Monnaie de Paris has just released the French contribution to the 2017 European Silver Coin Programme(also known as the Europa Star Coin Programme). This is the second coin in the “Five Ages of Europe” series that started in 2016, and is dedicated to the age of glass and iron.
The Europa Coin Programme is a very unique initiative. Participation is entirely voluntary for any of the nations of the European Union, currently there are nine counties that are issuing coins as a part of the initiative. All coins minted in the same year are designed around the same theme, meant to celebrate European identity. The programme has been running since 2004 and was re-launched in 2016 with a new five year series called the Five Ages of Europe. 2016 depicted the modern era while 2017's theme is the industrial age, or the age of iron and glass.
The reverse of this new coin from the Paris Mint celebrates this are from the French perspective with three of France's most impactful contributions during the 19th century. To the right of the coin is the bust of one of France's literary giants, Victor Hugo. Hugo is responsible for writing such iconic literary works of art such as “The Hunchback of Notre-Dame” and “Les Misérables”.
The coin is anchored in the centre by an image of Paris' most recognisable landmark, the Eiffel Tower. The tower was originally conceived as the centrepiece of the 1889 Exposition Universelle(world's fair) in Paris. The expo was held during the year of the 100th anniversary of the storming of the Bastille, which is considered as the symbolic beginning of the French Revolution. The coin's denomination is noted at the base of the Eiffel Tower.
Finally to the left is the familiar image of Marianne, or more specifically here Liberty as she is depicted in the painting “Liberty Leading the People” by artist Eugène Delacroix. She is depicted as the literal and allegorical embodiment of freedom and liberty, leading the people to freedom. The painting was meant as a commemoration of the July Revolution of 1830.
The obverse of the the French coin remains unaltered from last year with the exception of the date changing from 2016 to 2017. The centre of the coin depicts a stylised image of Europa surrounded by the five pointed star of the Europa Star Programme. The legend reads : “REPUBLIQUE FRANCAISE” and “EUROPE ROMANTIQUE & MODERNE” in two lines encircling the central image.
The re are two silver coins available for this design. The first is a €10 90% silver proof crown sized coin. The 37mm(1.456 inch) coin weighs 22grams(0.77 oz) and has a mintage of 20 000 coins. A feature unique to the Silver coins in this series is the fact that the French flag being brandished by Liberty is colourized. The red, white and blue of the French tri-colour behind the Eiffel tower leaves little doubt as to the coin's origin.
The second silver piece is a special 5oz silver coin, struck from .950 fineness silver to a 50mm(1.9685 inch) coin. With a limited mintage of 500 coins this 5 oz €50 silver coin is being sold at €495.00(US$525) by the French Mint, this in contrast to the €68.00(US$72) of the crown coin.
In addition to the two silver coins there are also no less than four pure gold coins to choose from. Lets start with the most modest of these and work our way up from there. To start things off there is a €5, 0.5 gram(0.017 oz) gold coin that measures 11mm(0.433 inch) in diameter. This coin has a mintage of 5000 coins and is being sold at €69.00(US$73) each.
Second in line is the €50, 1/4oz gold proof coin. This coin measures 22mm(0.8661 inch) and carries a mintage figure of 1000 coins The Paris Mint is selling this piece for €505.00(US$535) each.The next progression is a 1oz pure gold proof coin. This crown sized coin measures 37mm(1.456 inch) in diameter with a denomination of €200 and a total mintage of 500 coins. The 1 oz coin will set you back €2130.00(US$2250) each.
The final gold coin in the series is a massive 5oz, that's 155.5 gram, pure gold proof coin that measures 50mm(1.6985 inch). The 5oz coin has a denomination of €500 and a limited mintage of 99 coins. With a price tag of €10 658.00(US$11256) per coin I don't expect they will be flying off the shelves, so to speak, but the limited mintage of such a large gold coin will make it an attractive proposition to some. All four of the gold coins are struck from pure .999 Fineness gold.
Overall this is yet another well designed coin from Monnaie de Paris, the silver coin with the colourized flag especially seems to pop. A high standard has been set for the Europa Star Programme for 2017, time will tell if the other participating countries will rise to the challenge. World Numismatic News will be sure to keep you up to date with the program as it unfolds, either way.