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World Paper Money Auctions – Rare French Specimen Proofs


By Aris MaragoudakisCurrency Specialist, Stack’s Bowers ……
Stack’s Bowers Galleries will be offering two very significant French Specimen Proofs in our World Paper Money Session at our official auction at the ANA World’s Fair of Money.

One is known to collectors as the “Colbert note” and is a very rare specimen proof, and the first we have had the opportunity to offer.

The design was created by Euvre de Lucien Jonas, and engraved by Georges Beltrand with intaglio printing courtesy of Piel. These notes were created in World War II when France was still under Nazi Germany occupation. It does not have a watermark. This version 2 specimen proof was specifically designed for size fitting purposes. The size of the issued version of this note is 105 x 175mm.

The issued notes were printed as “reserve” notes for Banque de France, so they can declare them legal tender at any time. Featured are Jean-Baptiste Colbert at left and Mercury at right. The margins are oversized. Interestingly, there are no annotations from the printer, or anyone else, that would typically be found on a specimen proof, further marking this as a special piece. We expect this note to garner a lot of interest for its history, problem-free beauty, and scarcity. This note will be offered as Lot #30206 in our August World ANA Live Paper Money Session.

Lot #30222 offers another special note, this one recognized by seasoned collectors as Molière. It is designed by Jean Le Feuvre and engraved by Marliat et Beltrand, with intaglio printing designed by Piel. It is SPECIMEN PROOF (ver. 2), which was specially designed for size fitting purpose.

This note was created during Charles de Gaulle’s term and he made decisions regarding this note and later series. Usually France’s Specimen Proof notes are the same size as the issued version. In this case the issued version was finally issued as 500 NF on July 2, 1959, as its first date of issue, officially declared as legal tender on December 2, 1960, with a size of 97x182mm. There is no issued version for this 50,000 francs note. The only available versions are: SPECIMEN PROOF (ver. 1) note, SPECIMEN PROOF (ver. 2) note, SPECIMEN (without registration #), and a Remainder that was later used for the also unissued 500 NF on 50,000 F Contre-Valeur series.

On December 27th, 1958, President Charles de Gaulle announced that the old French franc would be devaluated by removing two zeroes from it. So it seemed unnecessary to issue 50,000 franc notes. The example offered in our August sale displays Molière at center, and the theatre in the background. No watermark is seen and there are extra large selvage sized borders as expected when regarding a Specimen Proof.

These notes will be offered in the live session of our official ANA World Paper Money auction in August to be held at the Anaheim Convention Center. We are currently accepting consignments for our 2016-2017 auction season. If you are interested in consigning or if you have a currency related question, please call 1-800-458-4646 or email Currency Specialist Aris Maragoudakis at [email protected] or Director of Currency Peter Treglia at [email protected].

Stack's Bowers
Stack's Bowers
Stack's Bowers Galleries conducts live, internet, and specialized auctions of rare U.S. and world coins and currency and ancient coins, as well as direct sales through retail and wholesale channels. The company's 90-year legacy includes the cataloging and sale of many of the most valuable United States coin and currency collections to ever cross an auction block — The D. Brent Pogue Collection, The John J. Ford, Jr. Collection, The Louis E. Eliasberg, Sr. Collection, The Harry W. Bass, Jr. Collection, The Joel R. Anderson Collection, The Norweb Collection, The Cardinal Collection, The Sydney F. Martin Collection, and The Battle Born Collection — to name just a few. World coin and currency collections include The Pinnacle Collection, The Louis E. Eliasberg, Sr. Collection of World Gold Coins, The Kroisos Collection, The Alicia and Sidney Belzberg Collection, The Salton Collection, The Wa She Wong Collection, and The Thos. H. Law Collection. The company is headquartered in Costa Mesa, California with galleries in New York, Boston, and Philadelphia. Offices are also located in New Hampshire, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Virginia, Hong Kong, Paris, and Vancouver.

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