World Coins

French collection formed by an American in MDC auction

A hybrid France 5-centime/10-centime essai, or pattern, coin in gold dates to 1912. It is part of an Oct. 11 auction of a collection formed by an American.

Images courtesy of MDC Monaco.

An American coin collector’s collection of French coins, a 35-year endeavor, is scheduled for auction in Monaco.

MDC Monaco will offer the 540-lot auction on Oct. 11.

The collector focused on obtaining high grade decimal coins of France minted from 1789 to 1940. The focus later expanded to included essais (patterns) and off-metal pieces, like a 1912 gold pattern coin carrying both 5- and 10-centime denomination markings.

One side is denominated 5 centimes and the other side is denominated 10 centimes, and the coin is struck in gold. None of that makes much sense in the context of issued coinage — the standard 5- and 10-centime coins with a hole were struck in copper-nickel, and they didn’t debut until 1914  for the 5 centimes and 1917 for the 10 centimes.

Design for a pattern

The obverse of this holed hybrid coin shows a female allegory of Agriculture at left and a man representing Industry at right. Each reaches out holding onto the arm of the other as they gaze affectionately at each other.

The signature of the designer, H. Varenne, appears beneath the center hole, with the denomination as 5 CENT.

The reverse shows a laurel branch wrapping around a fasces, the date below, and the denomination as 10 CENT across the center. The word ESSAI is at lower left.

The coin weighs 7.41 grams and measures 21 millimeters in diameter, about the size of a Jefferson 5-cent coin but almost 50% heavier.

The example in the auction is one of two known and is the only graded example, according to MDC, and is graded Mint State 64 by Numismatic Guaranty Co.

The coin has a pre-sale estimate of €8,000 ($8,557 U.S)

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