An Intriguing History
Minted during the reign of Napoleon’s nephew, Napoleon III, who ruled as a benevolent dictator from 1853-1870. And while things did not go well for Napoleon, his nephew was fairly successful with regard to stability and longevity. After France was defeated during the Franco-Prussian War, Napoleon III was exiled, and the minting of these great coins was at an end.
There were three designs of the Napoleon Franc, referred to as Versions I, II, and III. Version I features an obverse with the bust portrait of Napoleon III, designed by Jean Jacques Barre. His name is written as ‘LOUIS-NAPOLEON BONAPARTE.” The reverse features the date, 20 francs and is surrounded by a wreath. It bears the inscription “REPUBLIQUE FRANCAIS.”
Version II saw a significant design change on the obverse, with his name inscribed as “NAPOLEON III” and the title “EMPEREUR.” The reverse of this type replaced “REPUBLIQUE FRANCAIS” with “EMPIRE FRANCAIS.”
Version III again updated the obverse design, with Napoleon III now wearing a wreath and the reverse featuring his Coat of Arms.
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