Louis XIII, the French monarch who first commissioned it in 1640. This coin, in many ways, serves as a numismatic chronicle of the French monarchy, with various versions representing different monarchs from Louis XIII to Louis XVI.
The design of the Louis d’Or is regal, befitting its royal origin. The obverse traditionally features a detailed portrait of the reigning monarch at the time of minting, making each version unique. The king’s profile is surrounded by Latin inscriptions, which typically indicate the king’s name and title, along with the mint’s location.
The reverse of the coin exhibits a range of designs across its iterations, but a common theme is the depiction of the royal coat of arms or crowned shields, surrounded by intricate decorations. These designs not only serve as an endorsement of royal authority but also as a testament to the skill and craftsmanship of the period’s minters.
The coin’s weight and gold purity varied slightly over the centuries, but a typical Louis d’Or weighs around 6.75 grams and is made from .900 to .917 pure gold. Therefore, each coin contains approximately .200 to .2255 troy ounces of gold.
The Louis d’Or is more than just a gold coin – it’s a snapshot of French history, a celebration of its past monarchy, and a demonstration of remarkable coinage craftsmanship. For collectors, each coin’s unique attributes depending on the monarch and minting year adds to its numismatic value. For investors, the coin’s gold content presents a tangible asset. Whether seen from a historical, artistic, or investment perspective, the Louis d’Or embodies a significant piece of French heritage.
Gold Napoleon (20 Francs)
The Gold Napoleon, also known as the Napoleon Bonaparte 20 Francs, is a historically significant French gold coin that’s highly sought after by both numismatists and investors. First minted in 1803, during the reign of Napoleon Bonaparte, the coin remained in production until 1815. Its legacy, however, extends to the modern age.
The obverse of the Gold Napoleon features a portrait of Napoleon Bonaparte, one of the most iconic figures in French history. The design of the portrait can vary, with some coins showcasing a laureate head while others display a bare head. The coin’s edge is usually inscribed with Napoleon’s title as either Consul or Emperor, depending on the period of minting.
The reverse side of the coin is engraved with the French imperial eagle, a symbol of the French Empire under Napoleon. The eagle is surrounded by the inscription “REPUBLIQUE FRANÇAISE,” along with the coin’s denomination of “20 FRANCS” and the year of minting. The phrase “DIEU PROTÈGE LA FRANCE” (God Protect France) is also sometimes featured.
What sets the Gold Napoleon apart is its significant role in standardizing French coinage. This coin was the first to standardize the gold content at .900 purity and contain .1867 troy ounces of gold, a standard many subsequent French gold coins followed.
The Gold Napoleon is both a tangible representation of France’s Napoleonic era and a valuable gold coin. Collectors appreciate it for its historical significance and variety of designs, while investors value its gold content. A true icon, the Gold Napoleon offers a glimpse into a defining period in French history while serving as a notable asset in the world of precious metals.
Angel 20 Francs
The Angel 20 Francs is a beautiful French gold coin that combines artistry and history. First introduced in 1871, this coin is cherished for its captivating design and the historical era it represents, making it a prized possession for collectors and a valuable asset for investors.
The obverse of the Angel 20 Francs coin features a striking image of a standing genius, inspired by Raphael’s famous painting “Virgin of the Chair.” The genius, symbolizing the French Republic, is inscribing the Constitution. This image embodies the principles of the French Republic and the country’s commitment to the rule of law.
The reverse side of the coin is equally symbolic. It showcases a rooster, an enduring symbol of France associated with vigilance and courage. Also depicted is a fasces, a bundle of rods with an axe, an ancient symbol of power and jurisdiction. The coin’s denomination of “20 FRANCS,” along with the year of minting, encircles these images. The phrase “LIBERTÉ, ÉGALITÉ, FRATERNITÉ,” France’s national motto meaning “Liberty, Equality, Fraternity,” completes the design.
The Angel 20 Francs coin is crafted from .900 gold, meaning it’s 90% pure gold with the remaining 10% being copper for durability. The coin weighs 6.45 grams and contains .1867 troy ounces of actual gold weight. Its diameter measures 21mm, making it compact yet weighty.
The Angel 20 Francs is not just a gold coin – it is a work of art, a slice of history, and a symbol of the ideals that shaped France. Its exquisite design and the gold content make it a sought-after piece for those interested in numismatics or gold investment. Holding an Angel 20 Francs coin is like holding a piece of French history, making it a truly valuable addition to any collection or portfolio.
50 Francs Hercules
The 50 Francs Hercules is a remarkable French coin, notable for its larger size and striking design. First minted in 1974 and continuing until 1980, this coin is a standout piece in French numismatics, representing a modern interpretation of classical themes.
The obverse of the 50 Francs Hercules features a powerful representation of Hercules, the hero from Roman mythology, known for his strength and numerous far-ranging adventures. In this depiction, Hercules is shown in a group with two women symbolizing Equality and Freedom. This design originates from the ‘Seated Liberty of Equality and Fraternity’ motif used on French silver 5 Francs in the 19th century.
On the reverse, the coin showcases its denomination “50 FRANCS” along with the year of mintage. The phrase “REPUBLIQUE FRANÇAISE” is inscribed around the rim, affirming the coin’s national origin.
In terms of specifications, the 50 Francs Hercules is composed of .900 gold, translating to 90% gold and 10% copper alloy. The coin’s larger size, with a diameter of 29mm, and weight of approximately 15 grams, gives it a significant presence. This composition results in the coin containing .4358 troy ounces of gold.
The 50 Francs Hercules coin brings together classic mythology, national identity, and substantial gold value, making it an exciting addition to any collection or investment portfolio. Its attractive design and larger gold content, combined with its representation of the ideals of Equality and Freedom, contribute to its status as a coveted coin among numismatists and gold investors alike. Holding a 50 Francs Hercules coin is like holding a piece of modern French history, all the while possessing a valuable and tangible asset.