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Early American – French Colonies (1670-1767)



  
Several nations of Western Europe vied for territory and trade in the New World after 1492, France among these. Its influence in North America was first developed during the 16th Century and grew until the 18th Century, at which point France began to lose its North American possessions through treaty-ordered reparations. Nouvelle France at one time consisted of northeastern Canada, Acadia, Louisiana and Plaisance (Newfoundland). The greater part of this territory was lost to Britain and Spain as a result of the Seven Years War (1756-63), reducing French possessions to just the islands of St. Pierre and Miquelon off the coast of Newfoundland. France later reacquired the Spanish portion of Louisiana, west of the Mississippi River, only to sell it to the United States in 1803. Napoleon, engaged in a war with several European nations, needed cash more than he needed distant lands of unknown worth.

From 1670-1767 there were several series of coins struck by mints in France for use in that nation’s overseas colonies, though none were produced for use specifically in what is now the United States. There’s only spotty evidence that these were a part of our American history, yet they’ve been sought by collectors of early American issues for many years and are included in several books on United States and related coinage.
The first such issue consisted of three denominations struck during the reign of Louis XIIII by the Paris Mint and dated 1670-A. The copper double denier was produced in a very small quantity, and just a single example is known today. The most often seen of these early pieces is the silver 5 sols. Like the much more scarce silver 15 sols, this coin bears a portrait bust of the king on its obverse and the crowned, royal arms on its reverse.
In 1717 the Perpignan Mint (mintmark Q) struck small quantities of copper six and 12 denier pieces, but this coinage was aborted due to problems with the alloy. Both issues are quite rare. In 1720 the Paris Mint again struck copper 6 deniers and silver 20 sols coins (1720-A) in slightly greater numbers, but these coins are also rather elusive today. Both series featured a portrait bust of Louis XV on their obverses, but the 1717-Q coins carried only text on their reverses. On the 1720 series the six deniers piece displays three fleur de lis of the Bourbon Dynasty surmounted by the royal crown. The 20 sols coin exhibits opposed letters L surmounted by the crown.
A more abundant run of copper coins was undertaken in 1721-22, and these were the first pieces to actually be inscribed COLONIES FRANCOISES. This declaration dominates the obverse of each coin, and the reverse features crossed letters L surmounted by the royal crown. The rarity in this series is the 1721-B (Rouen Mint) sou (nine deniers). Far more common are similar coins dated 1721-H (La Rochelle) and 1722-H. The latter issue is also known overdated as 2/1. This series of coins is among those known to have circulated in North America, and an earlier generation knew them as Louisiana Coppers.
Another issue of sou coinage dated 1767-A was fairly extensive. It was also a more polished product, and these copper coins carry a very appealing design. The obverse depicts crossed maces dividing the letters L and XV, with the mintmark above. In two arcs across the top are the words COLONIES FRANCOISES. The reverse features three fleur de lis enclosed within a wreath that is surmounted by the royal crown. Most of this issue was counterstamped RF on the reverse, this standing for Republique Francaise.
By far the most extensive and abundant coinage for France’s New World colonies was also that having the greatest claim to having circulated in what is now the USA. The billon (debased silver) coins dated 1709-13 were struck in denominations of 15 and 30 deniers over several years. More than 122 million pieces were struck of the 30 deniers at the Lyon (D) Mint, and both denominations were coined in lesser numbers at the Metz (AA) Mint. Also struck in billon were half sou marque and sou marque pieces dated 1738-60 from numerous French mints, but the claim of these coins to North American circulation is more tenuous. They were intended primarily for France’s Caribbean colonies, but some undoubtedly made their way to the port city of New Orleans in the normal course of trade.

