France this year continues it's unrepentant celebration of French numismatics with the 2017 instalment of the Sower series of gold and silver collectors coins.
In 2017 Monnaie de Paris'(French Mint) the Sower series will be paying tribute to one of the most renowned coins in French history, the Louis d'Or. For nearly a century and a half the Louis d'Or was the uncontested measuring stick when it came to French circulating currency. From it's introduction in 1640 by King Louis XIII until its abolition during the French revolution.
Naturally the coin underwent several changes during that time, including the official value. But the design remained largely the same throughout. The Obverse would bear an effigy of the ruling monarch, while the reverse displays the royal coat of arms. For most of the coin's history there were three main denominations, namely half, one and two Louis coins.
This is the fourth coin in a planned series of seven that began in 2014 meant to celebrate the most famous and significant coins in French history. Monnaie de Paris began the series as a means to celebrate it's 1150th anniversary in that year.
2014 started things off with Charles the Bald's Denier and celebrating the Edict of Pîtres, signed by Charles the Bald in 864, establishing the ten official minting workshops and laying the groundwork for what would today become Monnaie de Paris.
Then 2015 the Franc à Cheval was featured. First minted in 1360 the Franc à Cheval is considered as the first French Franc coin.
2016 focussed its attention on the renaissance with the fist heavy silver French coin, The Teston.
This then brings us back to the 2017 Louis d'Or coin in the Sower series. Since the coin was essentially minted for almost 150 years the reverse of the coin depicts scenes referencing three of the most famous Kings called Louis. Firstly, to the top, is a reproduction of a 1643 Louis d'Or featuring Louis XIII. Then to the right is a bust of Louis XIV. Finally to the left is a scene of men on horseback with the word “Fontenoy” just above it. This references the Battle of Fontenoy which was a decisive French Victory for Louis XV in the War of the Austrian Succession in 1745. The denomination is also also inscribed on the reverse with the word “Euro” appearing in lower case in a reverse proof finish. The denomination amount(10, 50 or 100) appears slightly offset from the centre and in a frosted proof finish. The design is completed with a pearl border inside the raised rim.
The obverse of the coin is shared across the entire series and depicts one of the most prolific images in French numismatics. That of Oscar Roty's “La Semeuse” or The Sower. The Sower is a depiction of Marianne, the defacto symbol of the French republic, walking barefoot in a field while sowing seeds. The original was sculpted in 1887 by Roty in wax, mounted on slate. It first featured on French coins from 1897
The Sower is surrounded by the twelve five-pointed stars of the European Union. There is a horizontal striped pattern to her left and a vertical one to the right. The letters “RF” appear at her back, they stand for “République Française” or the “French Republic”. The date appears as “20” and “17” - one at either end of the coin. Mintmarks of Monnaie de Paris are on apposite sides of the bottom star.
As indicated above, the coin is available in in three denominations. The first is a 1/2oz()15.5 gram gold coin, measuring 31mm(1.22inch) with a denomination of 100 Euros. With a mintage of 500 coins, this coin can be ordered directly from the Monnaie de Paris website for €1060.00 (US$1125)each.
The second issued piece is a 50 Euro 1/4oz gold coin. Both gold coins are minted from pure .999 Fineness gold, with this 1/4oz(7.78 gram) gold coin measuring 22mm(08661.Inch) in diameter. With a mintage of 1000 coin it is selling for €495.00(US$525) a piece.
Then we have the last but assuredly most popular of the trio. The Silver 10 Euro crown coin. Struck from .900 Fineness silver, the coin measures 37mm(1.4566 inch) with a total weight of 22 grams(.776 oz) in a proof finish. The coin has a more substantial mintage figure of 5000 coins and a far more affordable pricetag at €55.00(US$$58) each.
In my opinion this is yet another fantastic series from the French Mint who keeps outdoing themselves in both creativity and design of their ongoing and new commemorative coins. There are definitely a few world mints that can stand to learn a few things from them.