French Gold Coins
French Gold Coins
The Monnaie de Paris, or the Paris Mint, was established over 1,100 years ago. This true relic is the producer of the French Angel coin, the French Rooster coin, and the Napoleon coin. The Monnaie itself also houses several collections of ancient coins.
The French Angel
The Angel coin has long been considered a lucky charm for many countries. While the French Angel's lucky reputation began in France, as time went on, other countries began to adopt this belief as well.
The French Angel design was fashioned by Augustine Dupré in 1792. Dupré is said to have been inspired by his fascination with guardian angels because of his design which showcases an angel writing what is presumed to be a democratic French constitution. This presumed democracy posed a threat to King Louis XVI's monarchy, which may have been the cause for Dupré's later incarceration and death sentence.
Luckily, Dupré was able to maneuver his way out of being executed by bribing a guard with a French Angel coin. This "lucky" occurrence is what gave the coin its reputation in France. This belief was bolstered and believed even up to the 1990s.
In the 1800s, French captains refused to launch their ships without a lucky angel coin. It's even rumored that Napoleon Bonaparte was able to win so many battles because he carried an angel coin. Bonaparte lost in Waterloo because he supposedly lost his lucky angel coin the day before the battle at Waterloo. World War I and II pilots from France, Britain, and the United States would carry the coins while fighting, as well. Even during the 1990s Gulf War, pilots would carry French Angel coins for luck.
The French Rooster
Some French coins, such as the 20 Franc Rooster gold coins were officially re-struck at the Paris Mint. The 20 Franc Rooster gold coin was re-struck in 1921 and from 1951-1960.
The rooster symbol for France is a bit of an accident. During the ancient Roman rule of France, Suetonius of the Twelve Caesars noticed the homonymic similarities of the Latin Gallia, or Gaul, the area of France, and gallus, the Latin word for rooster. Since then, the rooster has been equated as being a symbol of France.
There were several different denomination French gold coins manufactured, but perhaps the most common was the 20 Franc Napoleon III, 20 Franc Angel, and 20 Franc Rooster. All of the 20 Franc coins are .900 fine and contain .1867 troy ounces of gold.
French gold coins are an excellent way to add some diversity to a gold bullion portfolio since they are typically sold at a low premium relative to spot.