From the Grading Room: 1767-A French Colonies Copper Sou

Posted on 4/17/2013

This wonderful coin graded MS 63 BN is the first uncirculated, non-counterstamped example certified by NGC.

Recently submitted for certification was this French Colonies copper piece, the finest example certified by NGC. Although struck in Paris, these coins have long been collected by collectors of US Colonial coins because they circulated in Louisiana at a value of one cent beginning in the 1790s and into the 19th Century.

A large number — 1.6 million — were struck in Paris in 1767 for circulation in the French Antilles. The relatively unadorned obverse reads COLONIES FRANÇOISES [French Colonies], and L. XV [Louis XV, then king]. A mintmark, A [Paris Mint], appears above. The reverse shows a three fleur-de-lys within a crowned wreath, a symbol of the Bourbon kings. The legend reads SIT NOMEN DOMINI BENEDICTUM [Blessed be the name of the Lord] with the date 1767.

1767-A French Colonies Sou
Click images to enlarge.

Curiously very few of these tokens were released into circulation. In 1793, the vast majority of them were counterstamped with ‘RF’ [Republic Française] within an oval. As the monarchy had just ended, the counterstamp was placed atop the lys, thereby obliterating the Royal monogram.

Although not truly rare by Colonial coinage standards, examples without counterstamps are appreciably scarcer than counterstamped pieces. Uncirculated examples of both types are indeed very scarce, with only a handful of uncirculated coins extant of the non-counterstamped variety. Scholar Walter Breen described these pieces as “prohibitively rare choice.”

The coin recently certified by NGC as MS 63 BN is the finest example yet graded by NGC. Struck from late state dies, dies rust diminishes the high point detail, but the surfaces are fresh, lustrous and fully choice uncirculated with a pleasing, even medium brown color.

From the Grading Room is an occasional feature of the NGC E-mail Newsletter in which we highlight some of the more unusual or seldom seen items submitted for certification. Click to explore other special finds.

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