Charles V, 1365

Duplessy 360; Friedberg 284, PCGS graded MS-65

Despite the desperate conditions under which the franc was introduced in 1360, the denomination was ultimately destined to become the standard French gold coin and evolved into the basic denomination of modern French currency until its replacement by the Euro in 1999. Charles V initially followed the model of his father’s franc in 1364, but in the following year produced a slightly lighter coin (3.824 g vs. the original 3.885 g) although both were still valued at 20 sous tournois. The franc of 1364 features the original mounted king design of Jean II, but the lighter franc of 1365 shows the king standing facing wearing his armor and holding a sword and the Main de Justice (“Hand of Justice”) scepter. This new bellicose image of the king seems to be a response to previous English victories, as if to say that while England had won the victories against his father, they had not won the Hundred Years’ War and Charles was still prepared to fight for France. In order to distinguish the two coins in accounting, the former came to be known as the franc à cheval (“on horseback”) and the latter as the franc à pied (“on foot”).

20 April 1365. + KAROLVS DI GR FRAnCORV REX, king standing facing within portico, holding sword and scepter surmounted by Hand of Justice; seven lis to left and right. Reverse: + XPC VINCIT XPC REGNAT XPC IMPERAT, voided short cross potent over cross fleurée, alternating lis and crown in angles; all within polylobe with lis in each spandrel.

Purchased privately from Goldberg, 1 January 2007