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French Pretender Coinage

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 Posted 04/08/2011  8:39 pm Show Profile   Bookmark this topic Add sel_69l to your friends list Get a Link to this Message
I have known for decades that such coinage exists. Krause 19th century catalog refers to it.

I have just acquired an 1831 silver 1 franc of Henri V, Pretender. (KMPT 28.1) I have found enough information about Henri V on the Web for my purposes.

The only information I can on French pretender COINS is in auction listings.

I would like to find out more about the coins themselves.

I am hoping that someone in the CCF, who knows more about the coins than I do, may be able to share what they know.

Thank you in advance.
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 Posted 04/08/2011  10:14 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add Peter THOMAS to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
you inspired me to research, and I got this far:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Henri,..._de_Chambord

As I read it, Henri V was, disputedly, King for seven days in August 1830, and after that, Louis-Philippe was King until 1848 ... so I'm wondering how coins of Henri V were minted bearing the date 1831 ?

Now, I am not making assumptions here: just asking a question.

The coins in my collection that give me particular satisfaction feature N. Bonaparte, and the date 1815, from Les Cent Jours. So, our coins are beautiful little teachers ...

Peter




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 Posted 04/08/2011  10:31 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add sel_69l to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Peter: Fair question that you ask, and I cannot answer it with any authority. It is my guess that Henri V had some supporters who were pushing his claim to be king, when Louis- Phillipe was in the ascendancy. I read your link, which tells of Henri V, but I am still after more info. about the coins themselves.
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 Posted 04/09/2011  04:08 am  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add MathieuMa to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Hi, could you post a picture of the coin ?

It's very interesting, I'm french and didn't know this part of history (or don't remember ...).
I hope my next reading (history book) will have more details :)
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 Posted 04/09/2011  06:14 am  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add sel_69l to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Camera is with a relative at the moment. Not to worry. Krause 19th Century Catalogue KM PT 28.1 under France has it listed and pictured, obv. and rev.

This catalogue pictures and lists all of the pretender coinage of France of the 19th century. Ask to see the shop copy at a coin dealer.

I will retrieve my camera and post some pictures soon, if I can.
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 Posted 04/09/2011  07:03 am  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add Sap to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
They are listed in the Krause "Unusual World Coins" book, too.

Quote:
As I read it, Henri V was, disputedly, King for seven days in August 1830, and after that, Louis-Philippe was King until 1848 ... so I'm wondering how coins of Henri V were minted bearing the date 1831 ?

The answer is, of course, "unofficially". UWC lists "pretender coinages" for several monarchs: Louis XVII, Napoleon II, Henri V, Frederick Wilhelm III of Prussia, Napoleon IV and Ernest I.

They would have been privately commissioned either by the pretender himself and/or his supporters (as I suspect is the case for many of the Henri V pieces) as fundraisers / awareness raisers for their cause, or by historical societies and numismatic organizations long after the pretender had died or ceased pretending, wishing to make "coins" to complete their sets of coins from each monarch. Just like you can find a plethora of Edward VIII "coins".
Don't say "infinitely" when you mean "very"; otherwise, you'll have no word left when you want to talk about something really infinite. - C. S. Lewis
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 Posted 04/09/2011  10:25 am  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add sel_69l to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Is there any published information re the number struck?
What mint (or unofficial mint) produced them?
Where were they struck?
Have any numismatic journals published articles on Pretender Coins?

I guess that if they are somewhat like unofficial Edward V111 coins, official information may be hard to come by.
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 Posted 04/09/2011  3:22 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add MathieuMa to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Here is Carlos III from spain, pretender : http://www.maravedis.net/archiduque_carlos.html
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 Posted 04/09/2011  11:07 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add Sap to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
UWC lists mints and mintages for some of the series of coins I mentioned above (several of them appear to have been struck in Switzerland) but none are mentioned for the specific pattern you have (KM# PT28.1).
Don't say "infinitely" when you mean "very"; otherwise, you'll have no word left when you want to talk about something really infinite. - C. S. Lewis
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 Posted 09/25/2020  12:30 am  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add cjh5801 to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Hello, sorry for reviving such an old topic, but I'm a new member who just wandered in here.

I recently obtained a pretender coin for Napoleon II, 3 centimes, dated 1816. I see that there's a now closed topic on this series of coins, where one member states with apparent authority that these coins were actually minted in 1860. Is there a source for this date? Here's what I've been able to find on the subject of coinage in the name of Napoleon II:

In searching around on the Internet, I've seen references to the coins in this series in a number of catalogs and lists of collections, but little in the way of verifiable background information. What exists is a bit confusing.

