On today’s date in 1670, France’s King Louis XIV ordered 100,000 livres of coinage for New France, a French colony that consisted of much of eastern Canada and the United States.
Nearly three and a half centuries ago – about 250 years before Canadian Confederation – the first coins used in what would later become Canada were minted and issued. 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 his North American colonies.
The king minted the new coinage “to facilitate commerce in Canada,” according to Alfred Sandham in his 1869 book Coins, Tokens and Medals of the Dominion of Canada: Supplement.
“This money was to be of the same weight as that of France.”
Denominations of five sols and 15 sols were struck in silver while 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 an “A,” which is the Paris Mint mark.
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Described as “extremely rare” and one of only six examples in private hands, this piece brought $129,250 US. It was graded Very Fine-35 by Professional Coin Grading Service.
Only 14 examples are thought to exist, and eight pieces are permanently held in major institutions in Canada, France, England and the United States.