Franc - Encyclopedia

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FRANC, a French coin current at different periods and of varying values. The first coin so called was one struck in gold by John II. of France in 1360. On it was the legend Johannes Dei gracia Francorum rex; hence, it is said, the name. It also bore an effigy of King John on horseback, from which it was called a franc a cheval, to distinguish it from another coin of the same value, issued by Charles V., on which the king was represented standing upright under a Gothic dais; this coin was termed a franc a pied. As a coin it disappeared after the reign of Charles VI., but the name continued to be used as an equivalent for the livre tournois, which was worth twenty sols. French writers would speak without distinction of so many livres or so many francs, so long as the sum mentioned was an even sum; otherwise livre was the correct term, thus "trois livres" or "trois francs," but "trois livres cinq sols." In 1795 the livre was legally converted into the franc, at the rate of 8r livres to 80 francs, the silver franc being made to weigh exactly five grammes. The franc is now the unit of the monetary system and also the money of account in France, as well as in Belgium and Switzerland. In Italy the equivalent is the lira, and in Greece the drachma. The franc is divided into 100 centimes, the lira into loo centesimi and the drachma into 100 lepta. Gold is now the standard, the coins in common use being ten and twenty franc pieces. The twenty franc gold piece weighs 6.4516 grammes, 900 fine. The silver coins are five, two, one, and half franc pieces. The five franc silver piece weighs 25 grammes, .900 fine, while the franc piece weighs 5 grammes, 835 fine. See also Money.

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