From contemporary accounts, there appears to have been at least some coins issued in the name of Napoleon II in the summer of 1815. According to "The Duke of Reichstadt", by Edward de Wertheimer (1906), citing a report taken from the Prussian Imperial Archives dated August 7, 1815, "In the Palais Royal pieces of ten and twenty sous bearing the image of Napoleon II sold at ten and twenty francs." 10 sous would be worth 50 centimes (1/2 franc) and 20 sous would be worth 1 franc, so this report isn't directly referring to coins such as my 3-centime piece, but it does indicate that there was coinage bearing the name of Napoleon II in existence in 1815 (not 1816, as this coin is dated). But if the report is not referring to coins from the "1816" set that this coin belongs to, where are some examples of the 1815 pieces being described? I've not seen them.

In the vol. 27, number 1, issue of "The Numismatist" (1914), under the heading "Numismatic Curiosities", it is stated: "The coins with the effigy of Napoleon II--the King of Rome--the unhappy son of Napoleon I, circulated in France, in a demonstrative manner, from 1816 until sometime after 1830, together with numerous other objects and 'seditious emblems' recognizing the King of Rome, the delicate eaglet who was re-baptized by Austria with the title of Duke of Reichstadt. There exists a piece of five francs of Napoleon II with the date 1816, when his father was a prisoner at St. Helena." Again, this doesn't directly refer to a 3-centime piece, but it does give us a coin dated 1816, as in this example.

But the article from "The Numismatist" goes on to state: "Other coins of Napoleon II have been of the denominations of 2, 1, and one-half francs [remember that 1 franc = 20 sous and 1/2 franc = 10 sous, same as the coins referred to in the 1815 report cited above], and 5, 3, and 1 centessimi. The first three were simply trial pieces in copper and lead. These pieces therefore, had been coined under Napoleon III, who evidently would not permit a lack of continuity of the monetary series of Bonaparte."

So here, at least, we have reference to a 3-centime piece, but how has the author concluded that this series was issued by Napoleon III? And if it is referring to my "1816" example (which is marked "ESSAI", meaning "trial"), how does the author know that the 1816 5-franc piece referred to in the above paragraph actually dates from 1816 and circulated between 1816 and 1830? And if the trial series was struck under Napoleon III, why were they dated 1816? An argument could be (and was) made that Napoleon II had technically reigned for a brief period in 1815, but by 1816 any factual claim that he may have had to the throne was lost.

The first clear description of my 1816 3-centime example that I can find is in "Catalogue des monnaies royales et seigneuriales de France depuis les merovingiens jusqu'a nos jours", Vol. 35 (1900), which accurately describes the series of coins portraying Napoleon II, dated 1816 and all marked "ESSAI", ranging from a 5-franc piece to a 1-centime coin, including a 1-franc piece (20 sous) and a demi-franc (10 sous). The compiler of this catalog has added a note regarding these coins, which Google Translate renders as saying: "All these coins, in the name of Napoleon II, were issued quite recently, they are engraved without taste and without understanding of history. The 1816 date here is ridiculous, one would still understand 1815: it would recall the date of the abdication."

While the statement concluding the above paragraph may be true, it appears to be pretty much speculation on the part of the catalog's compiler. Note that the series marked "1816 ESSAI" includes coins supposedly worth 5-francs, 20 sous, and 10 sous, which make them sound like the coins referred to in the 1815 contemporary report and the article from the 1904 issue of "The Numismatist" cited above. And what does "quite recently" mean from the standpoint of a publication from 1900? Would it include the reign of Napoleon III, which ran from 1852 to 1870? Or is the compiler suggesting that the coins were mere fantasy pieces struck by collectors some time closer to 1900? Hard to say.

I also found reference to coinage struck under the name of Napoleon II in "Phantom Terror: Political Paranoia and the Creation of the Modern State, 1789-1848", by Adam Zamoyski (2015), who writes: "In spite of this [referring to bans against support of Napoleon in France after Waterloo], millions of prints, statuettes and busts of Napoleon, as well as images illustrating the glorious episodes of his life, were clandestinely produced and disseminated all over the country by travelling salesmen. After his death, coins appeared on the market bearing the inscription 'Napoleon II'. The police were powerless to stop this illicit industry and trade, despite frequent arrests and severe penalties for possession."

Here we have reference to Napoleon II coins appearing in France after Napoleon's death in 1821. Again, if these were not from the "1816" series, where are the examples of these post-1821 coins? I've not seen them.