Coins in Category

1670A FRENCH COLONIES 5S MS 1670A FRENCH COLONIES 15S MS 1717Q FRENCH COLONIES 6D MS 1720A FRENCH COLONIES 6D MS 1717Q FRENCH COLONIES 12D MS 1720A FRENCH COLONIES 20S MS 1720B FRENCH COLONIES 20S MS 1720BB FRENCH COLONIES 20S MS 1720C FRENCH COLONIES 20S MS 1720R FRENCH COLONIES 20S MS 1720S FRENCH COLONIES 20S MS 1713AA FRENCH COLONIES 15D MS 1709AA FRENCH COLONIES 30D MS 1710AA FRENCH COLONIES 30D MS 1710D FRENCH COLONIES 30D MS 1711AA FRENCH COLONIES 30D MS 1711D FRENCH COLONIES 30D MS 1712AA FRENCH COLONIES 30D MS 1712D FRENCH COLONIES 30D MS 1713AA FRENCH COLONIES 30D MS 1713D FRENCH COLONIES 30D MS 1739P FRENCH COLONIES 1/2SM MS 1739W FRENCH COLONIES 1/2SM MS 1740A FRENCH COLONIES 1/2SM MS 1740AA FRENCH COLONIES 1/2SM MS 1740B FRENCH COLONIES 1/2SM MS 1740BB FRENCH COLONIES 1/2SM MS 1740D FRENCH COLONIES 1/2SM MS 1746A FRENCH COLONIES 1/2SM MS 1738A FRENCH COLONIES 1SM MS 1738BB FRENCH COLONIES 1SM MS 1738O FRENCH COLONIES 1SM MS 1738P FRENCH COLONIES 1SM MS 1739A FRENCH COLONIES 1SM MS 1739/2A FRENCH COLONIES 1SM MS 1739/8A FRENCH COLONIES 1SM MS 1739B FRENCH COLONIES 1SM MS 1739AA FRENCH COLONIES 1SM MS 1739BB FRENCH COLONIES 1SM MS 1739C FRENCH COLONIES 1SM MS 1739D FRENCH COLONIES 1SM MS 1739E FRENCH COLONIES 1SM MS 1739G FRENCH COLONIES 1SM MS 1739H FRENCH COLONIES 1SM MS 1739O FRENCH COLONIES 1SM MS 1739P FRENCH COLONIES 1SM MS 1739R FRENCH COLONIES 1SM MS 1739S FRENCH COLONIES 1SM MS 1739V FRENCH COLONIES 1SM MS 1739W FRENCH COLONIES 1SM MS 1739X FRENCH COLONIES 1SM MS 1739)( FRENCH COLONIES 1SM MS 1739Z FRENCH COLONIES 1SM MS 1740A FRENCH COLONIES 1SM MS 1740B FRENCH COLONIES 1SM MS 1740C FRENCH COLONIES 1SM MS 1740D FRENCH COLONIES 1SM MS 1740E FRENCH COLONIES 1SM MS 1740O FRENCH COLONIES 1SM MS 1740P FRENCH COLONIES 1SM MS 1740T FRENCH COLONIES 1SM MS 1740V FRENCH COLONIES 1SM MS 1740X FRENCH COLONIES 1SM MS 1740)( FRENCH COLONIES 1SM MS 1741A FRENCH COLONIES 1SM MS 1741/0B FRENCH COLONIES 1SM MS 1741/38B FRENCH COLONIES 1SM MS 1741BB FRENCH COLONIES 1SM MS 1741O FRENCH COLONIES 1SM MS 1741D FRENCH COLONIES 1SM MS 1741G FRENCH COLONIES 1SM MS 1741P FRENCH COLONIES 1SM MS 1741/39R FRENCH COLONIES 1SM MS 1741V FRENCH COLONIES 1SM MS 1741/39BB FRENCH COLONIES 1SM MS 1742B FRENCH COLONIES 1SM MS 1742/1B FRENCH COLONIES 1SM MS 1742BB FRENCH COLONIES 1SM MS 1742C FRENCH COLONIES 1SM MS 1742H FRENCH COLONIES 1SM MS 1742K FRENCH COLONIES 1SM MS 1743C FRENCH COLONIES 1SM MS 1743P FRENCH COLONIES 1SM MS 1743W FRENCH COLONIES 1SM MS 1744A FRENCH COLONIES 1SM MS 1744BB FRENCH COLONIES 1SM MS 1741/0C FRENCH COLONIES 1SM MS 1744C FRENCH COLONIES 1SM MS 1744E FRENCH COLONIES 1SM MS 1744K FRENCH COLONIES 1SM MS 1744P FRENCH COLONIES 1SM MS 1744W FRENCH COLONIES 1SM MS 1745H FRENCH COLONIES 1SM MS 1745W FRENCH COLONIES 1SM MS 1746E FRENCH COLONIES 1SM MS 1746W FRENCH COLONIES 1SM MS 1747W FRENCH COLONIES 1SM MS 1748A FRENCH COLONIES 1SM MS 1749A FRENCH COLONIES 1SM MS 1750/48A FRENCH COLONIES 1SM MS 1751A FRENCH COLONIES 1SM MS 1751C FRENCH COLONIES 1SM MS 1752A FRENCH COLONIES 1SM MS 1753A FRENCH COLONIES 1SM MS 1754A FRENCH COLONIES 1SM MS 1755A FRENCH COLONIES 1SM MS 1755/4A FRENCH COLONIES 1SM MS 1757A FRENCH COLONIES 1SM MS 1757/0A FRENCH COLONIES 1SM MS 1757/6A FRENCH COLONIES 1SM MS 1758A FRENCH COLONIES 1SM MS 1758/4A FRENCH COLONIES 1SM MS 1759/8A FRENCH COLONIES 1SM MS 1760A FRENCH COLONIES 1SM MS 1761A FRENCH COLONIES 1SM MS 1762A FRENCH COLONIES 1SM MS 1762BB FRENCH COLONIES 1SM MS 1763A FRENCH COLONIES 1SM MS 1763/2A FRENCH COLONIES 1SM MS 1764A FRENCH COLONIES 1SM MS 1721B FRENCH COLONIES 9D MS 1721H FRENCH COLONIES 9D MS 1722H FRENCH COLONIES 9D MS 1722/1H FRENCH COLONIES 9D MS 1767A FRENCH COLONIES 1S MS 1767A 'RF' STAMP FRENCH COLONIES 1S MS

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