France: 1 Franc 1898-1920 Sower


Quick Coinage Facts

Years Minted: 1898-1920
Composition: 83.5% Silver, 16.5% Copper
Diameter: 23 mm
Weight: 5 grams (0.1342 oz of silver)
Total Mintage: 435,140,000
Unique Features:


The obverse, designed by Louis Oscar Roty, features a woman sowing seeds and wearing a phrygian cap facing left while in the background is a sunrise over the horizon.

The woman is an idealized form of “The Republic” an allegorical image similar to that used on U.S. coinage where an idealized form of Lady Liberty is used in many designs and which gives this design the title “Republic Sowing”. On the outer periphery are the words "REPUBLIQUE FRANÇAISE" and just below the woman’s foot is the designer’s signature “O ROTY”.

The design, as beautiful as it is, may appear familiar to U.S. coin collectors. The style is very similar to that of Adolph Weinman’s Walking Liberty half dollar. It is believed that the “Republic Sowing” design of Roty influenced Weinman with his later designs on U.S coinage.

The reverse design features olive branches with the denomination “1 FRANC”. On the outer periphery is the phrase “LIBERTE-EGALITE-FRATERNITE” or in English //Liberty – Equality – Brotherhood”. On the bottom of the coin is the year of issue, to the left of the year is a cornucopia mint mark symbol and to the right is a torch symbol which is the engraver’s privy mark.

All coins were minted in Paris and carried no lettered mint mark with the exception of some 1914 issues which were minted in Castelsarrasin as well as Paris.
This mint, in the South-West of France, was re-activated in emergency, because at the beginning of World War I the French government feared to be forced to flee Paris, like in 1870.
1914 Castelsarrasin issues have a lettered mint mark “C” directly above the date of issue to distinguish them from Paris issues.

Obverse Reverse
Designer’s Signature
Mint & Privy Marks

General Market Notes

The key to the series is the 1900 issue while the semi-keys are the 1903 & 1914-C issues.

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