Philippe IV, 1296
Duplessy 208; Friedberg 254, PCGS graded AU-55
The masse d’or was struck by Philip IV from 1296 to 1310 ostensibly to serve as the French equivalent to a double florin. While this coin was equivalent in weight to the double florin, it contained a reduced gold content (only 0.916 pure as opposed to the expected 1.000) alloyed with copper. The addition of copper made the coin much harder than the pure gold of a true double-florin and gained it the nickname royal dur (“hard royal”). By circulating a coin with a lower gold content, Philip IV sought to stretch his financial resources at a time when he was embroiled in expensive wars against England, Flanders and Aragon. Indeed, the royal debt increasingly spiraled out of control, leading Philip IV not only to debase the coinage, but also to eliminate his creditors through decidedly tyrannical means. In 1306, he expelled the Jews from France and in the following year he engineered the repression of the Knights Templar, thereby erasing the two greatest banking bodies in the kingdom.
10 January 1296. + PhILIPPVS DEI GRA FRANChORVM REXking seated facing, holding scepter and fleur de lis, within polylobe. Reverse: + XPC VINCIT XPC REGNAT XPC ImMPERAT, cross feuillue and fleuronnée with lis in the angles; all within quadrilobe.
Purchased privately from Goldberg, 1 January 2007