The French Mint has consistently delivered solid numismatic products over the past decade or so, their Women of France series is still one of my favourites of the last couple of years. Monnaie de Paris also issued one of the first domed coins, years before the US Mint's baseball hall of Fame dollar coin or Australia's excellent Northern Skies series. I also defy anyone to have a look at the Paris' Treasures or Seine Banks series and not be impressed.
This tradition of excellence looks set to continue in the coming years with the new Marianne trilogy, which sees it's first release in 2017. The image of Marianne is an allegorical representation of the three pillars upon which the French republic is founded. Liberty, Equality and Fraternity will over the next three years each be featured on it's own collector's coins in both gold and silver.
So while 2018 will likely see Equality and 2019 Fraternity, 2017 features Liberty. The reverse of the coin features an invigorated and modern depiction of Marianne, her traditional flowing hair being swept off to the right of the coin. She is wearing a Phrygian cap(also known as a liberty cap in the United States) with a cockade pinned to the side. This was a very popular symbol during the French revolution and has since come to represent liberty and freedom. She wears a wreath of laurel and oak symbolising both peace and wisdom. The date of “2017” is inscribed to the right, and the theme of “Liberté” is etched in reverse proof to the lower right.
The “L” of “Liberté” slowly falls away to the left and is then transformed into a flock of birds all flying towards the republic's cockade at the top of the coin. This represents the ideals of liberty and freedom for both the French Republic and for her people. The reverse design is rounded off by an ornate border of lines and dots, with privy and mintmarks appearing to the bottom left.
The image of Marianne has appeared in French art and numismatics for hundreds of years. First appearing in the 19th century following the French revolution and becoming very prominent in the 20th century. Featuring on virtually every denomination of circulating currency in one form or another. She has become an enduring symbol of the French republic and the ideals her people strive towards.
The obverse design is dominated by three interlocking hexagons that represent the French landmass, or national borders. On the inside of those is a stylised representation of the Euro symbol(€) where “REPUBLIQUE”, “FRANCAISE” and “EURO” are arranged in such a way to mimic the € symbol. The denomination is framed by two branches, one oak and the other laurel, in a semi-circle.
The coin is available in three denominations and two different metals. Firstly there is a 250 Euro gold coin, struck from pure .999 Fineness gold. The 23mm(0.9055 inch) coin weighs 3.75 gram(0.1322 oz) and carries a mintage of 25 000 coins. The only gold coin for this release, it can be ordered for €250.00 (US$270)each.
Then the two remaining coins are both struck from .900 Fineness silver. The first is a considerably larger €100 silver coin that tips the scales at 50 gram(1.7632 oz). This coin measures 47mm(1.85 inch) and has a mintage of 15 000 coins. Similar to the gold coin, this version is selling at face value for €100.00 (US$110)each.
The final coin will surely be the most popular, and based on the mintage figures Monnaie de Paris seems to agree, The 20 Euro coin consists of 18 gram(0.6349 oz) of 90% silver to a 33mm(1.299 inch) coin. Now bizarrely this is the only coin that is available in a proof finish. The above coins are only being stuck in either uncirculated for the silver €100 or brilliant uncirculated for the gold €250 coin.
The proof €20 has a mintage of 10 000 coins and is being released by the mint for €45.00 (US$50)each. While the uncirculated coin will be sold at a face value, like the other two denominations, of €20.00 (US$22)each, with a maximum mintage of 100 000 coins.
While the coin is by no means ground breaking, the reverse design is rich in symbolism and elegant enough to feel fresh. Marianne revived for a new generation of numismatics. Whether you get the gold or the silver coins, the complete trilogy should make a very nice addition to most collections by 2019 when the set concludes.