OTD: King Louis orders Canada’s first coinage

On today’s date in 1670, King Louis XIV of France ordered 100,000 livres of coinage minted for New France, a French colony that consisted of much of eastern Canada and the U.S.

Nearly three-and-a-half centuries ago—about 250 years before Canadian Confederation—the first coins issued for use in what would later become Canada were minted. With New France’s humble beginnings came the need for a local currency, which was met halfway by the use of French coins; however, in 1670, King Louis XIV issued new coinage for use in the France’s North American colonies.

In his book Coins, Tokens and Medals of the Dominion of Canada: Supplement, author Alfred Sandham said Louis XIV minted new coinage for New France “to facilitate commerce in Canada. … This money was to be of the same weight, as that of France.”

Denominations of five sols and 15 sols were struck in silver and a two-deniers piece was struck in copper. The coins’ Latin inscription refers to the king, whose bust is depicted on the obverse: “They shall speak of thy glory of thy kingdom.” Beneath the inscription is the Paris Mint mark, “A.”

A 1670-A 15-sols piece brought $129,250 at a 2015 sale. (Photo by Stack’s Bowers Galleries)

MARCH 2015 BALTIMORE SALE

A 1670-A 15-sols piece was offered as Lot 2494 in the March 2015 Baltimore sale by Stack’s Bowers Galleries. Described as “extremely rare” and one of only six examples in private hands, this piece brought $129,250 USD. Only 14 are thought to exist with the remaining eight examples permanently held in major institutions in Canada, France, England and the U.S.

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