Louis XIV 1/2 Ecu 1701 BB

Started by Andrey5, July 09, 2012, 03:40:45 PM

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Andrey5

I have this 1/2 Ecu 1701 mint in Strasbourg which I could not find in the Krause catalogue. 
The French catalogues I have cover the period after 1789. Could any forum member be kind enough to check French catalogues covering the royal period and let me know the mintage and valuations of this coin with BB mint mark?
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Figleaf

This is in principle Gadoury 189, Duplessy 1534. Mintage unknown, overstruck on a "demi-écu aux palmes". The fact that it was overstruck is indicated by the clover leaf behind the date. Above the crown, you see remnants of the palm leaves flanking a similar shield on the older coin. Further remnants are within the shield.

The problem is the mintmark. There are no records for this coin struck in Strassbourg. My first thought was a double struck punch from Rouen (B), because the two Bs seem uncharacteristically far apart, but that is impossible, because the mark of the "directeur de l'atelier", a lozenge, is of Strassbourg (François Fodere).

Next two possibilities are that it isn't a half écu or that it is a mule. Please provide the weight and diameter of your coin, so we can pursue those avenues.

Peter
An unidentified coin is a piece of metal. An identified coin is a piece of history.

Andrey5

The date of the coin on which this one was overstruck seems to be visible as 1694.
The weight is 13,14 g, diameter varies between 34,5 and 35 mm
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Figleaf

Thank you. The diameter establishes that it is indeed a demi-écu, officially 32-35 mm. The weight is interesting. The official weight of the original 1694 coin was 13.544 grams. Unsurprisingly, that is also the official weight of the overstrike. However, Strasbourg struck types meant for exclusive circulation in the Alsace on a different weight standards. Their demi-écus should weigh 15.344 grams and the coins were slightly larger (officially 37 mm.) We can conclude that the flan was not of the Alsatian standard.

Looking again at your coin, it seems that the die was just a bit too large for the flan (pearl circle partly missing). The design, including the "wide" BB monogram, seems to be - as far as I can see - the same as that of Gadoury 193, demi-écu 1701BB. However, that die seems to fit the flan exactly. I think we may conclude that the die used for the reverse was like that used to make Alsatian demi-écus, even though it was a bit too large for a regular French coin. That leaves the obverse die. There is no record of it. The combination of the lozenge and the king's bust is not known.

There is an interesting parallel. Gadoury notes that demi-écus 1701R and 1702R were reported, while there was no mint using that letter in those years (Villeneuve-les-Avignon was closed in 1662, Orléans started using it only in 1718). His conclusion: "it is not possible to attribute these pieces with certainty, the most plausible hypothesis seems to be a contemporary counterfeit."

Peter
An unidentified coin is a piece of metal. An identified coin is a piece of history.

Figleaf

Just to make sure, I checked if the obverse die could have been for a gold coin. Not so. They have the date under the king's head.

Peter
An unidentified coin is a piece of metal. An identified coin is a piece of history.

Figleaf

#5
Our francophone allies are now also aware of this very interesting coin:

https://www.numismatique.com/forum/topic/10588-1701-demi-%C3%A9cu-strasbourg-non-r%C3%A9pertori%C3%A9/

Peter

Link repaired
An unidentified coin is a piece of metal. An identified coin is a piece of history.

Andrey5

Many thanks, Peter, for your research and for asking the Francophone forum.
Should there be a need in a larger scan of this coin, I could send it.

Collecting African coins and tokens, selling more than 4500 world coins from www.avscoins.com

Figleaf

First reaction on the French side:

The mintmark is too well centered to be a double-struck B, The coin is a bit light, but not unusually so for an overstruck piece.

The bust is of the (demi)-écu aux palmes, as it is positioned lower and cuts into the legend at the top. François Fodere worked in La Rochelle also, using a lozenge, but it is at the stat of the legend and smaller, so this cannot be a demi-écu aux palmes of La Rochelle that escaped the restrike on the portrait side.

I found nothing on the losange used on your coin, maybe this is what François Fodere used in Strasbourg at the time.  Overstruck demi-écus aux palmes from Strasbourg are known for 1702 BB and 1701 several mints, but not BB.

