- "French Equatorial African 1 franc coin" redirects here. For the coins made circa 1883 and 1888, see French Equatorial African 1 franc coin (token).
French Cameroon (1958-1960)
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The 1 franc coin is a current circulation piece of the Economic and Monetary Community of Central Africa (CEMAC), an international organization consisting of Cameroon, the Central African Republic, Chad, the Republic of the Congo, Equatorial Guinea, and Gabon. Prior to the establishment of the CEMAC, it was issued by French Equatorial Africa (AEF), a federation consisting of Chad, French Congo, Gabon, and Ubangi-Shari. It was issued in five main types, the first of which made in 1942 and 1943 during the existence of the AEF. A redesigned CFA piece was then struck a few years later in 1948 under the authority of colonial French officials. By 1958 the AEF was disestablished, and its previous member states were granted autonomy and eventually independence by the French government. Nearly eleven years later, in 1969 and again in 1971, the Central Bank of Equatorial African States and Cameroon (BCEAEC) issued another 1 franc coin for circulation. It was followed in 1974 as the newly established Bank of Central African States (BEAC) issued a similar piece, which continued to be struck intermittently until 2003. The most recent coin was then produced in 2006 under the BEAC. Examples of the latter four types were produced at the Monnaie de Paris in France. The 1942 and 1943 pieces were made at the Pretoria Mint in South Africa.
Pieces made from 1974 to 2006 currently hold a legal tender face value equivalent to 1.00 Central African CFA francs in the member states of the CEMAC. The coins made for the AEF and Central Bank of Equatorial African States and Cameroon have been demonetized and no longer see any circulation.
First coins of French Equatorial Africa (1942–1943)Edit
French Equatorial Africa was established in 1910 from the French colonial possessions in Central Africa. The French franc circulated in the federation as the main currency, and by 1917 it was augmented by a local version of the franc used in Chad, French Congo, Gabon, and Ubangi-Shari. French Cameroon, established after World War I (1914–1918) from the partitioning of German Kamerun, issued its own franc until 1958. For several years only paper money was made for the French Equatorial African franc, but by 1942, during World War II (1939–1945), a series of coins denominated at 50 centimes and 1 franc was introduced by the Free French Forces. They were struck at the Pretoria Mint of the then British Union of South Africa. The 1 franc coin, designed and engraved by South African sculptor Coert Laurens Steynberg (1905–1982), was then minted again with similar dies in 1943. The earlier dated of the pieces is composed of a brass alloy and weighs 5.48 grams, whereas its later counterpart is made of bronze and weighs 5.6 grams. Both measure approximately 25.6 millimeters in diameter and 1.6 millimeters in thickness. They have coin alignment and a plain edge, and are round in shape.
An illustration of the Gallic rooster, an unofficial national symbol of France, appears in the center of the coin's obverse. The heraldic animal is shown facing to the left and standing on a patch of ground covered in grass. Inscribed below in small print are the initials "C.L.S", attributing Coert Laurens Steynberg as the artist. Above the rear of the rooster, to the right of its head, is an escutcheon containing the letters "RF", a common abbreviation for République française, meaning "French Republic". Printed clockwise along the outer boundary of the obverse is the French name of French Equatorial Africa, "AFRIQUE EQUATORIALE FRANÇAISE", lacking the acute over the first "E" in the second word. It is separated between "EQUATORIALE" and "FRANÇAISE" by the aforementioned escutcheon. Following this text is the word "LIBRE", meaning "free", indicating the piece was issued by the Ally aligned Free French Forces, not the Axis established Vichy or Nazi administered French governments. Displayed in the middle of the reverse is the Cross of Lorraine, a symbol of the Free French Forces. The "S.A." mint mark of the Pretoria Mint of South Africa is engraved above the cross' central bar, whereas the "C.L.S" initials of Coert Laurens Steynberg are displayed below the same bar. Printed below the bottommost of the two horizontal bars is the face value "1 FC
~", abbreviated for 1 Franc. The numeral and following word are separated by the vertical bar of the cross. Engraved above the cross is a banner bearing the French national motto without accents, written clockwise as "LIBERTE EGALITE FRATERNITE" on two lines. The first two words are separated by a small point, and the final one is flanked on both sides by two other points. "HONNEUR PATRIE" (English: "Honor (and) Fatherland"), the motto of the French Army, is inscribed clockwise along the periphery of the coin, the first word displayed in an upward direction and the second in a downward direction. Written in the opposite direction at the bottom of the piece, flanked by two floral designs, is the Gregorian date of minting in Western Arabic numerals. The rims of the obverse and reverse are raised and decorated with a beaded border.
