Louis D’Or Reimagined

Published February 9, 2024 | 3 min read

By Louis Golino

Have you ever dreamed of owning one of the famous French gold coins of the 17th century, known as Louis d’Or, or “Louis of Gold?” 

On January 23, the Paris Mint launched silver and gold tributes to these famous gold pieces, first issued in 1640 by French King Louis XIII. The originals come with a hefty numismatic premium, especially for higher-grade pieces.

The new coins are the latest releases in the mint’s trilogy Golds of France. The series began last year with coins for Napoleon Bonaparte and will end in 2025 with franc à cheval coins. They are part of the mint’s ongoing program honoring French numismatic heritage. That program launched in 2008 and features silver and gold coins sold at or near their face value. 

1640 Louis d’Or. (Photos: Heritage Auctions)

The Louis D’Or

Numismatists have eagerly sought the Louis d’Or because of the coin’s important role in French history. They also admire its technical and aesthetic qualities. Issued from 1640 to 1792, these pre-French Revolution coins symbolized the power and stability of the French Bourbon monarchy. Authorized by the edict of Saint-Germain of March 31, 1640, the Louis d’Or replaced the ecu as France’s currency and monetary system until the French Revolution. It also helped France assert its power by creating a currency that could compete with those of Spain and England for international trade.

King Louis XIV, XV, and XVI all continued the coin with their respective effigies on the obverse. The reverse features the French royal coat of arms, which changed with each ruler.

These coins’ success was largely due to their 22kt gold content (0.917 fineness). Additionally, designer Jean Varin struck the coins on round planchets of uniform size, a first for French coinage.

The value of gold coins was not tied to the currency of the time (the livre). As such, the Louis d’Or became a safe-haven investment until the French Revolution. Under Louis XIII, each Louis weighed 6.75g and had a diameter of 25mm. Their weights changed slightly later. Except for the coins issued in 1640, which came in more sizes, the coins were only made in half, one, and two Louis denominations.

New Coins

The new designs are a reinterpretation of the classic Louis d’Or. The silver and gold coins feature King Louis XIII’s portrait on the obverse. They also include ornate symbols added in the background. These include the royal lily (or fleur-de-lis) plus the famous inscription of the French Revolution (“Liberte, Egalite, Fraternite”), which replaces the original legend that noted the monarch’s name. The year of issue appears at the bottom of the bust.

Heraldic symbols of the king’s reign appear on the original reverse. The new coins feature three motifs: the Napoleonic eagle, the royal lily, and a third ornate design. The denomination is inscribed vertically across the middle. The letter R on the left and F on the right denote the French Republic.

The silver coins come in 20- and 100-euro denominations, while the gold coins bear a 250-euro denomination. The mint will offer additional gold coins later in 1,000; 2,500; 5,000; and 10,000 euros. A 20-euro silver proof coin is also available for purchase.

For more information and to order, visit the Paris Mint’s website (monnaiedeparis.fr). 

The 2024 coins that pay homage to the classic Louis d’Or coins come in gold and silver (below). (Photos: Monnaie de Paris)