The final coins in the Great French Ships series, by Monnaie de Paris(The French Mint), have now been released. Completing the five year, forty five coin series that has served as a guide through France's storied naval heritage.
The program began in 2012 and has released three coin designs every year dedicated to sail ships, military vessels and ocean liners from both the past and present. Each design was then minted to three coins. Firstly a 1/4oz gold coin with a face value of 50 Euro. Secondly an impressively large 5oz silver coin, also denominated as 50 Euro. Then lastly a crown sized silver 10 Euro coin to round off the trio.
The final design for both 2016 and the one to conclude the series is dedicated to the SS Ile de France. The Ile de France was a French ocean liner that was first launched in 1926. She undertook her maiden voyage on the 22nd of June 1927 from La Havre to New York. The ship was constructed as part of an agreement between the French government and GCT(French Line) to build a series of passenger liners that would serve a dual purpose of carrying mail across the Atlantic. The mail would be delivered by means of a “catapult launched” sea-plane. The plane would be launched from the ship once the ship was within range of it's destination. In so doing the mail would arrive several days before the ship could dock.
The Ile de France was reported to be the most beautifully decorated passenger ship afloat. It was the only ship of it's time to be entirely decorated in the Art Deco style and had the largest dining room of any ship of that era.
With the onset of World War II the Ile de France first carried 1777(400 more than usual) passengers, mostly Americans fleeing the impending war, from France to New York. She was the last ship to leave France mere hours before the war broke out, on September 3rd 1939. After arriving in New York the ship was seized by the British Admiralty. During the war the ship served as a supply ship, troop transporter and even a floating prison ship for POW's.
While literally thousands of other ships were sunk during the war the Ile de France made it through, and in 1945 was returned to CGT after more than five years of military service. After an extensive refitting and restoration she would return to serve as a luxury ocean liner. In 1956, the Ile de France had a major role in the rescue operation after the collision of the passenger liners SS Andrea Doria and MS Stockholm off Nantucket. During a 6 hour long rescue operation she carried 753 passengers to safety.
Finally, in 1959 the Ile de France served as a floating prop for the American disaster movie “The Last Voyage” that was released in 1960. For the movie she was renamed The SS Claridon. Immediately following that, the SS Ile de France was scrapped in Osaka, Japan.
The reverse design of the coin depicts the ship during her prime, sailing ahead on a calm sea to her destination. In the clear sky above a sea plane can be seen flying away, having just been launched. The Ship's name “ ILE DE FRANCE” is stylized in an art deco font, to evoke the ships own famous decor. The mintmark “RF”(République Française) appears at the very bottom.
The obverse contains all relevant information denoting the coin's date, denomination and name of the series to which it belongs. The title “LES GRANDES NAVIRES FRANÇAIS”(GREAT FRENCH SHIPS) spans the full width of the coin at its centre. Just above to the left are two ship's funnels billowing smoke. The denomination of “50 EURO” appears to the right. Below the title is an ornate pattern that resembles a ship's hull as seen from above, with the date of issue, 2016, appearing at the bottom.
The ¼oz gold 50 Euro coin is struck from .920 Fineness gold and measures22mm. The proof coin has a total weight of 8.45gram and has a limited mintage of only 500 coins. The coin is being offered at the time of release by the Monnaie de Paris for €505.00 each.
The 5oz silver 50 Euro coin is an impressive sight at 163.8grams of .950 Fineness silver. The 50mm proof coin has a limited mintage of only 250 coins total. The coin is on offer by Monnaie de Paris(French Mint) online for €435.00(US$493.00).
The three coins all share a common reverse and obverse design with the only variant being the 10 Euro silver coin's denomination on the obverse side.
The 10 Euro is a 37mm silver coin that tips the scales at 22gram of .900 Fineness silver. The proof coin is by far the most affordable of the three at €55.00(roughly US$63.00 at the time of writing) with a mintage figure of 3000 coins.
All three coins will only be released in proof condition. The French mint has been very innovative of late, their Famous French Women Series looks set to be an extremely exiting series. So while this series could surely have run longer, we at WNN are very exited to see what the future might hold for Monnaie de Paris.