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French Gold Coins

Brief French History

In Roman times France was known as Gaul. Its borders have expanded and contracted over several millennia, and was at various times composed of several different states ruled by kings and dukes. From the Renaissance France emerged as a leading nation, peaking in the reign of Louis XIV. The arrogant and opulent lifestyles of the aristocracy led to the French Revolution in 1789, which shook Europe like an earthquake, and has had a lasting effect on world politics ever since. After the Revolution, power changed hands numerous times, Napoleon Bonaparte seized power, at first as First Consul for life, then Emperor, and also as king of Italy. The monarchy was restored at least twice, and France its now on its fifth republic. After the German occupation, the Fourth Republic was formed in 1947, but this gave way to a Fifth Republic with a new constitution as recently as 1959. France is the largest country in Western Europe and a central player in the European Union.

French Gold Coins

Earlier French gold coin denominations such as the livre, were derived from the latin libra, meaning pound or book, so the French livre was similar to the British pound and the Italian lira. Others included the ecu meaning a shield, so called because its design included a shield bearing a coat of arms, ecus are related linguistically to scudos and escudos. The Louis d'Or was named after Louis XIII. Our tables below show the specifications of most of the French currency issues of gold coins, followed by a list of any recently offered for sale.


The first franc was a gold coin struck in 1360 when King John was freed. It showed King John in armour on horseback, and was known as a franc à cheval. The word franc meaning free, but also referring to the Frankish people. Franc coins fell into disuse after 1642, until they were revived during the revolutionary period in 1795, when a decimal currency system was introduced. As far as we are aware this was the world's first decimal currency system, although the American had proposed it in 1781.

Monnaie de Luxe

The French and other countries make a number of monnaies de luxe. This has a meaning similar to luxury coins. Probably the best translation would be specimen coins, they are always a superior finish compared with an ordinary uncirculated coin, but not necessarily a mirror-finish proof coin. The French monnaies de luxe are produced to a very high quality of finish, better than many proof issues from other countries.

The French Revolutionary or Republican Calendar
Certain French coins are not dated in the Gregorian system, but the French Revolutionary Calendar system. This calendar is calculated from 22th September 1792, the date of the establishment of the first French Republic, although the calendar itself was not introduced until 24th November 1793, therefore there was no year one! The starting date each year is as follows. The calendar was abolished on 1st January 1806.

Napoleon I Bonaparte

For a more complete and up to date listing of gold coins of Napoleon, please see our Napoleon Bonaparte page.

French Republican Calendar

122 Sep 1792
222 Sep 1793
322 Sep 1794
423 Sep 1795
522 Sep 1796
622 Sep 1797
722 Sep 1798
823 Sep 1799
923 Sep 1800
1023 Sep 1801
1123 Sep 1802
1224 Sep 1803
1323 Sep 1804
1423 Sep 1805

Technical Specifications

DenominationDiameterWeightFinenessGold Content
100 Francs3432.2581.900.9355
100 Francs Monnaies de Luxe3017.0000.920.5028
50 Francs2916.1290.900.4667
40 Francs2612.9039.900.3734
20 Francs216.4516.900.1867
10 Francs16.53.2258.900.0933
5 Francs161.6129.900.0467

Types & Dates

DenominationTypeFirst DateLast Date
20 FrancsBonaparte Premier Consul / Value in Wreath
Latin Date
XI (1802/3)XI (1802/3)
20 FrancsBonaparte Premier Consul / Value in Wreath
AN Arabic Numerals
12 (1803/4)12 (1803/4)
20 FrancsNapoleon Empereur / Value in Wreath
AN (Arabic Numerals)
12 (1803/4)14 (1805/6)
20 FrancsNapoleon Empereur Bare Head / Value in Wreath 18061807
20 FrancsNapoleon Empereur Laureate Head / Value in Wreath 18071815
20 FrancsLouis XVIII Bust / Crowned Shield in Wreath 18141815
20 FrancsLouis XVIII Head / New Crowned Shield in Wreath 18161824
20 FrancsCharles X / Crowned Shield in Wreath 18251830
20 FrancsLouis Philippe Bare Head / Value in Wreath 18301831
20 FrancsLouis Philippe Laureate Head / Value in Wreath 18321846
20 FrancsAngel / Value in Wreath 18481849
20 FrancsHead of République / Value in Wreath 18491851
20 FrancsLouis Napoleon Bonaparte / Value in Wreath 18521852
20 FrancsNapoleon III / Value in Wreath 18531860
20 FrancsNapoleon III / Shield 18611870
20 FrancsAngel / Value in Wreath18711898
20 FrancsCeres / Cockerel (Rooster)
20 FrancsCeres / Cockerel (Rooster)

Prices & Availability

For lists of French gold coins with prices and availability, please see the following pages:-

Quantity Purchases

For investors or collectors wishing to buy 20 Francs in quantity of 10 pieces or more, we can usually quote very competitive bullion rates on request.

Postage & Packing

UK Registered Post (Special Delivery) £9 per order
EU Insured Post £10 per order
USA Airmail $10 per order
USA Insured Shipping $20 per order

Obverse of 1786 French Gold Coin - Showing Louis Dor

Louis XVI on Obverse of 1786 French Louis D'or

Reverse of 1786 French Gold Coin

Reverse of 1786 French Louis D'or

Napoleon III on a 50 Francs of 1862

Crowned Arms on Reverse of 1862 50 Francs

Crowned Arms on Reverse of 50 Francs of 1862

Napoleon III on a 50 Francs of 1862

World Gold Coins


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