So in summary, there appears to have been a reference to coins issued under the name of Napoleon II struck in the summer of 1815 according to a contemporary report, coins of Napoleon II dated "1816" circulating in France between 1816 and 1830, and coins appearing in France under the name of Napoleon II in or after 1821. It is also alleged that either these or similar coins were struck under Napoleon III after 1852 but before 1870, or that perhaps they were fantasy coins issued closer to 1900.

Of course, all of these accounts are second hand, though the one from the Duke of Reichstadt's biography does cite an original source document. So is there independent first-hand verification that the "1816" series was actually struck in 1860?

Thanks for any help that may be provided.

Edited by cjh5801
09/25/2020 12:37 am
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 Posted 09/25/2020  06:07 am  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add erafjel to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
That is the most extensive compilation of information on the subject I have seen, impressive.

There is some evidence of late strikes of these trial/essai coins. In the French digital periodical Bulletin Numismatique nr 53 (page 11), it is illustrated how a Napoleon II 2 francs essai is struck on a regular 1871 2 francs coin. They are believed to have been made by a Belgian by the name of Charles Wurden. It is hypothesized that these coins, together with issues of Napoleon IV coins (dated 1874), were some sort of commemorative issues. There is no explanation for the choice of 1816 as date though.

This does not explain the circulation of Napoleon II coins in the 1820s or in 1815. Were there several issues? I have never heard about any Napoleon II coins dated 1815, so either they are exceptionally rare or the Prussian report is mistaken. It refers to events taking place only a few weeks after Napoleon II's "reign" 22 June-7 July. Would it have been possible to design, engrave and strike coins in such a short time, given that conditions in the French capital must have been a bit chaotic? Perhaps not impossible, but it seems to be on the verge.
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 Posted 09/25/2020  07:01 am  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add cjh5801 to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
I realize that a newbie speculating about a coin is opening himself (or herself) up to ridicule, but I've been thinking about my Napoleon II 3-centime piece and "pretender" coins in general. Perhaps there are two types of pretender coins.

One type could be merely political propaganda, struck by partisans for their pretender of choice and circulated to influence public opinion. The second type might be official or semi-official "proof" coins struck by mints that normally minted government coinage in anticipation of a genuine potential ruler. At least some of the "1816" series of Napoleon II coins could belong to this second type.

My reason for thinking of this as a possibility has to do with the word "ESSAI" being added to many French pretender coins, including the "1816" series issued under the name of Napoleon II.

Why would the partisans of a pretender to the throne mark the coinage of their pretender as being a "trial" coin? One would think that a pretender's partisans who are striking a coin in the name of their pretender for political or propaganda purposes would want the coin to appear legitimate, not as a trial strike. One would also think that the date on the coin would be pretty much immaterial, provided that it was on or after the date the pretender made his or her claim.

On the other hand, a mint that was responsible for minting coins for the French government might find it useful to have dies on hand should a credible claimant for the throne actually end up being coronated. Perhaps as with the proof coins for Edward VIII, the date on these trial coins might be the year after the claimant's supposed accession to the throne, when an actual coronation might take place. This would explain why the pretender coins for Henri V are dated 1831, which was one year after he was first considered to be a credible claimant to the French throne, and 1871, one year after the second time he was considered to be a credible claimant once Napoleon III was deposed in 1870. Although the 1831 issue of Henri V's coins doesn't have it, the issue of the Henri V coins dated 1871 includes the word "Essai", which could signify that it was officially or semi-officially struck as a "proof" coin in anticipation of Henri's possible accession to the throne.

In the case of the Duke of Reichstadt, his father, Napoleon I, abdicated the throne in 1815, naming his son as the successor to the throne. There was much debate in the French Senate as to whether the King of Rome should be acknowledged as Napoleon II, but it was temporarily decided that an acknowledgement by the Senate was immaterial since the King of Rome was guaranteed to be the rightful successor to Napoleon under the French Constitution that was supposedly still in effect.

As it turned out, the Allies that had defeated Napoleon at Waterloo later declared that the French Constitution that had been in effect under Napoleon died with his abdication, but there was a brief period in between when the King of Rome could technically be considered as the French Emperor.

Suppose that during this time one or more of the mints that made coinage for the French government decided that it would be a good idea to create dies of coins in the name of Napoleon II. This would most likely have occurred between June 22, 1815, the date that Napoleon abdicated, and on or shortly after July 7, when the Allies entered Paris and made it clear that they would not accept Napoleon's son as the rightful heir.