In total, approximately 3,000,000 French Equatorial African 1 franc coins were minted in 1942, followed by an additional 6,000,000 examples in 1943. As such, the earlier dated pieces are rarer and worth a small amount more than the 1943 coins in most grades. Only business strikes of both years are known to exist.
Second coin of French Equatorial Africa (1948)Edit
- See also: French Cameroonian 1 franc coin
After the Liberation of France in 1944, the Vichy and Nazi governments in France were disestablished and a provisional government operated until 1946, with the introduction of the French Fourth Republic. The French franc greatly weakened following the conclusion of World War II, and in response the country created the CFA franc in 1945, primarily for its colonial possessions in Africa. Two versions of the currency were established, the West African and Central African CFA francs, respectively used in the territories of French West and Equatorial Africa. In 1948 the first coins of the Central African currency, a 1 and 2 franc piece, were introduced. They carry the designs of Parisian artist and Graveur général des monnaies of the time, Lucien Georges Bazor (1889–1974). In addition to pieces for circulation, unissued essais and piedfort essais of the denominations were also produced. Of these pieces, the circulation 1 franc coin and piedfort essai are composed of aluminum, whereas the normal-sized essai is made of cupronickel. The issued specimens weigh about 1.32 grams, and the cupronickel essais weigh around 5.19 grams. The two types share a thickness of 1.55 millimeters. All specimens measure 23 millimeters in diameter, have coin alignment and a plain edge, and are round in shape.
Displayed in the center of the coin's obverse is a left-facing bust of Marianne, a winged Phrygian cap covering much of her long hair. Marianne, an national symbol and personification of France, represents liberty and reason in French contexts. Four ships appear in the background of the illustration, three to the left of the allegorical figure and one to the right. Engraved in small print below the three ships is the "L. BAZOR" signature of Lucien Georges Bazor, and inscribed under the single ship to the right of Marianne are the initials "GB", standing for "Gabriel Bernard". The Gregorian date "1948" appears counterclockwise along the bottom periphery of the coin, in an exergue below Marianne. It is flanked to the left by the cornucopia privy mark of the Monnaie de Paris and to the right by the wing mark of Lucien Georges Bazor. On essais, the word "ESSAI" is engraved horizontally in small print between the bust of Marianne and the year. The title of the French Republic is written clockwise along the bottom left to upper peripheries of the piece, reading "REPUBLIQUE FRANÇAISE" without the acute accent above the first "E". Following this text, which is written in the same direction from the upper to lower right boundaries of the coin, is "UNION FRANÇAISE", translating as "French Union". The French Union, established in 1946, was a political entity that consisted of France's overseas possessions, including Equatorial Africa. Featured in the middle of the coin's reverse is the facing horned head of a rhim gazelle (Gazella leptoceros), also known as a loder's gazelle. Such an animal was once native to much of Saharan Africa, but is now only found in small populations in the region, including northern Chad. The illustration on the coin is surrounded by various crops, including certain grains and grapes, which extend along the upper periphery of the piece on a vine. Displayed in the middle of the piece is the value "1 F.", abbreviated for 1 franc, the numeral and following letter separated by the long horns of the gazelle. The area of the coin's periphery unoccupied by the grapevine contains the text "AFRIQUE EQUATORIALE FRANÇAISE" (English: "French Equatorial Africa"), which travels in a counterclockwise direction. The first "E" in the word "EQUATORIALE" lacks the acute accent. The rims of both the obverse and reverse of the coin are raised and undecorated.
