The Napoleon to the French is what the Sovereign is to the British, their most revered coin and this “national” coin would be normally be each countries prime choice for investment. Both coins share the same principal of good design, quality minting and 22 carat gold — not to be confused with 24k gold coins.
The Marianne rooster illustrated here is a gold French coin emblematic of a time when golden Franks shone all over Europe. The original design was by Jean-Clement Chaplain and is used on both the obverse and reverse. Because of the quantity produced; they are traded as bullion coins and demand little premium except in times of crisis
There is a huge difference between the two countries in our attitudes towards gold and gold coins and this is historic. In short, the French are gold hoarders, the greatest in Europe by far and the British are not. French citizens hold approximately 10 times the amount of gold that is in the UK national reserve.
Due to the uncertainty and trauma of war and occupation over the last 100 years and numerous devaluations of the French Franc, the French transferred a proportion of their wealth into a tangible asset, mainly gold Napoleons. Conversely the British have never suffered in this way so had no need for gold insurance and in fact were actively discouraged by the government making it difficult for UK citizens to own gold coins.
Why is this of any interest to someone in the UK who may want to invest in gold coins? The French will always turn to gold as insurance to protect their wealth and this creates issues of supply and demand causing the premium on the Napoleon 20 FRF and the half Napoleon 10 FRF to rise in times of crisis. During October 2008 when financial panic was dominant in the world the premium differential (the difference between the normal premium and the highest sell price) on the half Napoleon rose to over 80% as the French sought refuge in gold.
There is a similar history with the Napoleon during the panic in the eighties the premium on the Napoleon ran to 100% and in October 2008 it rose to 48% for a short time; but in the table below we use the regular premium in that period. In the UK a premium rise on Sovereigns in time of crisis is far more conservative.
It follows that buying Napoleons at a time of normal premium and holding for a time when there is unrest be it political or financial would generate a very good ROI.
The table shows the premium that coins attracted at the height of the crisis in October 2008. Remarkably some coins can be bought at very little or even negative premium in certain times and there is then the potential of a premium rise. Coins that are in short supply, are difficult to mint and or are minted in small numbers generally attract a higher basic premium
A very attractive mechanisms is to buy the Napoleons and store them in secure third-party vaults in France or Switzerland where they are fully insured, you have an independent certificate of ownership and they are in your control. Even better is to belong to a community that allows you store your investment in a vault; but at the same time allowing you to buy and sell amongst that community, without moving the coins, thus simplifying the whole process and removing any dealer cuts.