It could be that minting was started at the end of 1701 with 1701 dies, exchanged rapidly for 1702. We should try to find a demi-écu with portrait aux palmes and reverse aux insignes to see where the director's mark is and what it looks like.

With this weight and quality, I do not believe that it is a contemporary counterfeit.


The author of the above remarks, hpdp, is an accomplished French numismatist.

Peter
An unidentified coin is a piece of metal. An identified coin is a piece of history.

Figleaf

Importantly, it is now established that the obverse is of the previous type, "aux palmes", not of the type "aux insignes" suggested by the reverse. This opens the possibility that one side was not overstruck at the same time as the other side. There are signs of overstriking from 1 to 4 o'clock on the portrait side, but they could be from an earlier overstrike.

To explore this avenue, please do the following. Hold the coin so that the pointy top of the king's whig is at 12 o'clock. Now turn the coin around on its vertical axis and note what is at 12 o'clock. Re-post the reverse with a little mark indicating this point. What I am after is die rotation of the obverse "aux palmes" with the remnants of the reverse "aux palmes".

Another thing that would be of interest is a detail picture of the area that includes the lozenge director's mark and the beginning of the legend on the portrait side.

I tend to agree that it is not a contemporary counterfeit, but I am at a loss to explain it otherwise. Great fun, this.

Peter
An unidentified coin is a piece of metal. An identified coin is a piece of history.

Andrey5

Thanks, Peter,

The 12 o'clock point of the obverse corresponds exactly to the dot below BB on the reverse.
The detail you requested is attached.

Andrey
Collecting African coins and tokens, selling more than 4500 world coins from www.avscoins.com

Figleaf

Thank you. Quite an unexpected result. Die alignment is perfect for the "insignes" die and rotated 90° for the "palmes" die. Maybe the obverse is "insignes" after all. I have loked at quite a few of these coins now. They seem to come in different shapes on both types. Confusing.

The detail reveals another surprise: evidence of a double strike in the D, confirmed by the last I in XIIII in the main picture. This is a really complicated coin. I provisionally reject the thesis that it is not due to a double strike but an overstrike, because that would mean that the host coin "aux palmes" would have had a 90° die rotation. Possible, but not so likely. There is no sign of re-cutting the director's mark. Maybe more important, the mintmaster sign seems to be solid, while Fodere's sign was hollow in the centre. A solid losange was used in Rouen, but hpdp says it is smaller and locate elsewhere. I am now starting to wonder about the sign of Jean-Joseph Calossale in Aix, a solid losange, but turned 90° (sharp angles upward and downward), used both in 1694 and 1701.

I'll wait for further reactions from our French friends before delving in this direction.

Peteri
An unidentified coin is a piece of metal. An identified coin is a piece of history.

Guillaume Hermann

#11
Quote from: Figleaf on July 10, 2012, 12:46:31 PM
an accomplished French numismatist.
No ! Accomplished and numismatist, ok. But Belgian ;)

Figleaf

An unidentified coin is a piece of metal. An identified coin is a piece of history.

Figleaf

Our French-speaking friends have had a lot of fun with this piece. No one doubts that the piece is genuine. The écu of this type is well known. They note that it is not listed in the latest version of the Droulers catalogue and showed an écu of the same type, date and mint here for comparison.

Meanwhile, a specialised collector commented that he has demi-ecus from the Strasbourg mint of around 13 grams and 33 to 34 mm, so not all the demis come in at the official weight of 15.344 grams and 37 mm. This collector believes this piece was struck as an essai (pattern) that escaped into circulation.

I would like to add that it wouldn't be the first time a pattern got into circulation, but I would have expected a neatly struck coin with traces of having been struck with new dies if the piece had been an essai. This piece remains a wonderful mystery for the time being.

Peter
An unidentified coin is a piece of metal. An identified coin is a piece of history.

Andrey5

I appreciate the efforts invested by you, Peter, and the Francophone colleagues into this research. Nice to know that nobody doubts that the coin is genuine.

Andrey   
Collecting African coins and tokens, selling more than 4500 world coins from www.avscoins.com