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French Pretender Coinage

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Pillar of the Community
United Kingdom
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 Posted 09/26/2020  2:16 pm  Show Profile   Check alganbagerap's eBay Listings Bookmark this reply Add alganbagerap to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
It must be pointed out that at the time of writing, amateur in French indicated someone who did something for love. What we might refer to today as a fan.
My reading of this is that they were made for Bonapartist supporters rather than collectors.
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 Posted 09/26/2020  2:36 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add erafjel to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Good point, alganbagerap. There were probably more Bonapartists than amateur coin collectors around at the time.
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 Posted 09/26/2020  2:49 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add cjh5801 to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply

Quote:
It must be pointed out that at the time of writing, amateur in French indicated someone who did something for love. What we might refer to today as a fan.

My reading of this is that they were made for Bonapartist supporters rather than collectors.


Good point, and something I should have remembered.

Here's another mention of the Napoleon IV coin being struck in England, from The Sydney Morning Herald for July 28, 1874, though it looks like it's from the same source as the paragraph published in Every Saturday.


And another mention of the Napoleon IV coin, this one in The Daily Ogden (Utah) for May 12, 1874. Variations on this story appeared throughout a large number of US newspapers around this time.


Interesting comment about the use of the word ESSAI to avoid any legal problems in France. That might well have worked in 1874, but it's hard to believe that the use of the word on the Napoleon II coinage was intended to do the same. Anti-Napoleon paranoia by the Allied powers and the later French Government was at a much higher fevered pitch in France within the years following Napoleon's abdication.
Edited by cjh5801
09/26/2020 3:04 pm
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 Posted 09/26/2020  3:02 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add cjh5801 to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply

Quote:
In translation:
"The trial coin, the imprint of which we show here, is obviously just an attempt to speculate on the credulity of amateurs. If it had been done by order of the French government, as a protest against the permanence and imprescriptibility of the Empire - Šternitas imperii, - the engraving would be less bad, since then there would be no shortage of financing. Then, too, the date 1816 is a revealing detail that an official manufacture would not let pass. Everybody knows, in fact, that the proclamation of Napoleon II took place in 1815, a few days after the Battle of Waterloo, and that his ephemeral and purely nominal reign lasted only a few days. It is therefore 1815 that should have been placed on this posthumous restitution."

Obviusly the coins were around in 1861, so any connection with the 1874 Napoleon IV coins is clearly out of the question.

In thinking this over, it's a bit hard to disagree with the author's speculation that the Napoleon II coins were not struck at the instigation of Napoleon III (at least not when he was in power). As he says, if they were struck under Napoleon III's authority we could reasonably expect a better quality product. Still not sure as to why he thinks the Napoleon II coins were a posthumous restitution, however.
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 Posted 09/26/2020  3:40 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add cjh5801 to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Bingo! Vindication for Herr Gruner. From the November 1, 1815 edition of The Bury and Norwich Post (paragraphs reformatted to better fit here):

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 Posted 09/26/2020  5:31 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add erafjel to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
That contemporary testimony is strong evidence that these coins were around already in 1815! I must say you have come quite far in just a few days of research, rewriting French numismatic history.

But what also caught my eye in the text was the reference to Sweden as leading a coalition of Bonapartists in restoring Napoleon II ... I have never heard of any such thing and I doubt the truth of it. Sweden was part of the Sixth Coalition that defeated Napoleon in 1814, and I am sure we hadn't changed our sympathies the year after.

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 Posted 09/26/2020  7:14 pm  Show Profile   Check alganbagerap's eBay Listings Bookmark this reply Add alganbagerap to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
"I have never heard of any such thing and I doubt the truth of it. Sweden was part of the Sixth Coalition that defeated Napoleon in 1814, and I am sure we hadn't changed our sympathies the year after."

But, Crown Prince Karl Johan was born Jean Baptiste Jules Bernadotte and was created a Marshal of France by Napoleon, to whom he was related by marriage.
Bernadotte was adopted by the childless (and senile) Charles XIII of Sweden to resolve inheritance difficulties and, to keep keep the major European player of that time, Napoleon I, happy.

He certainly led Sweden in 1813 into the anti Napoleon alliance, possibly through political pragmatism, but may have tempered his views in 1814 when the Treaty of Kiel led to hostilities between Norway & Sweden.
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 Posted 09/26/2020  10:02 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add cjh5801 to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply

Quote:
But what also caught my eye in the text was the reference to Sweden as leading a coalition of Bonapartists in restoring Napoleon II ... I have never heard of any such thing and I doubt the truth of it. Sweden was part of the Sixth Coalition that defeated Napoleon in 1814, and I am sure we hadn't changed our sympathies the year after

As you might imagine, I've gone through a whole lot of articles with news from Paris during 1815 and 1816, and they're full of outlandish rumors about potential coalitions to restore the Bonapartists to power. All of them are baseless and this is actually one of the tamer ones.