A total of approximately 15,000,000 business strikes were made for circulation, along with 2,000 cupronickel and 104 aluminum piedfort essais.
Giant eland circulation coins (1969–2003)Edit
In 1958, the member states of French Equatorial Africa voted for autonomy in the French Community, the successor of the French Union. As a result, the federation was dissolved and an interim Union of Central African Republics briefly operated from 1959 to 1960, the year in which the French colonies in Central Africa – French Cameroon, Chad, French Congo, Gabon, and Ubangi-Shari – respectively became the independent Republics of Cameroon, Chad, and the Congo, the Gabonese Republic, and the Central African Republic. Since gaining national sovereignty, these countries have continued to issue the Central African CFA franc, and were later joined in 1984 by Equatorial Guinea, a former Spanish colony. The Central Bank of Equatorial African States and Cameroon (BCEAEC) was instituted in 1961 to regulate the currency, and was later succeeded by the Bank of Central African States (BEAC) in 1971. In 1999 the current Economic and Monetary Community of Central Africa (CEMAC), the monetary union using the Central African CFA franc, was formally established from the Customs and Economic Union of Central Africa (UDEAC).
In 1969 and 1971 the BCEAEC commissioned the Monnaie de Paris to produce of new circulation 1 franc coin for use in Central Africa, utilizing coin designs made by Lucien Georges Bazor in 1958. A virtually identical piece, albeit with modified inscriptions and slight design alterations from Robert Cochet (1903–1988), was then made under the authority of the BEAC at the same facility from 1974 to 2003. Additionally, unissued essais were produced in 1969, 1974, and 1976. The pieces are composed primarily of aluminum, weigh 1.3 grams, and measure 23 millimeters in diameter and 1.3 millimeters in thickness. They have coin alignment and plain edges, and are round in shape.
Displayed in the center of the obverse, designed by Bazor and Cochet, are three left-facing eastern giant elands (Taurotragus derbianus gigas), savanna antelopes native to portions of Central Africa, including much of northeastern Central African Republic and small areas of northern Cameroon and southeastern and southwestern Chad. On the piece the animals are depicted standing in a field of long grass. On both coins the "G.B.L.BAZOR" signature of Lucien Bazor appears to the right of the illustration. However, on pieces from 1969 and 1971 it is taller, thinner, and arched in a clockwise direction, and on later examples shorter, thicker, and curved in a counterclockwise direction. The BEAC coins additionally bear the "RC" monogram of Robert Cochet near the rightmost eland, in the grass below. Printed on two lines along the top of the earlier BCEAEC piece is the text "BANQUE CENTRALE ETATS DE L'AFRIQUE EQUATORIALE" (English: "Central Bank of Equatorial African States"), the latter five words traveling clockwise from the left to right rims of the obverse, with the words "BANQUE CENTRALE" arched in the same direction below. "CAMEROUN", the French name for Cameroon, appears counterclockwise along the bottom periphery of the earlier coin, the Gregorian date of minting printed above in Western Arabic numerals. On the BEAC pieces, "BANQUE DES ETATS DE L'AFRIQUE CENTRALE" (English: "Bank of Central African States") is written clockwise along the upper periphery and sides of the obverse, extending from the lower left to right rims. The remainder of the coin's boundary is occupied by the counterclockwise Gregorian date of minting, which is flanked by two small points separating it from the bank title. The reverses of both the BCEAEC and BEAC coins are nearly identical. Displayed in the center is the face value "1 FRANC", the numeral shown in a larger, more prominent font than the following word. The base of the "1" is flanked to the left by the cornucopia mark of the Monnaie de Paris, and to the right by the privy mark of the Graveur général des monnaies at the time of the coin's minting. The owl of Raymond Joly (1911–2006) appears on examples made from 1969 to 1974, the dolphin of Émile Rousseau (1927–2010) from 1976 to 1992, the bee of Pierre Rodier (1939–) from 1998, and the heart with "LS" initials of Serge Levet from 2003. On pieces of the BCEAEC, the cornucopia mark is slanted to the upper right, and on later examples it is angled to the lower right. Essai examples bear the small word "ESSAI" above the number. A wreath consisting of parts of local fruits and grains, including cocoa (Theobroma cacao) and coffee (Coffea), occupies the area along the coin's periphery, encircling all of the aforementioned reverse elements. The rims of the obverse and reverse on both coins are raised and undecorated.
