This 20 Franc gold coin displays a portrait of Napoleon III on the obverse. This is the second version of the Napoleon III 20 Franc; the first variety (issued from 1853 to 1860) shows the emperor with a bare head. On this second edition, Napoleon III is wearing a laureate wreath, which is an ancient Roman symbol of success and prestige. The inscription “NAPOLEON III EMPEREUR” encircles the portrait. The engraver’s last name (“BARRE”) appears at the bottom of the obverse.
The reverse displays an intricately engraved royal coat of arms surrounded by the date, denomination, and country of origin. The mintmark appears towards the bottom of the coin; “A” implies that the coin was struck in Paris, while “BB” indicates that it was made in Strasbourg. Whereas the earlier 1853-1860 version of the Napoleon III 20 Franc showed a simple wreath, the 1861-1870 reverse has a decidedly regal appearance.
The volatile reign of Napoleon III began with a coup d’etat that took France by surprise. The French leader declared an end to the republic and named himself emperor for life. Consistent with other French monarchs, Napoleon III immediately placed himself on the country’s coinage. His tenure as emperor was characterized by turmoil and strife, but he projected an appearance of importance and success on France’s coinage.
This edition of the 20 Franc is typically seen in heavily circulated grades. The average specimen is likely to grade Very Fine (VF) or Extremely Fine (XF) at best. Almost Uncirculated (AU) examples like this are very much the exception. These NGC-graded specimens are significantly above the norm in terms of condition, yet can be bought for a relatively modest premium.
Each coin is encapsulated in a sonically-sealed and tamper-proof NGC holder. The coin’s date, mintmark, and grade are displayed clearly on the paper insert inside the holder.
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|Metals Purity||.900 Fine Gold|
|Condition||Au or Better|
|Certificate of Authenticity||NGC|