Other than occasionally stopping to speculate how history might have changed, I've pretty much learned to ignore anything that is referring to what people in Paris or other parts of France are saying, and concentrating on those parts of the correspondence that include actual eyewitness accounts or are tied to credible news sources. It's almost like the Internet.
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 Posted 09/26/2020  11:18 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add cjh5801 to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
One thing that strikes me in perusing the various news accounts of France following the fall of Napoleon is how the events in that country coincide to a degree with the accounts of the reappearance of Napoleon II coinage in public circulation. We first see reference to Napoleon II coins in 1815, during the struggle to establish a successor government to Napoleon. The next we hear of the coins is in the early 1820s, soon after Napoleon's death, when there are also reports of increasing civil unrest and strife between three political factions: Bonapartists, Republicans, and Royalists. The next reference to the coins is in 1830, which coincides with the July Revolution of 1830 which resulted in Louis Philippe taking the throne. Bonapartists were active participants in the civil unrest surrounding this event.

It almost seems like the Bonapartists would routinely dust off the 1815 Napoleon II coinage and re-circulate it in an effort to stir up public support for their cause during these times of civil unrest.
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 Posted 09/27/2020  12:34 am  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add cjh5801 to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Some intriguing information about the Henri V coins of 1831:

From Berrow's Worcester Journal, July 7,1831:


From The United States Gazette (Philadelphia), August 19, 1831:


From the Aberdeen Journal, November 30, 1836:

Edited by cjh5801
09/27/2020 12:38 am
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 Posted 09/27/2020  12:55 am  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add cjh5801 to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Maybe it's just my sense of humor, but there is something funny about the thought that the origins of the Henri V coins has been a historical mystery, only to find out that they were paid for and struck by his mom.

Edited by cjh5801
09/27/2020 12:55 am
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 Posted 09/27/2020  06:58 am  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add erafjel to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply

Quote:
the origins of the Henri V coins has been a historical mystery, only to find out that they were paid for and struck by his mom

That the 1831-32 issues were commissioned by his mother, the Duchess of Berry, is actually known. Here is a page about it (which also discusses the 1871 issue):http://www.infonumis.info/historiqu..._V/index.htm
(There are pages about the other pretender coins there as well.)


Quote:
But, Crown Prince Karl Johan was born Jean Baptiste Jules Bernadotte and was created a Marshal of France by Napoleon, to whom he was related by marriage.
...
He certainly led Sweden in 1813 into the anti Napoleon alliance, possibly through political pragmatism, but may have tempered his views in 1814 when the Treaty of Kiel led to hostilities between Norway & Sweden.

Jean Baptiste Bernadotte's background and connection with Napoleon are of course well known and documented, him being the ancestor of the current Swedish royal house. It is also no secret that his primary ambition was to succeed Napoleon as emperor or king of France. Becoming king of Sweden, a cold, sparsely populated and in comparison unsophisticated country in the far north, was probably a plan B. But with the French considering him more or less a traitor after his warfare against Napoleon, France was no longer an option. The Treaty of Kiel gave Norway to Sweden and with Great Britain, Russia and Prussia supporting this claim, and after a short and successful military campaign against the recalcitrant Norwegians in 1814, there was no need for Jean Baptiste/Karl Johan to consider changing sides. There was, like in many other countries, Bonapartists in Sweden, and some of them probably had ideas about Napoleon II and his future. But a coalition for his installment as emperor, led by Sweden, is a fantasy, there are no historical records of that.
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 Posted 09/27/2020  09:26 am  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add cjh5801 to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Thanks for the link. Interesting reading.

The fact that there is evidence of deteriorating dies and later re-strikes of others in the Napoleon II 1816 series complicates things a bit, but probably shouldn't be surprising. If these coins were brought out at various times of civil unrest in France from 1815 up to at least the 1870s, they probably would have needed additional stock. It would also explain why it was necessary to create a second die for the 2-franc coin.

I'd say we have evidence that at least the 1, 2, and demi-franc coins can date back to 1815, based on the testimony of Gruner and the letter to the The Bury and Norwich Post. I wonder if the entire 1816 series was initially struck in 1815, or if the set filled out over the years. Probably the latter, as some denominations have stars on the reverse and some do not.
Edited by cjh5801
09/27/2020 09:41 am
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 Posted 09/27/2020  4:55 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add cjh5801 to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Well, we now know that the 3-centime coin extends back to at least the 1860s as well. This is from an 1863 edition of Notes and Queries:
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 Posted 09/27/2020  9:28 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add cjh5801 to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Another book that cites original source references to coinage in France bearing the likeness of Napoleon II: The Legend of Napoleon by Sudhir Hazareesingh (2014, translated from a French volume published in 2005).




FYI, I've cut and pasted text and pertinent footnotes to combine information from multiple pages to save space.

The various police reports cited demonstrate that Napoleon II coins were widely circulated in great number between 1815 and at least 1830 (the end of the Restoration), and we've seen the physical evidence that such coins were struck into the 1870s.
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