Stack’s Bowers & Ponterio to Offer Unique French Gold Proof Set

Author: By Stack’s Bowers Galleries / March 21, 2023

Costa Mesa, CA – In their upcoming April Hong Kong auction—always a collector favorite and industry trend-setter—legendary auction house Stack’s Bowers & Ponterio will offer a multitude of numismatic rarities both within and outside of the special Rarities Night Session devoted specifically to vintage Chinese issues. One such treasure emanates not from Asia, but instead from the gilded opulence of turn-of-the-century Europe – an apparently unique four-piece proof set from France. It is pedigreed to the fabled King Farouk/Palace of Egypt Collection sold in 1954 and has not crossed the auction block since gracing a Superior sale during the final month of the 1980s. This proof set features impeccable quality and precision of strike, along with the distinctive “flan bruni” appellation—a French term for specially produced planchets meant to convey the pinnacle of manufacture. This “flan bruni” characteristic is rarely encountered for the larger two denominations (the “Winged Genius” 100 & 50 Francs), and is simply unknown otherwise for the smaller two denominations (the “Marianne/Rooster” 20 & 10 Francs). In addition, the 100 & 50 Francs in this set each represent the highest grade for the specific types within the PCGS census, attesting to the set’s unrivaled status.

The specific reasoning behind such an elevated, precise level of manufacture is not fully understood, although when observing the years (1889 and 1900) in which any “flan mat” and “flan bruni” examples are known, one sees a rather obvious connection: the World’s Fair. In each of those years, the “Exposition Universelle,” as it would have been known domestically, took place within France and, more specifically, in Paris itself. It seems rather likely that, during each of these events which put Paris at the center of the world’s stage, one of the globe’s most advanced mints would take the opportunity to display their seemingly unrivaled minting capabilities. In the case of the 1889 exposition, a coining press was set up at the grounds for such a function. Also tying the mint and this event together is the fact that the Marianne obverse design of the 20 and 10 Francs was designed by Art Nouveau master Jules-Clément Chaplain, who also designed the nearly-identical award medal for the 1900 fair. When taking into account the apparently unique nature of these four pieces, their sheer beauty, their sublime craftsmanship and their magnificent provenance to the World’s Fair and King Farouk’s vast collection, it is impossible to predict the lofty heights to which it could soar when it crosses the auction block in the Stack’s Bowers & Ponterio April Hong Kong Auction. It may be a very long time before admiring collectors once again have the chance to make such a historically important numismatic relic their own.

The entire Stack’s Bowers & Ponterio April 2023 Hong Kong Auction is available for viewing and bidding at For more information email [email protected] or [email protected].

About Stack’s Bowers Galleries

Stack’s Bowers Galleries conducts live, Internet and specialized auctions of rare U.S. and world coins and currency and ancient coins, as well as direct sales through retail and wholesale channels. The company’s nearly 90-year legacy includes the cataloging and sale of many of the most valuable United States coin and currency collections to ever cross an auction block — The D. Brent Pogue Collection, The John J. Ford, Jr. Collection, The Louis E. Eliasberg, Sr. Collection, The Harry W. Bass, Jr. Collection, The Joel R. Anderson Collection, The Norweb Collection, The Cardinal Collection, The Sydney F. Martin Collection and The Battle Born Collection — to name just a few. World coin and currency collections include The Pinnacle Collection, The Louis E. Eliasberg, Sr. Collection of World Gold Coins, The Kroisos Collection, The Alicia and Sidney Belzberg Collection, The Salton Collection, The Wa She Wong Collection, and The Thos. H. Law Collection. 

The company is headquartered in Costa Mesa, California, with galleries in New York, Boston and Philadelphia. Offices are also located in New Hampshire, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Virginia, Hong Kong, Paris and Vancouver. Stack’s Bowers Galleries hosts an annual Global Showcase in August featuring United States coins and currency, Ancient coins and World coins and currency in its Costa Mesa auction gallery. They are also the Official Auctioneer for several important numismatic events, including the New York International Numismatic Convention, the Whitman Coin & Collectibles Spring, Summer and Winter Expos, the Spring and Fall Hong Kong shows, and the Maastricht Paper Money Shows. 

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