Featured France - Ecu de Six Livres de La Convention - 1793.

Discussion in 'World Coins' started by Eduard, Apr 5, 2019.

  1. Eduard

    Eduard Supporter**

    I would like to ask if anybody here has experience or knowledge concerning the Ecu de Six livres struck by the French National Convention during the revolutionary year of 1793.

    I have two examples in my collection, one struck at Lyon (Atelier D), the other at Lille (Atelier W).

    The Lille raises some question for me as it shows some anomalies not seen on coins of this type: first, it displays a die break on reverse which, I think, was the reason for the weak strike which can be seen in places.

    The other anomaly is the irregular spacing of the date, specially the '9' which is wildly out of line with the rest of the digits in the date.

    It have observed neither of these anomalies on any of the Ecu de Six Livres from Lille listed on Acsearch. Wider internet searches have also revealed nothing.

    The coin otherwise conforms well to the nominal specification for the Ecu de Six Livres de la Convention which are: diameter of 38,5 mm, nominal weight of 29,23g.
    The edge of my piece reads, in high relief, 'Dieu Protege La France'.

    So there you have it: if anybody has some experience on these, strike characteristics, general appearance, etc regarding this issue, I would greatly appreciate it.


    Ecu de Six Livres Lille 1793 OBV1 N - 1.jpg Ecu de Six Livres Lille 1793 REV1 N - 1.jpg Ecu de Six Livres 1793 D Lyon full picture - 1.jpg
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  3. cpm9ball

    cpm9ball CANNOT RE-MEMBER

    I don't collect these, but I have to wonder if it is the "9" that is positioned wrongly or is it the rest of the date (17 3)? Note the position of the dot to the right of the "3". It seems to line up with the "9" rather than the rest of the date. Also, I do not know if the entire date is, or is not, placed on the die by hand.

    FWIW, I do collect a lot of 19th century French medals, and I know that the Paris Mint had to make changes for the inclusion of the "Different" (mintmark) on the edge of the medals in 1841 because of continued problems with counterfeiters. Is it possible that this coin is a counterfeit, too?

    These are merely my observations, not answers.

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  4. Seattlite86

    Seattlite86 Outspoken Member

    No knowledge here you can’t read on numista.com, but I’m a fan of the coin :)
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  5. Eduard

    Eduard Supporter**

    Thank you for your comments, Chris and Seattlite.

    In an attempt to learn more about the Ecu de Six Livres of the Convention I have researched internet sources and am surprised at the general lack of information on them, how made, varieties known, etc.

    They were minted for a short time only during very difficult times and this may be an explanation. The town of Lille where this coin was minted, for example, had been under siege just the year before by the Austrians and this may account for somewhat sloppy die manufacture.

    I have also obviously considered the possibility the coin is a counterfeit. However, here again, the internet makes no mention of any 'faux' Ecus de Six Livres from this mint (only from the Paris mint, in silvered copper. Only one example illustrated which I am attaching to this post).
    The appearance, design, edge device, strike and weight of my coin all appear correct.

    Counterfeit Ecu de Six Livres Paris L'an II OBV - 1.jpg Counterfeit Ecu de Six Livres Paris 1793 L'an II REV - 1.jpg
    Last edited: Apr 6, 2019
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  6. Seattlite86

    Seattlite86 Outspoken Member

    I like the explanation on why there might have been some issues with the coin. Yours certainly looks to be authentic, at least in terms of the correct metal base. I’m doubtful there are many people who have even heard of this coin, so I think you’re correct in assuming there to be few, if any, counterfeits. If anything, I’d assume them to be contemporary ones in an attempt to pass them off as a higher denomination (like the one you showed).
  7. Eduard

    Eduard Supporter**

    Thank you, @Seattlite86.

    The Ecu de Six Livres de la Convention is actually a vey historical coin. It was minted by the Convention Nationale after King Louis XVI was deposed in 1792 and ultimately put to death at the guillotine on January 21st 1793.

    The intent was to remove all symbols of the monarchy from the coinage. The design is simple yet very appealing and symbolic, depicting the genius of Liberty inscribing CONSTITUTION on a tablet and the legend REGNE DE LA LOI on the perimeter and the date on exergue. The reverse depicts an oak wreath with the mark of value.

    The Convention Nationale of the new French Republic faced great difficulties in the period following the king's execution: loyalists conspired to revolt, and foreign powers (Prussian and Austria) threatened the fledgling country with invasion.

    The result was that the Convention became increasingly repressive due to a climate of suspicion and oppression. Instead of becoming a "Regne de la Loi" (Reign of law and Order), it became a "Regne de la Terreur" (Reign of Terror) which ultimately also consumed the leaders and inspirers of the French Revolution, including Robespierre, who also died at the guillotine.