A total of 5,500,000 business strikes were issued by the Central Bank of Equatorial African States and Cameroon: 2,500,000 in 1969 and 3,000,000 in 1971. In addition, around 1,250 essais were produced in the former of the two years. The Bank of Central African States authorized the production of 23,250,000 business strikes from 1974 to 2003, along with around 1,500 essais in 1974 and and an unknown number of essais in 1976.
|1969||2,500,000||Owl - Joly|
|1974||3,000,000||Owl - Joly|
|1976||4,000,000||Dolphin - Rousseau|
|1998||600,000||Bee - Rodier|
|2003||12,000,000||Heart - Levet|
Fruits circulation coin (2006)Edit
In 2006 the Monnaie de Paris undertook the task of producing of a redesigned series of coins for the Economic and Monetary Union of Central Africa, thereby discontinuing the previous pieces. Such a series consisted of denominations of 1, 2, 5, 10, 25, 50, 100, and 500 francs. They all carry uniform designs made by the Atelier de Gravure des Monnaies et Médailles (AGMM), the engraving workshop of the Monnaie de Paris. The 2006 1 franc piece is composed of stainless steel, weighs approximately 1.65 grams, and measures 15 millimeters in diameter and around 1 millimeter in thickness. It has coin alignment and a plain edge, and is round in shape.
A basket of tropical fruits native to Central Africa, including cocoa, is displayed in the center of the coin's obverse. Printed on two lines above is the face value "1 FRANC", the numeral about twice as large as the following word. The cornucopia mark of the Monnaie de Paris is engraved to the left of the number, while the hunting horn privy mark of Hubert Larivière, the Graveur général des monnaies in 2006, is featured to the right. Inscribed horizontally in Western Arabic numerals below the fruit basket is the Gregorian date of minting, "2006". All of the aforementioned elements are enclosed within a circular border. Written clockwise above this, near the rim, is "CEMAC", an abbreviation for Communauté économique et monétaire de l'Afrique centrale (English: "Economic and Monetary Community of Central Africa"). The remainder of the obverse's periphery is occupied by geometric patterns similar to those appearing on earlier Central African 100 franc coins. Engraved on two lines in the middle of the piece's reverse, inside of a circular boundary, is the face value "1 FCFA", shortened for 1 franc CFA. The numeral is significantly larger than the abbreviation that follows it, which is slanted slightly upward and to the right. Printed clockwise outside of the border, along the boundary of the piece, is the title of the Bank of Central African States in French, "BANQUE DES ÉTATS DE L'AFRIQUE CENTRALE". The beginning and end of such a legend are separated from each other by a small point at the bottom of the coin. Both rims of the 2006 franc coin are raised and undecorated.
The total mintage of the 2006 franc is currently unknown. Only business strikes are reported to have been produced.
- Numismatic Guaranty Corporation website
- Numista (English) (French)
- Sieber, Arlyn G. Warman's World Coins Field Guide: Values & Identification (2010). p. 217. Krause Publications. ISBN 1440215065
- Central African CFA franc on the English Wikipedia
- French Camerounian franc on the English Wikipedia
- Banque des États de l'Afrique centrale on the French (Français) Wikipedia