If an official mint had decided to mint a proof, or "trial", set of coins in the name of Napoleon II during the roughly two-week period following Napoleon I's abdication, it would make sense for them to add the word "Essai" to the coins and date them for an anticipated coronation in 1816.

Once Napoleon II's potential coronation hopes were dashed, these trial coins could have come into the hands of Napoleon's partisans and be sold for inflated prices to his supporters (which might explain why people were reportedly paying 20 times the face value of the 10 and 20-sou coins bearing the likeness of Napoleon II, as mentioned in the Prussian report of August 7, 1815--there would have been a limited number of the official or semi-official proof sets).

If (and it's a big "IF") this is all true, at least the Napoleon II franc and demi-franc coins dated 1816 and marked ESSAI could have been minted in 1815 and have had limited circulation among Napoleon's supporters between 1815 and the early 1830s. There would be little point in continuing to circulate them after July 22, 1832, which is when the Duke of Reichstadt died. This would account for the statement in the Prussian report dated August 7, 1815 that the coins were being sold, the mention in the Numismatist of 1914 that the coins were circulating between 1816 and the early 1830s, and the more recent claim that the coins were in existence at the time of Napoleon's death in 1821.

What's less clear is whether the other coins in the "1816" series date back to the summer of 1815. They aren't mentioned in the Prussian report, so it is possible that they were struck at a later date, such as 1860, during the reign of Napoleon III. Knowing of the existence of the Napoleon II franc and demi-franc minted in 1815, Napoleon III might have decided to complete the set by minting similar coins in the other denominations in 1860 in order to add credence to Napoleon II's claim to the throne. But other than for consistencies sake, it doesn't make much sense for him to have ordered that the coins being added to the set in 1860 include the word "ESSAI". If he had wanted to complete the set for political purposes, it might have been better to give the impression that they were official issues. For this reason, absent additional evidence, I'd think it more likely that the entire series of "1816" Napoleon II coins were minted during the summer of 1815.

As I mentioned, this is mere speculation that undoubtedly opens me up to ridicule, but I think it could be a possibility. I would welcome evidence that I am wrong.
Edited by cjh5801
09/25/2020 08:20 am
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 Posted 09/25/2020  07:19 am  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add cjh5801 to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Well, erafjel, I was busy composing my latest post while you were making your post, so perhaps my speculations have run too far afield (as I feared they might). However, might it be possible that at least some of the coins on the market from the "1816" series are later forgeries, while some are genuine 1815 issues? These generally fetch inflated prices from collectors compared to regular issues, so there would possibly be an incentive to forge them. And I'd note that the date on the Napoleon IV coins marked "ESSAI" are for 1874, which is one year after the death of his father, Napoleon III, in 1873--which fits in with the possibility that at least some of them were from an official or semi-official proof set minted in anticipation of his possible coronation (there was still considerable confusion as to the potential successors to Napoleon III in the early 1870s, such as Henri V's claim in 1870 and his "ESSAI" coinage dated 1871).

Fascinating topic, however.
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 Posted 09/25/2020  07:58 am  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add cjh5801 to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Here are some larger images from the dealer of my 3-centime coin. I'm not seeing any evidence of overstrike, though I'm hardly an expert, the images aren't completely clear and there appears to be some odd residue of some sort or odd design on the extreme left portion of the reverse side.


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 Posted 09/25/2020  09:25 am  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add erafjel to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
I don't think you run much risk of being ridiculed here at CCF, we try to be nice . You have in any event apparently looked more into the subject than most of us, which is worth respecting. I can anyway add my speculations to yours .

I don't think any of the pretender coins were made by official French mints. In the case of Napoleon II, I guess that it in principle that would have been a possibility, since he was in some sense legally emperor for two weeks. But that is a bit short for minting a new type of coin, so I find it unlikely. And after the return and reinstatement of Louis XVIII on July 8th, any such activity would have been considered close to treason. Similar reasons apply to Henri V and Napoleon IV, minting coins for them was in direct contradiction with the sitting government and - I think - hardly something that the government's mint would engage in (not even if there were supporters for the pretenders among their employees).

However, all pretenders had supporters, some with financial resources, and minting coins with their effigy was one way of giving their claims an air of legitimacy, I guess. If the Napoleon II coins were indeed minted in the 1870s (perhaps together with the Napoleon IV coins) that would then have been to legitimize Napoleonic hereditary claims. I don't know if marking the coins with "ESSAI" was a way to evade accusations of forgery.