    If anybody is interested, the following described the coinage of the French Revolution, as well as a brief historical background.

    Last edited: Apr 6, 2019
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  8. Seattlite86

    Seattlite86 Outspoken Member

    Very cool history lesson. I've bookmarked the link, thank you! :) Edit: will have to brush up on that one semester of French I took in 2007.
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  9. Eduard

    Eduard Supporter**

    From what I have heard you speak, that should be no problem:).

    By the way, I think the French Revolution, and in particular the "Reign of Terror" that ensued during which many revolutionaries themselves fell victim to the guillotine was the origin of the phrase: "La Revolution Mange ses Enfants".
    In English: "The Revolution Consumes its Own Children".

    As true today as it was so many years ago.
    Last edited: Apr 6, 2019
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  10. ffrickey

    ffrickey Junior Member

    For comparison, here is my (well-worn) Ecu à six livres 1793D (Lyon). Here the date looks regular. The edge reads LIBERTÉ - EGALITÉ. 29 g, 39 mm. FREcu6Livres1793D.jpg
  11. Seattlite86

    Seattlite86 Outspoken Member

    Very interesting to note the subtle differences between the two coins. Is it possible that they are so different because they come from different dies that were made?
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  12. Eduard

    Eduard Supporter**

    Thank you very much for posting your coin and your comments. That is a nice example of the Ecu de Six Livres de la Convention, minted at Lyon.
    I find the edge device on these large coins specially interesting since they were impressed in high relief and are therefore very susceptible to early wear.

    Yes! from my observations, various die marriages were used at each of the mints to strike these coins. Not only different from mint to mint, but also within a particular mint. As far as I can see, there is no concise study reporting these differences in die marriages, except for the major varieties. One of the major (and very scarce!) varieties were struck wi the the legend FRANCAISE (only struck at Strasbourg), instead of the common FRANCOISE. Another variety does not bear a a Gregorian calendar date, only the revolutionary date.
    Last edited: Apr 8, 2019
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  13. Steve scribner

    Steve scribner New Member

  14. Steve scribner

    Steve scribner New Member

    Hey sorry to bother you but I see that comment about the counterfeit six livres and wondering where you got the information from. I have a Paris mint counterfeit and I cant find any information on it. Thanks so much!
  15. Eduard

    Eduard Supporter**

    I finally found again the reference for that 'faux d'epoque' Contemporary countefeit of an Ecu de 6 Livres. Here it is:


    Just scroll down the page, you'll see it.
  16. Steve scribner

    Steve scribner New Member

  17. Gallienus

    Gallienus Well-Known Member

    Somehow I just saw this thread. I've a couple of ecus (starting at 1709 Lyons) and of course the Revolutionary period is quite interesting for anyone in this field. I don't know too much about these coins but will post my one 1793 Constitutional ecu. I had an interesting "incident" with one of these when I tried to buy the "No Christian Date" Constitutional ecu, I think it was out of the Harvey Stack's collection maybe 10 years ago.

    I've since delisted my French collection so I've neither photos on my computer nor on-line. I should have the photos on a DVD or M-disc backup somewhere so I'll look tonight and post the photos. I'm actually planning on selling a lot of my French collection at the NYICS in 2021 so as to focus on my more active areas.
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  18. Gallienus

    Gallienus Well-Known Member

    Here's my ecu of the Convention. I found the photo backup on my external HDD which I'm using for centralizing all coin photos.

    This is a nice ms specimen bought sight seen at the NYICS in 1999 or 2000 when it was still held at the World Trade Center. It was in a Stack's auction I recall.

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  19. Eduard

    Eduard Supporter**

    Very nice! Do you still have it? It is a superb example of the type.

    Paris mint (Atelier A) is by far the most common, but this is a great example.
  20. Gallienus

    Gallienus Well-Known Member

    Thanks for the comments. Yes I still have it. The early French coins were beautifully and well made and they put a lot of pride into their coinage. I don't know enough about the history of the times to know why the French should be able to continuously strike large silver ecus & minor coins at a plethora of mints all during the 1700's and England should have such a hard time striking very few silver crowns and almost no half crowns, and shillings during that whole period. What did the people use as currency? The rest of Europe apparently had little problem striking silver tho as we can tell from the abudence of thalers during that era.

    Immediately following this were the famous Union et Force crowns of the 5 man French Directory, which replaced the Convention. Phillippe Theret, who specialized in these pieces told me that I was cursed in my inability to ever get one.
    Last edited: Feb 4, 2020
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  21. jgenn

    jgenn World Crown Collector

    Whenever silver was worth more than its face value, it left circulation. France repeatedly inflated the face value during this time -- think of the often restruck silver issues during Louis XVI's reign -- so continued to circulate. See Gresham's Law.
    Last edited: Feb 4, 2020
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