Discovery of portrait and die variants of the 15 Sols Louis XVI
This article will show you what I found on portraits and dies for 15 Sols type FRANÇAIS and FRANÇOIS. I specify that by the time you read this, my work is already online in the site's database, see here: https://www.all-your-coins.com/en/modern-coins/royales-francaises-travail-en-progression/louis-xvi-1774-1793/monnaies-en-argent/15-sols/.
Note that there are perhaps and probably still other variants to report for certain years. Rare years whose few copies cannot guarantee that only one or two specific dies were used. I also noted coins with or without cedilla, more, coins with or without dot after Sols. This article is the basis for the series on variants for all Sols, half-ecu of 3 livres and ecu of 6 livres. Typically, dies have multiple legend sizes. I just created a simple classification of these sizes by regrouping the letter or the group of letter being in front of the ribbon. Thus, a half-long legend may have the O and I of FRANÇOIS in front of the ribbon or a little indented etc. This varies slightly and shows the number of different dies used. In the same way, there are portraits with a small head, those which I classified are really smaller, there exist portraits seeming to have a head more distant from the word FRANÇOIS when in reality, the portrait is simply shifted towards the high. The FRANÇAIS type, varies only on the 15 Sols type.
Let's start with the portrait of the 15 Sols. The two types, FRANÇOIS and FRANÇAIS have two different portraits, the first, the most common is the one with a very distinct ribbon coming out of the hair. There seems to be also, almost always (too worn coins leave the doubt) a point under the ear. Here it is:
Photo of a coin sold by par cgb.fr, link to the sale and their website: https://www.cgb.fr/louis-xvi-monarque-constitutionnel-15-sols-dit-au-genie-type-francois-1792-lille-ttb-,bry_526551,a.html.
The second portrait has a shorter ribbon, the point of which does not extend beyond the hair:
I saw the second portrait with the small ribbon, only once for the type FRANÇAIS, here is a link to this coin from 1792 Strasbourg mint: https://www.cgb.fr/louis-xvi-monarque-constitutionnel-15-sols-dit-au-genie-type-francais-1792-strasbourg-ttb,v40_0208,a.html. It also seems to be rare for the type FRANÇOIS.
For the rest, I found 3 different legends that are here with their illustrations (variants with long ribbon portrait):
Short reverse legend: with S of FRANÇAIS in front of the ribbon. (1)
Photo of a coin sold by cgb.fr, link to the sale and their website: https://www.cgb.fr/louis-xvi-monarque-constitutionnel-15-sols-dit-au-genie-type-francais-1791-metz-tb,v40_0199,a.html.
Half-long reverse legend: with S of FRANÇAIS between the ribbon and the base of the neck. (2)
Photo of a coin sold by cgb.fr, link to the sale and their website: https://www.cgb.fr/louis-xvi-monarque-constitutionnel-15-sols-dit-au-genie-type-francais-1791-metz-b-,bry_264046,a.html.
Long reverse legend: with S of FRANÇAIS at the base of the neck. (3)
Photo of a coin sold by cgb.fr, link to the sale and their website: https://www.cgb.fr/louis-xvi-monarque-constitutionnel-15-sols-dit-au-genie-type-francais-1791-metz-tb-,bry_513436,a.html.
The coins with the short ribbon, always seem to have the same length of legend. Let's move on to the type FRANÇOIS. The legends are varied and I found a die with a very short legend and a small head. As for the type FRANÇAIS, there are dies with legends lying between long and semi-long etc ... which I obviously not classified, as for the other type, because that would be useless. Here are the variants:
Short reverse legend and small head: with S of FRANÇOIS befor the ribbon. (1)
Photo of a coin sold by cgb.fr, link to the sale and their website: https://www.cgb.fr/louis-xvi-monarque-constitutionnel-15-sols-dit-au-genie-type-francois-1791-lille-tb,bry_287801,a.html. Only one copy seen. Coin visibly recast with a visible lettering underneath the D.
Half long reverse legend: with the S of FRANÇOIS just after the ribbon. (2)
Photo of a coin sold by cgb.fr, link to the sale and their website: https://www.cgb.fr/louis-xvi-monarque-constitutionnel-15-sols-dit-au-genie-type-francois-1792-la-rochelle-tb,bry_276461,a.html.
Long reverse legend: with the O of FRANÇOIS in front of the ribbon. (3)
Photo of a coin sold by cgb.fr, link to the sale and their website: https://www.cgb.fr/louis-xvi-monarque-constitutionnel-15-sols-dit-au-genie-type-francois-1791-limoges-tb-,bry_385822,a.html.
Different dies were used, but apart for portrait 2 of the type FRANÇAIS and the die with small head for the type FRANÇOIS, which seem unique to this day, there is no variant rarer than another.