A Really Imperial Coin!
The September 2010 Coin Galleries sale will offer one of the world’s most “imperial” coins, the .900 gold 100 Francs of Emperor Napoleon III (1852-1870). Struck at Paris in 1867, this 35 millimeter, 32.25 gram gold piece presents a laureate bust facing right, the laurel earned by victory in the Italian war against Austria in 1859. The edge presents a prayer, “God Protect France.” The reverse presents the imperial Arms on an ermine mantle with crossed scepter and Main de Justice. The Napoleonic eagle occupies the shield, surrounded by the crown and Collar of the Legion d’Honneur.
Only 29,000 were struck. 100 Francs was a significant amount of money in 1869, probably more than a month’s wage for a skilled worker. A sharp-eyed viewer can discover no fewer than 22 eagles in the reverse design, counting the five birds forming the arches of the crown, the single bird on the shield, and 16 more forming the Collar of the Legion! A year later Napoleon was in exile in England.