Napoleon I Bonaparte, L’An 13-A (1804)

KM 664.1; Friedberg 481, PCGS graded MS-63+

Napoleon was not content to rule France under the guise of a pseudo-republican First Consul. His true desire was to be an absolute monarch—something that was should have been extremely distasteful in light of the recent French Revolution. Using assassination plots and the general fear of a Bourbon restoration as pretexts, Napoleon had himself elected Emperor of the French through a plebiscite. He was crowned Emperor on December 2, 1804, using both a golden laurel wreath made for the occasion and a replica of the crown of Charlemagne. Interestingly, while Napoleon had been crowned in 1804, the coinage does not depict him wearing the imperial wreath until 1807. Indeed, until 1806 coins naming Emperor Napoleon, like the present 40-franc piece and associated 20-franc pieces, still carried dates according to the Revolutionary dating era. As Emperor, Napoleon worked hard to completely undermine the republican ideals of the Revolution, but he was not yet in a position to openly reveal himself as a new kind of absolutist.

Paris. Head of Napoleon I left. Reverse: Denomination within wreath.

Ex Heritage (7 September 2017), 30734