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Author Topic: French WW2 Coinage  (Read 1009 times)

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Offline chrisild

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French WW2 Coinage
« on: October 11, 2013, 12:09:25 PM »
Most of us will know that, in France during the second world war, there were two or even three separate territories so to say: The parts that were occupied by Nazi Germany, the État Français aka Vichy regime (later under German occupation as well) ... and the free or liberated parts in France métropolitaine and central Africa. The Vichy regime replaced, on its coins and elsewhere, the "Liberté - Égalité - Fraternité" motto by "Travail - Famille - Patrie".

My question is: What coins (and especially with what motto) circulated in the German occupied parts? The question came up earlier this week, at a dinner table, and, quelle honte, I did not know the answer either. :)  (I am not talking about means of payment used "internally" by and among the occupational forces.) Hard to believe that coins suggesting liberty would have circulated in, say, nazi occupied Paris - but they did not use the Vichy pieces there, right?

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Offline Ukrainii Pyat

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Re: French WW2 Coinage
« Reply #1 on: October 11, 2013, 12:41:41 PM »
My guess is that Vichy coins circulated in all of France - the intent was that the occupation would not last forever and that old man Petain would fascist the whole country.
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Offline malj1

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Re: French WW2 Coinage
« Reply #2 on: October 11, 2013, 01:37:30 PM »
As I read it in World War II Remembered the Vichy coins replaced the regular coinage c1941-44

Quote:
THE FRENCH STATE (Vichy Government)
After the collapse of the French armies in 1940 Marshal Petain sought an armistice with Germany, which was signed on 22 June 1940. By the terms of the armistice the French government was left in nominal control of the whole of France and its colonies except Alsace and Lorraine, which were annexed to Germany. The country actually fell into two zones; Paris and the major industrial areas of the north were in German hands. The unoccupied zone was mainly agricultural and included the Mediterranean coast, which gave access to the North African colonies. The whole arrangement was designed to be a stopgap until Great Britain could be conquered.
The seat of the unoccupied French territory was established in the resort city of Vichy. The Vichy government then walked a thin line, attempting to maintain a neutrality and holding Germany to the terms of the armistice, but having few assets with which to accomplish this.
The Vichy government increasingly became a tool of German policy and collaborators became influential in government. After the Allied invasion of North Africa in November 1942, Vichy lost all bargaining power. The Vichy army was disbanded by the Germans and the whole of France was occupied.
In September 1944, after the Allied liberation, the French government was reorganized. It declared Petain's Etat Francais (French state) abolished and announced that legally the republic had never ceased to exist.
During the time that the Vichy government was in existence many fiscal policies were introduced that affected France and the colonies. A new coinage was introduced but Bank of France notes continued to circulate in France. Most colonies introduced new paper money issues, many of which are listed in the Allied section.

and...

When the Allies recaptured Paris and the French mints, they made no changes in the metal or weights of the coins but the provisional government immediately moved to eliminate the Vichy designs. It ordered the that prewar types be resumed. A decree of 2 September 1944 restored the Lindauer and Morlon types. A decree of 2 February 1945 authorized the striking of 5 franc coins in aluminum (3.5 grams) to replace the 5 franc notes. The type and size of the prewar coins were used.



edited couple OCR errors
« Last Edit: October 11, 2013, 10:59:46 PM by malj1 »
Malcolm
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Re: French WW2 Coinage
« Reply #3 on: October 11, 2013, 06:30:03 PM »
As the above text suggests, the paper money tells a clear story: the Banque de France (in Paris, in the occupied zone) remained solely responsible for issuing banknotes, denominated in francs. Alsace and Lorraine, annexed by nazi-Germany, would have used marks. French colonies continued to use francs, whether Vichy french or free french dominated. The allies re-introduced pre-war coins.

The German army brought in emergency notes, denominated in marks, in the early days of the war. They saw more circulation in France than in other occupied countries, mainly because France had a larger problem of displaced persons. However, they were retired as quickly as possible and clearly thought of as an emergency measure, not an attempt to get France to use marks. There was no need for that anyway. The franc had been linked to the German mark at a fixed rate.

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

Offline chrisild

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Re: French WW2 Coinage
« Reply #4 on: October 11, 2013, 10:19:20 PM »
Another numismatic mystery - well, it was one for me - solved! Thanks, gentlemen. Will report that next month when I see those people again. :)

Christian

Offline andyg

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Re: French WW2 Coinage
« Reply #5 on: January 29, 2017, 02:10:04 PM »
Anyone know when the État Français coins were demonetised?
Were they good with the later French types or were they removed from circulation before the revaluation in 1960?
always willing to trade modern UK coins for modern coins from elsewhere....

Offline FosseWay

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Re: French WW2 Coinage
« Reply #6 on: January 29, 2017, 03:00:57 PM »
Good question, and not one I've been able to get to the bottom of.

