Not every gold investor wants to buy gold by the ounce. One ounce coins are expensive, not practical for small transactions and, for those who want some history behind their investments, too new. That’s why many investors continue to favor vintage gold coins for their investments. And one of the most popular vintage gold coins for investment purposes is the French 20 franc gold coin.
Minted for over a century, the most popular 20 franc French gold coins feature three different designs. The earliest of these are the Napoleon III 20 franc gold coins, which date from 1853-1870. These coins feature the image of Napoleon III on the obverse, with the 20 Francs inscription on the reverse.
Following the demise of the French Empire, the 20 franc coin changed design with the establishment of the Third Republic. This gave rise to perhaps the most-loved 20 franc coin design, that of the angel, often known as the lucky angel or guardian angel. The obverse features an image of an angel writing on a tablet, while the reverse features the 20 Francs inscription. The 20 franc Angel coins were minted from 1871-1898.
The final design of the 20 franc gold coin was the Rooster coin, feature the image of Marianne on the obverse and an image of the French rooster and the “20 Fcs” inscription on the reverse. These coins were minted from 1898-1914, with the 1898 coins being extremely rare. Coins from later years were restruck in Paris in 1921 and again in the 1950s, thus making them rather common on markets.
Older 20 franc coins exist too, such as the 1849-1851 Ceres coins, the Napoleon I coins of 1803 to 1815, etc., but those are far less commonly encountered. They also often command higher premiums due to lower mintages.
Because of France’s membership in the Latin Monetary Union, the French 20 franc coins have the same gold content as the Swiss 20 franc gold coins, as well as similar coins from Italy, Belgium, etc. Expect to pay premiums of 2-5% for French 20 franc coins in circulated condition, with premiums of 8-10% for coins closer to uncirculated condition.
Like most older circulating gold coinage, the French 20 franc gold coins are not eligible for investment through a gold IRA. But if you’re looking for a reasonably priced source of gold that also has some historical interest, you can’t go wrong with the French 20 franc gold coins.
- Purity: 90% gold
- Weight: 6.45 g
- Gold Content: 0.1867 troy oz.
- Diameter: 21 mm
- Thickness: 1.3 mm