France honors historic coin on contemporary commemorative

Heavy silver coin from late 15th century being revived
By , Coin World
Published : 01/22/16
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The teston, the first heavy silver coin of France, is making a return to French currency.

The Monnaie de Paris on Feb. 1 is issuing silver and gold coins honoring the historic issue. 

Four Proof versions of the teston tribute coin are available — a .900 fine silver €10 coin, .999 fine gold €10 coin, .920 fine gold €50 and a .920 fine gold €100 coin.

The teston is the third subject in a seven-year series begun in 2014 to celebrate historic coins of French history, following the Charles the Bald denier (2014) and the franc à cheval (2015).

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During the Italian wars (1494), King Louis XII of France discovered an earlier coinage issue known as the teston, which is characterized by the innovative presence of a portrait. The portrait gave the denomination its name (“testa” is Italian for “head”).

The first testons struck in France were under Francis I (1515 to 1547) in Paris and in various workshops in the kingdom, with the designs changing to reflect the advancing age of the king.

The teston highlighted on the reverse of the modern coins dates to 1540 to 1547, and marks the end of the reign of the sovereign. The king wears a crown and a breastplate, following an aesthetic inspired by antiquity, typical of the French Renaissance that was then in vogue.

The shared reverse shows portions of the obverse and reverse of the teston, with a background pattern including Leonardo Da Vinci’s Vitruvian Man, Francis I’s blazon and Chambord castle.

The shared obverse of the coins depicts Louis-Oscar Roty’s Sower design in a more contemporary setting, circled by the 12 stars of the European flag, framed with a heraldic French flag, and various inscriptions.

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