French Wikipedia has this to say:

Quote
La plupart de ces billets furent remplacés ŕ la suite de l'ordonnance du 4 juin 1945 tandis que les coupures inférieures ŕ 50 francs disparurent.

(Most of these (namely the Vichy issue) banknotes were replaced following the ordinance of 4 June 1945, while denominations lower than 50 francs disappeared.)

This tells us that the Vichy banknotes continued to circulate for up to a year in liberated areas. It would be logical to suppose that the smaller denomination banknotes and the coins also did so, but I can't find incontrovertible evidence.

On the main Wikipedia page about the French franc, there is more information about what circulated during the occupation/Vichy period. At the start of the period, both Reichskreditkassen coins ("washers") and standard homeland-type Pfennig coins circulated in the occupied zone. Belgian coins apparently circulated in Nord-Pas de Calais, and Alsace-Lorraine officially adopted the Reichsmark. The Reichskreditkassen money was withdrawn in 1941 and standard German currency in 1943, after which Vichy money presumably circulated across France.

In terms of long-term circulation of Vichy coins, it's only really the 1 and 2 francs that are affected. The 10, 20 and 50 centimes were only minted by the postwar state until at the latest 1947, and there were no Vichy coins higher than 2 Fr to continue in use (excluding the Pétain 5 Fr that was never issued). It wouldn't surprise me if the 1 and 2 Fr coins remained technically valid until 1960 but were actually not used because people disposed of them ASAP.

All of the above raises another question though: What did they use for denominations between 5 and 50 francs between 1945 and 1950? As mentioned, Vichy notes of under 50 francs were withdrawn in 1945, but the coins of the relevant denominations were not issued until 1950.

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Re: French WW2 Coinage
« Reply #7 on: January 29, 2017, 05:12:56 PM »
The withdrawal dates of old coins after 1945 were:
  • August 5, 1949: Chamber of Commerce series and Morlon in aluminium-bronze
  • May 27, 1950: 50 centimes Morlon and francisque in aluminium, 5 francs Lavriller in aluminium-bronze
  • July 7, 1953: 5 francs Turin
  • August 3, 1966: 5 francs Lavriller in aluminium
  • February 14, 2002: 1 and 2 francs Morlon and francisque
Chamber of Commerce is the design with Hermes seated
Morlon is Marianne facing left, e.g KM 894.
Francisque is the double ax Vichy issue.
Lavriller is Marianne facing left, e.g KM 888
Turin is Marianne facing right, e.g KM 909

All the coins mentioned in the list above were therefore allowed to circulate between 1945 and September 1949.

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

Offline FosseWay

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Re: French WW2 Coinage
« Reply #8 on: January 29, 2017, 05:26:02 PM »
    • February 14, 2002: 1 and 2 francs Morlon and francisque


     :o

    I visited France on numerous occasions between 1980 and 2002, and always had an eye out for coins I didn't already have, and never came across any coin worth less than 5 (nouveaux) centimes - not even the little steel 1 centime, and certainly not the old aluminium franc coins masquerading as 1 and 2 centimes. I guess it was one of those situations like with the double-florin in the UK (which is still legal tender for 20p) where the legislation hadn't caught up with reality and after a while there wasn't much point changing it.

    Offline andyg

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    Re: French WW2 Coinage
    « Reply #9 on: January 29, 2017, 05:36:31 PM »
    Thanks both,

    This makes the "SOFIM" countermarks a little awkward,
    we have Francisque 50 Centimes - withdrawn 1950 (only circulated in France) and the same stamp on a Reunion 20 Francs - which was not issued until 1961.  Also, these coins were not new when the stamp was applied. 

    Thoughts?

    (pictures borrowed from Malj1)
    always willing to trade modern UK coins for modern coins from elsewhere....

    Online Figleaf

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    Re: French WW2 Coinage
    « Reply #10 on: January 29, 2017, 05:45:09 PM »
    I started visiting France from time to time in the early sixties. At the time, the new franc coins were circulating, but there were plentiful supplies of old franc coins, being used as 1 and 2 centimes. The 50 centimes were gone, but I'd spot one in a shop sometimes and always got it for free. Some of the Morlons were close to unc. I found a few aluminium Lavriller 5 franc pieces in those early years. For the steel 1 and 5 centimes coins I'd go to the main post office of Paris, where they were used as change when people bought stamps in silly denominations. The supply of old coins dried up in the '70s and what remained was of poor grade. The 2002 demonetisation was after the introduction of the euro, probably part of a legal cleaning up operation.

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

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    Re: French WW2 Coinage
    « Reply #11 on: January 29, 2017, 05:56:36 PM »
    This makes the "SOFIM" countermarks a little awkward,

    Personally, I am very wary of all undocumented countermarks, "discovered" decades after they were supposed to have been used.

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