The 1848A Essai 5 Franc is the only known gold 5 Franc of the Ceres design.
Numismatic Guaranty Corporation® (NGC®) has certified a likely unique French pattern that was submitted for grading at the recent ANA World’s Fair of Money in Denver.
Graded NGC PF 65, this remarkable Gem 1848A Essai 5 Franc is the only known gold striking of a 5 Franc Pattern of the Monetary Concours coin design competition of 1848. It was once owned by the legendary King Farouk of Egypt and is pedigreed accordingly on the NGC certification label.
This 1848A Essai gold 5 Franc was struck shortly after the February Revolution of 1848, which deposed King Louis Philippe and ended the Orleans monarchy. This was followed by the Second French Republic, which lasted from 1848 to 1851.
The Second French Republic held a Concours to select designs for a new coinage. A total of 35 different design types were produced for the 5 Franc coin, all struck in silver, bronze and white metal, except for one that was struck in gold. Experts estimate that only one or two such gold pieces were struck, with the present specimen the only known survivor.
In addition, 23 different types of essais were struck for the gold 20 Franc coin. All of the 20 Franc coins are of the traditional size. That makes this coin the largest gold coin of the Concours.
The coin’s design is one of the most beautiful in all of French numismatics. The obverse features a radiant head of Ceres, the Roman goddess of agriculture, with a crown of infants holding hands. It was designed by the famous French engraver Jean-Jacques Barre.
On the reverse, a wreath of laurel and oak surrounds the date (which features an inverted 4) as well as the denomination of 5.F. The mintmark A indicates that it was struck at the Paris Mint. A bushel of wheat is at the base of the wreath, and the national motto of France, LIBERTÉ, ÉGALITÉ, FRATERNITÉ, surrounds the design elements. The edge is lettered and reads: CONCOURS DE 1848 ACCESSIT 1er.
A modified design was ultimately selected for the circulation issues that were released the following year. The piece recently graded by NGC is therefore considered by numismatists to be an "essai," the French word for a pattern — a coin that is struck to test a new design and/or composition. NGC has assigned the attribution MAZ-1266C according to the reference by Jean Mazard: Histoire monétaire et numismatique contemporaine, 1790-1967.
"This design is one of the most beautiful examples of French numismatic art of this time period," said Ken Krah, NGC vice president and grading finalizer. "That, in addition to its numismatic significance, makes it one of the most desired coins to possess. It’s a privilege to have graded a coin of this importance."
This specimen was sold ungraded at auction by Chaponnière et Firmenich SA of Geneva Switzerland, in its July 5, 2017 auction, for the impressive sum of $285,000 (USD). This is the highest amount ever paid for any French coin, of any era, at public auction.
It was acquired at the sale, and then submitted to NGC for grading, by Numismatic Emporium, Inc., of Woodland Hills, California.
Brad Rodgers of Numismatic Emporium, Inc., stated: "From the moment we bought this coin for our client, we knew that NGC grading was the only way to go. They have a track record and depth of knowledge on world coins that is unmatched."