French Silver Coins

For many years, the French have gone above and beyond by minting attractive and valuable silver coins. The Paris Mint, before France was even a united country, has minted Francs. During the French Revolution they also minted silver Francs, and in recent years the country has minted commemorative euros and Francs. Every investor should appreciate French silver coins because they add additional variety and depth to any coin collection or portfolio.

Background & History: French Silver Coins

Silver coins were first minted by the Paris Mint, otherwise known as the Monnaie de Paris, going all the way back to their founding in 864. In fact, the original facility to produce these coins is still in existence today and it’s considered one of France’s oldest buildings. Within this building, you can discover a large collection of vintage coins that were minted throughout many centuries and times during history.

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During the French Revolution in 1795, the French people decided to create a standardized monetary system using decimals. And at the time, Francs had an official value of 100 centimes at this point in history. But things changed during the early 1800s when silver and gold French coins featured the bust of Napoleon. This lasted until 1814, when the British people and their allies defeated Napoleon once and for all. And throughout the entirety of the 19th century, silver coins in France included silver centimes and silver Francs. Collectors all over the world believe the 50 Franc silver coin from the 1860s is an appealing option, because it has the bust of Napoleon III wearing a wreath that crowns his head.

Production of silver and gold French coins was suspended at the end of World War I. At the time, coins were being made using metals of a cheaper quality including bronze, aluminum, nickel and bronze, nickel, and cupro-nickel. And under the regime of the Vichy government in occupied France during World War II, the French people produced coins using aluminum and zinc.

They didn’t revive creating silver coins for circulation and commemoration until many years after World War II came to a close and France experienced a time of economic recovery. All the way until 2002, the Paris Mint delivered silver coins for circulation with a number of different denominations of Francs. But this stopped in 2002 after France adopted the euro. At this point, the Paris mint began producing silver commemorative coins with the euro denomination.

Physical Characteristics: French Hercules Silver Coins

Between 1974 and 1979, the French minted a popular silver coin called the Fr.50 Silver Hercules. This was considered a gorgeous coin in one of the most attractive in Europe, and it immediately became a collector’s item. It was made with 90% silver and the silver within the coin weighed a total of .8682 Troy ounces. The face value of these coins shows that they are French legal tender worth 50 Francs.

Overall Design: French Silver Hercules Coins

On the obverse side, or better known as the front side of the coin, you’ll see big lettering for the inscription and in the center of the Hercules 50 Franc coin you’ll also see the denomination. And an attractive wreath is located around the script telling the denomination. The words on the coin say “RepubliqueFrancaise,” which stand for French Republic. And located at the bottom of the coin, you’ll notice the date when the Paris Mint struck the coin.

On the reverse side, or better known as the back of the coin, you’ll discover the words “Liberteegalitefraternite,” which is a phrase that means “Liberty equals fraternity” and it can be found on the uppermost rim of the coin. You’ll also see an attractive bust of the Greek God Hercules on the reverse side.

Specifications: French Silver Hercules Coins

The Silver 50 Francs Hercules specs include:

  • 8mm of thickness
  • 2mm in diameter
  • 30g of mass
  • 90% silver content

Pricing: French Silver Hercules Coins

The face value of these coins varies depending on whether they are francs or euros. The silver Hercules was worth 50 francs before and leading up to the year 2002. Now in France these coins are no longer allowed to be spent because they’ve officially switched over to the euro as of 2002, and euro coins are only allowed to be used as legal tender. No one wants to spend these coins for their face value anyway. The silver coins are actually more valuable for their content then the silver Hercules coins with the euro denomination.

Overall, the face value is the minimum market value of these French silver coins. They also contain intrinsic value based on supply and demand because of the silver content. This price is based on the spot price of silver that changes on a day-to-day basis during trading hours.

Can I Add French Silver Coins to My Precious Metals IRA Account?

The IRS has the final decision as to whether or not a particular coin or bar is allowable within a precious metals IRA. They have certain standards that need to be followed in order to achieve inclusion.

As far as the Silver 50 Franc Hercules coins are concerned, they only contain .900 fine silver. The IRS has a minimum mandated requirement of .999 pure silver, which means the silver coins do not possess enough silver content to qualify for a silver IRA.

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On another note, the French now have commemorative silver coins with the euro denomination that to contain the necessary amount of silver content within them. But these coins also do not qualify for a different reason. They are considered commemorative and collectible coins, so buyers must pay a high premium over the spot price of silver in order to purchase them. Since the IRS does not approve collectible coins with high premiums, these French silver coins also failed to qualify to receive inclusion in a precious metals IRA account.

All in all, silver coins from France are attractive, valuable, and gorgeous collectible pieces that can certainly act as an excellent investment. They just aren’t allowed in a precious metals IRA account, but they’re certainly a good investment otherwise.