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Treasure of Plozévet: a Breton discovery of 239 gold coins

In September 2021, the press announced some Louis XIII and Louis XIV gold coins, minted in the 17th century, have been found, for the greatest delight of numismatists. Three craftsmen discovered the treasure in 2019. It was hidden in the walls of a manor house in Plozévet, Brittany. Let’s take a close look back on this incredible find.

A generous Breton manor

In 2012, a 60-year-old couple from Paris decided to buy a secondary residence in Brittany. They chose a manor house in the town of Plozévet, near Quimper, in the department of Finistère, France. They then began major restoration works.

Treasure de Plozevet
©wikimedia Moreau Henri

In 2019, on the construction site of the outbuildings, three stonemasons discovered a metal box walled up in between two stones. The owner François Mion says he was in Paris when he received a call from his architect to warn him. The next day, he hopped on a train to go to Plozévet. He was shown the 154 gold coins stored in a case. A few days later, a purse containing 85 other gold coins was found.

A 17th-century treasure

The case was quickly turned over to the appropriate authorities. The Mion couple contacted the mayor’s office of Plozévet. Then, the prefect instructed the gendarmerie to make a report and to take pictures of the Breton treasure. The preventive archaeology service of Rennes, then of Caen, examined the royal coins. At the same time, research was carried out on site by an archaeologist and a surveyor in order to date the building. Although the main facade was built in 1723, some of the foundations dated back to the 13th century.

It is assumed that the treasure of Plozévet was concealed in the 17th century, because the Louis d’or coins were all minted during this century. Among the 239 Louis d’or coins, the oldest dated from 1638 and the most recent from 1692. The wealthy person who hid his savings was probably a rich merchant or farmer. We should bear in mind that the Pays Bigouden area was very prosperous at the time. Major commercial exchanges were taking place in the Iroise Sea, between the islands of Ouessant and Sein. Bordeaux wines and cereals were exported to England and Northern Europe from the Breton ports.

239 Louis XIII and Louis XIV gold coins

The inventory indeed attests to 239 gold coins. The numismatists testify to the historical importance of the treasure and the scarcity of some of the coins.

The Plozévet treasure is made up of rare coins minted in 19 workshops in different cities:

  • ● 216 gold coins Louis XIV including a “double Louis d’or à la mèche longue”, struck in 1646 in Dijon. The inventory also mentions “Louis d’or à l’écu”, “Louis à la perruque”, “Louis à la tête nue”, “Louis à la tête virile”, “Louis au buste juvénile”, “Louis à la mèche longue et courte”, as well as “demi Louis d’or à l’écu” ;
  • ● There are also 23 gold coins Louis XIII including a “Louis d’or à la croix des templiers”. The other gold coins Louis XIII are golden Écus, “demi Louis” and “Louis d’or à la mèche courte, mi-longue et longue”.

A prestigious collection and an important discovery for the world of numismatics. To see some of it more closely, 19 coins have joined the collections of the Monnaie de Paris museum. They are accompanied by the two metal boxes that contained them.

Sources : France 3 Géo

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