Monnaie de Paris(French Mint) is following up on it's excellent UNESCO – Banks of The Seine series in 2017 with the National Assembly and Place of Concorde(Assemblée Nationale et Place de la Concorde) coin.
In previous years this series has depicted Orsay and the Petit Palais(2016) as well as the Invalides and the Grand Palais(2015). Celebrating the iconic monuments of Paris and her UNESCO inscribed world heritage sites, the series issues both gold and silver coins with delicate gold and rhodium cladding added to the latter.
The 2017 coin in this series honours both the French National Assembly, at the The Palais Bourbon, and the Place of Concorde. These two French National monuments face each other from opposite banks of the Seine river, in Paris, connected by the Pont de la Concorde.
The Palais Bourbon is the seat of the French National Assembly, who's role it is to represent the French people, pass legislation and regulate government activity. The building originally finished construction in 1726 as a country estate for Louise-Françoise de Bourbon, the duchesse de Bourbon, and daughter of Louis XIV. During the French revolution it was nationalised and used as a meeting place for the Council of Five Hundred(the precursor to the modern lower house of parliament). Then in 1806 Napoleon Bonaparte added the classical colonnade as a facade to mirror the Madeleine Church, which faces it from the opposite end of the Place de la Concorde, giving the building the appearance we know today.
The Place de la Concorde is the largest public square in Paris, at a total area of 8.64 hectares (21.3 acres). Originally completed in 1772 to showcase an equestrian statue of King Luis XV at it's centre, the square was named the Place de la Luis XV. Then during the French Revolution the statue of Luis XV was torn down and the area was renamed the Place de la Révolution. This was the most notorious time in it's history, as at this time a guillotine was erected in the square and the Place de la Révolution saw the public executions of King Louis XVI and Queen Marie Antoinette - amongst thousands of others. The square would undergo several name changes after that but was finally denominated as the Place de la Concorde after the July revolution of 1830, a name it has retained ever since.
The most notable features of the Place de la Concorde today is a 23 metre(75 ft) high Egyptian obelisk and two grand fountains. The obelisk, called the Luxor Obelisk, is an authentic 3500 year old obelisk that was gifted to the people of France by the Ottoman ruler Muhammad Ali Pasha in 1829. The hieroglyphs on the obelisk's side exalts the reign of Pharaoh Ramesses II and once stood at the entrance of the temple of Luxor, hence the name. Then in 1836 King Louis Philippe had it placed at the centre of the Place de la Concorde, on the spot where the statue of Louis XV once stood.
Louis Philippe also added two grand fountains at either end of the square. The two fountains are richly adorned with allegorical figures, one representing the oceans and the other the rivers. The fountains and the obelisk are aligned on a south/north axis, effectively creating a connecting point between the Madeleine Church and the Rue Royale to the north and the Pond de la Concorde bridge to the Palais Bourbon towards the south.
Just as the river Seine divides these two historic sites, the reverse design of the coin is equally divided to represent both locations. The first half represents the Palais Bourbon, which houses the modern French National Assembly. To the bottom right is a representation of the colonnade that faces the Seine to the north. Opposite that is the chamber of deputies with a partial view of the dome sheltered just behind the buildings' facade to the right. This last part is selectively gilded with rhodium giving it a dark grey, almost black appearance when set against the proof silver coin.
The other half of the reverse design is dedicated to the Place de la Concorde featuring one of the two Fontaines de la Concorde in the middle of the coin with the Luxor Obelisk towering behind it. On either side are the identical buildings that house the French Naval Ministry to the east, and the Hôtel de Crillon to the west. Here the fountain as well as the top pyramidion of the obelisk are both clad in yellow gold. The only inscription on the reverse are the words : “RÉPUBLIQUE FRANÇAISE” in two lines, with the two words oriented in opposite directions.
The obverse design is again split in two parts, this time in a vertical direction. The left side is minted with a traditional proof finish and contains the UNESCO logo to the top, with the denomination and date listed below. The words “Paris, rives de la Seine”appear along the top rim. Finally to the bottom is an outline of the river Seine with two dots that denote the relative location of the two sites depicted on the reverse.
The right side in turn is minted to a reverse proof finish, and depicts a top-down map of the area. The words “PLACE DE LA CONCORDE” and “PALAIS BOURBON” are inscribed along the rim.
In total Monaie de Paris is making five coins available to collectors in different denominations. The first is a silver €10 coin struck from 90% silver on a 37mm( 1.457 inch)coin, weighing 22 gram(0.776 oz). The €10 silver coin has a total mintage of 5000 coins and is priced at €78.00(US$85) each.
The second silver coin is a 5oz silver round measuring 50mm(1.969 inch), struck from .950 Fineness silver. The €50 denominated coin has a total limited mintage of 500 coins and is selling for €494.00(US$537) each.
Then we have the three gold coins, starting off with the smallest piece at the half a gram proof gold coin with a face value of €5. The coin measures 11mm(0.433 inch) and has a limited mintage of 5000 coins. Struck from pure .999 Fineness gold and is being released for €69.00(US$75) per coin.
The second gold coin is the ¼oz €50 denominated pure gold coin, struck from .999 Fineness gold. The coin has a total mintage of 2000 pieces and is selling at €505.00(US$550) on the Monaie de Paris website.
Then to round things off there is the €200 1oz proof gold coin. Again measuring 37mm(1.457 inch) and struck from .999 Fineness gold. The coin has a total mintage of 500 coins and the Paris Mint is releasing them at a price of €2130.00(US$2315) each.
Another fantastic design from Monaie de Paris, especially on the two silver coins. But that has become almost a mantra in the last few years, so no real surprise there but good to see all the same.