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La Semeuse: France Pays Tribute to Coin That Inspired Walking Liberty Half Dollar

The Sower

The Semeuse, or “Sower”, has been one of the preeminent motifs of French numismatic history for over a century.

Originally, La Semeuse was created by Oscar Roty for a medal of the Ministry of Agriculture in 1887. In 1896, when Finance Minister Paul Doumer ordered new coins, Roty was one of the chosen artists. He subsequently offered a new version of the Semeuse – the version that has appeared on many numismatic masterpieces (it has also been used on postage stamps since 1903).

And, since 2002, the Monnaie de Paris has reintroduced the Sower on a series of collectible coins.

A Brief History of La Semeuse on French Currency

Silver Issues, 1897 to 1920:

  • 50 Cents silver (from 1897 to 1920)
  • 1 Franc silver (from 1898 to 1920)
  • 2 silver francs (from 1898 to 1920)

Silver and Clad, 1959 to 2001:

  • 5 Francs silver (from 1959 to 1969)
  • 1 Franc Nickel (from 1960 to 2001)
  • 1/2 Franc Nickel (from 1965 to 2001)
  • 5 Francs Nickel (from 1970 to 2001)
  • 2 Francs Nickel (from 1979 to 2001) stylized drawing by the engraving workshop

Euro Issues (modernized drawing of Laurent Jorio), since 2002

  • 50 Centimes, 20 Centimes, 10 Centimes in common metal

Euros Value Collection, Modern and Kinetic Semeuse (drawing by Joaquin Jimenez), 2008 to 2010

  • In Silver: 5 €, 10 €, 15 €, 25 €, 50 €
  • Gold: 100 €, 250 €, 500 €

A New Theme

On the occasion of its 1,150th anniversary, the Monnaie de Paris introduced in 2014 a new series and will produce for the next seven years new coins on the theme “CURRENCIES THAT HAVE MARKED THE HISTORY OF FRANCE”.

The graphic choice was to draw inspiration from old coins without reproducing them identically. These currencies are tributes, not copies, to those who strongly influenced the political and economic evolution of our country.

After the denier of Charles the Bald and the Frank Horse, the Monnaie de Paris presents the Teston, the first French coin in heavy silver.

The Germinal Franc

The Germinal Franc entered into circulation in 1803, following the law of 7 germinal year XI, hence its name.

This coin was created by Napoleon Bonaparte, then First Consul of the Republic French. This coin was struck until 1926.

The Germinal Franc is the first French currency defined by a fixed metal weight. Based on then-current economic policy, the coin was intended to produce a healthy economic foundation and boost economic activity.

Indeed, France had just issued its first paper notes, a failure that left a negative impact on the economy.

With the Germinal Franc and its fixed weight of 5 grams, the economy found a second wind.

The coin contains 9/10 oz of fine silver and is equivalent to 0.32 grams of gold.

Moreover, this is the first time that the value of the coin is indicated on the reverse. The obverse featured Napoleon’s profile bust styled like a Roman emperor.

As a result, pieces of a quarter of a franc, a semi-franc, one franc, two and five francs were issued. Larger values such as 20 and 40 francs were also issued in gold.


The face represents the Semeuse by Roty in a more contemporary setting: surrounded by the 12 stars of the European flag, the female figure is framed by the French flag in heraldry (horizontal lines for blue, smooth for white, vertical lines for red).

The marks of the Monnaie de Paris and the Engraving Workshop are located under the feet of the Sower, the initials RF are located under the right arm.


The reverse recalls the period of the Consulate and the First Empire with Napoleon Bonaparte on his horse and the Great Army. Also represented are the face and back of a Germinal Franc highlighting the elements of this period: the Legion of Honor, the bee and the crown of laurel.

The depiction of Napoleon on his horse and the old Franc are highlighted by a special polishing.

Coinweek is the top independent online media source for rare coin and currency news, with analysis and information contributed by leading experts across the numismatic spectrum.

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