Copper 5 sols issued by the Monneron Brothers

France, AD 1792

A coin of the French Revolution

The French Revolution of 1789-1792 was a turning point in European history. It symbolized the change from a Europe dominated by old attitudes and power structures to one with greater political equality. The French monarchy had held vast powers through absolutist rule which ended when resistance within the population turned into revolution.

One of the factors which led to the Revolution was the financial deficit of the French state: a significant difference between the country's expenses and its revenues. This shortage of money contributed to the downfall of the monarchy, while the recent invention of paper money allowed the Revolutionary government to finance its activities despite the coin shortage.

Alongside the official paper notes of the Revolutionary government (known as assignats) private companies began to issue copper tokens. On this 5 sol piece, issued by a Parisian merchant bank, the legend states that it is exchangeable for paper assignats. On the other side we see French soldiers swearing allegiance to the new Republic and the legend VIVRE LIBRES OU MOURIR ('Live in Freedom, or Die').

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More information


J. Cribb, B. Cook and I. Carradice, The coin atlas (London and Sydney, Macdonald Illustrated, 1990)


Diameter: 40.000 mm
Weight: 29.150 g

Museum number

CM SS Banks 195-42


Gift of Sir Joseph and Lady Banks


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