Montréal collector brings newly discovered 1670-dated 15 sols back to Canada

A newly discovered 1670-dated 15-sol coin struck at France’s Paris Mint was recently acquired by long-time “Ancien Régime” collector and Montréal dealer Michael Joffre.

The 15-sol piece represents the largest silver denomination in the first series issued by France for circulation in its colonies in North America. This denomination has long been considered one of the rarest, most important and most valuable coins in Canadian numismatics, said Joffre, who’s the president and head buyer of Carsley Whetstone.

According to Joffre, this coin brings the known population up to 15 examples. Eight pieces permanently reside in institutional collections while another seven examples are in private hands – and many outside of Canada.

Of those seven privately owned pieces, Joffre’s is the only example known to be in a private collection in Canada. The others are held in Europe and the U.S.

CANADA’S FIRST COINAGE

With New France’s humble beginnings came the need for a local currency, which was met halfway by the use of French coins; however, more was needed to support the burgeoning colony that consisted of much of eastern Canada and the U.S.

On March 24, 1670, King Louis XIV ordered 100,000 livres of coinage minted for New France. The first coins issued for use in what would later become Canada, they were minted “to facilitate commerce” according to Alfred Sandham’s 1868 book Coins, Tokens and Medals of the Dominion of Canada.

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 the Paris Mint mark, “A.”

LEAVING THE COUNTRY

At one time, many examples of the 1670-dated 15-sol coin were in Canadian collections, Joffre said.

Over the years, they were either acquired by museums or sold in auctions – and predominantly to U.S. buyers.

The 15-sol piece is also considered a U.S. colonial coin and is included in A Guide Book of United States Coins (also known as the “Red Book”), which accounts for its widespread interest south of the border.

Across the pond, European collectors also consider it a coin of the French colonies, and therein lies the allure overseas.

“This is certainly a bucket list coin for me, and one of the ones I have wanted since childhood,” said Joffre. “It is a collector’s dream come true, and it will be a joy to show other Montréal collectors as it is such an important piece of history.”

The coin is a lower-grade example but problem free, Joffre added.

It was certified by Professional Coin Grading Service in Europe and carries a grade of Good-4.

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