The 3 centimes Napoleon II - an odd denomination, by the way - is probably not an overstrike. At least there is no good French candidate for a host coin. I guess it was easier to acquire bronze rounds than silver dittos.
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 Posted 09/25/2020  3:09 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add cjh5801 to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Many thanks, erafjel, you make some good points.

However, I can think of only two ways to account for the August 22, 1815 report (I was mistaken about the August 7th date) of the two Napoleon II coins being sold in the Palais Royal if the entire 1816 series was indeed struck in the 1870s. The first would be that the report was mistaken or otherwise untrue, the second would be that the two struck in the summer of 1815 were not a part of the 1816 series. Either of these possibilities could be true.

I didn't mention it, but the August 22, 1815 Prussian report was made by Justus von Gruner (https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Justus_von_Gruner), the chief of the Allied police in France and the director of police for occupied Paris after the final fall of Napoleon in 1815. It was his job to report both seditious activity going on in Paris and rumors of the same, so perhaps the sale of Napoleon II coins was merely a rumor (though an oddly specific one, giving the place of the sale and the amount charged).

On the other hand, Gruner was apparently very good at his job and was highly trusted in Prussia at the time (his premature anti-Napoleon activities had gotten him imprisoned between August 1812 and the autumn of 1813, though all had been forgiven when Prussia became an active part of the Allied powers opposing Napoleon). So let's assume, for the moment, that Gruner's report of at least two denominations of Napoleon II coins being sold in Paris during the summer of 1815 was true.

If all of the 1816 series of Napoleon II coins were minted in the 1870s, and Gruner's report of the two coins in August 1815 is true, then the only other option would appear to me to be that the 1815 coins were not a part of the 1816 series. But if this is so, why have no examples of a separate set been recovered? Although possession of such coins would have fallen under the general ban against showing support for Napoleon in France at the time, 10 and 20 francs would seem to have been a fairly high price to have paid for the coins so you might think that at least someone would have held on to them (plus we have the unverified report that the coins were in circulation until the 1830s). So where are they?

A couple of other points. If there were at least two denominations of Napoleon II coins being circulated by August 22, 1815, the dies would have had to have been prepared no more than two months following Napoleon's second abdication on June 22nd. That's not to say that they were struck by an official government mint during Napoleon II's technical two-week reign (you've swayed me on that one), but the dies would necessarily have been completed shortly thereafter, so I'm not sure that the time necessary to make the dies would have been an obstacle.

Also, if at least some of the 1816 series of coins were struck in the summer of 1815, then it wouldn't seem to make sense to mark them ESSAI in order to avoid charges of forgery. The mere fact that the coins had been produced at all would have been illegal with severe penalties, as would be their sale or possession. So I think we'd need to find another reason for the ESSAI markings.

So why would fake coins struck during the summer of 1815 be dated 1816 and marked ESSAI? Maybe because there was a tradition of striking proof sets (trial strikes) of coins in the name of new French monarchs and dating them one year into the future (and marking them as trial strikes), much as the 1936 proof coins for Edward VIII that were minted in Britain were dated 1937. I haven't collected many French coins, so I don't know if this was truly a practice in France at the time, but perhaps the Napoleon II coins struck in the summer of 1815 were dated 1816 and marked ESSAI in order to give the impression that they were from an official mint set.

But then, if the balance of the 1816 series was in fact minted in 1870, why would it have been necessary to date these later additions 1816 and add the word ESSAI? Just so they'd make a more esthetically pleasing set when displayed next to the two denominations of Napoleon coins struck in 1815? Perhaps, but if they were struck as political propaganda in support of Napoleon IV's pretension to the throne in the 1870s, why would a collector's esthetics come into it?

It's all pretty puzzling, but I'm still inclined to think that at least some of the coins from the 1816 series were actually struck during the summer of 1815. Other than the fact that they weren't mentioned, I also think it likely that the balance of the 1816 set was struck in 1815 as well. So how do I account for the example of the 1870s overstrike of a Napoleon II coin illustrated in the Bulletin Numismatique nr 53? Perhaps it was made in imitation of the actual coins from the earlier set. Just because one 2-franc coin is demonstrably an overstrike of an 1870s coin, it doesn't mean that they all were. The example on the NGC's webpage doesn't appear to be an overstrike (https://www.NGCcoin.com/price-guide...duid-1250283), though perhaps the uneven surface between the toddler's left cheek and left temple looks a bit troubling.

BTW, here's the mention of the two denominations of Napoleon II coins taken from Wertheimer's biography. I mixed up my footnotes, which is why I originally gave the incorrect date of August 7, 1815.

Edited by cjh5801
09/25/2020 3:19 pm
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