1879 French Third Republic 5 centimes

David J. writes: My daughter found a worn, beat up French coin from 1879. On the date side is a portrait facing to the holders left with REPUBLIQUE FRANCAISE around the edge and the date at the bottom. On the other side is a wreath with 10 CENTI?? in the middle and LIBERTE EGALITE FRATERNITE around the edge. Can you tell me anything about this coin’s history? Thank you in advance.

You have an 1879 France, Third Republic, 5 centimes (100 centimes=1 franc). The coin shows an allegorical head of Ceres as Liberty facing left within a beaded circle. Around, the legend REPUBLIQUE FRANCAISE (French Republic) and the date 1879. Stars are on either side of the date. The Reverse shows a wreath and inside, 5 CENTIMES, the mint mark “A” (Paris) is below. At the outside of the wreath is the legend LIBERTE EGALITE FRATERNITE (Liberty, Equality, Brotherhood). This design type was used from 1871 to 1921. 1879 Mintage: 1,955,000.

Value Range, in low grade, for 1879-A 5 centimes – US 50 cents to $1. Value Range, in low grade, for 1879-A, anchor w.bar by mint mark, 5 centimes – US$5-$15.

The French Revolution of 1789 was the beginning of a series of political events that changed France from a Monarchy to a Republic. Here’s a short history:

  • The monarchy was abolished in 1793 and the First Republic was declared.
  • Napoleon Bonaparte successfully overthrew the First Republic in 1799 and declared that he was Emperor of France and King of Italy.
  • Napoleon abdicated in 1814 after a series of military defeats. He was exiled to Elba.
  • The Monarchy was restored under King Louis XVIII.
  • Napoleon returned to France in 1815 but his army was destroyed at the battle of Waterloo. Napoleon was exiled to St. Helena. He died in 1821.
  • King Louis XVIII was again restored as King of France in 1815.
  • Louis was succeeded by Charles X (1824-30) and was overthrown by revolution. He was replaced by King Louis Philippe of Orleans.
  • Another revolution in 1848 removed the monarchy from power and created the Second Republic. Louis Napoleon Bonaparte (Napoleon III), the nephew of Napoleon, was elected president. He became emperor of France in 1852.
  • After France was defeated in the Franco-Prussian War in 1870, the third Republic was established (1871-1940).