World Coins

French silver franc turned into satirical medal in auction

An unknown artist modified an 1869-A silver franc from France into a satirical medal poking fun at Napoleon III after his disastrous loss in the 1870 Battle of Sedan.

Images courtesy of Classical Numismatic Group.

A French silver franc served as the canvas for an artist to satirize Napoleon III’s loss during the Battle of Sedan.

The satirical “medal” sold during Classical Numismatic Group’s April 3 auction, realizing $72 including the 20% buyer’s fee.

The coin was altered to depict the famous ruler (grandson of the more-famous ruler Napoleon) in a stippled Prussian pickelhaube, with chain around his neck, and was made circa 1870, according to the auction house.

The Battle of Sedan was fought across two days, Sept. 1 and 2, 1870, during the Franco-Prussian War, in the French village of Sedan.

The fight led to the capture of Emperor Napoleon III and more than 100,000 troops, effectively deciding the war in favor of Prussia and its allies, though fighting continued under a new French government.

The coin measures 26 millimeters in diameter and weighs 4.94 grams, or about the dimensions of a U.S. small dollar, but nearly half as heavy.

The coin-turned-artwork was previously offered by CNG in its Nov. 3, 2021, auction of the J. Eric Engstrom Collection, where it realized $118, including the 18 percent buyer’s fee.

The Battle of Sedan satirical piece was among six modified French coins satirizing Napoleon III offered in the April auction.

For full details of these pieces, visit the firm’s website,

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