Women of France Coin Series Heralds Revolutionary Pioneer


Monnaie de Paris(the French Mint) is continuing their excellent Women of France series in 2017 with the sixth coin to be released to the series, this time dedicated to Olympe de Gouges.

France 2017 Women of France - Olympe de Gouges Silver Coin Reverse

France 2017 Women of France - Olympe de Gouges Silver Coin Reverse

The Olympe de Gouges coin is the third design to be released for the relatively new series in 2017, proceeded by coins dedicated to Catherine de Medici and Madame de Pompadour(La Marquise de Pompadour). The series was first issued by the Paris Mint in 2016 and yielded the Queen Clotilde, Queen Matilda, and most notably, the Joan of Arc coins in that year.

Olympe de Gouges is today best remembered as an 18th Century playwright and political activist. Following the death of her husband in 1766, she moved to Paris and was quickly drawn to the artistic and philosophical communities. She wrote around forty essays, manifestos, literary treatises, political pamphlets and socially conscious plays during her lifetime.

Olympe de Gouges (C. 1790)

Olympe de Gouges (C. 1790)

Her work often centred around social issues such as slavery and equal rights for women. These ideas were considered somewhat radical at the time, so when the French revolution gained momentum she became very outspoken and increasingly politically active.

Her most renowned work is a document entitled : “ Declaration of the Rights of Woman and the Female Citizen”(Déclaration des droits de la femme et de la citoyenne) which she wrote in response to the new French constitution of 1791. Dismayed that the new document did not grant French Women greater rights, she wrote the declaration in the hopes of redressing, what in her eyes was a critical shortcoming of the new constitution. While granting equal suffrage, women were still denied the right to vote. She also suggests that women be granted equal rights to own property, receive legal protection from an abusive spouse and receive custody after a divorce, amongst several others.

France 2017 Women of France - Olympe de Gouges Silver Coin Obverse

France 2017 Women of France - Olympe de Gouges Silver Coin Obverse

After the declaration failed to be adopted by the National Assembly she became increasingly disillusioned with the revolution, especially the influential Jacobins and mass executions. In 1793 she published a political poster entitled “The Three Urns, or the Salvation of the Fatherland, By An Aerial Traveller”("Les trois urnes, ou le salut de la Patrie, par un voyageur aérien") in which she advises that a referendum be held to decide the form of government that France should have. She puts forward three choices as : a unitary republic, a federalist government or a constitutional monarchy.

This led to her arrest and eventual execution at the infamous Place de la Revolution during the period now known as the reign of terror, on the 3rd of November 1793, under the charge of “Attempting to re-instate the Monarchy”.

France 2017 Women of France - Olympe de Gouges Gold Coin Reverse

France 2017 Women of France - Olympe de Gouges Gold Coin Reverse

The reverse of the coin features a three-quarter portrait of Olympe de Gouges, with a fine stole wrapped around her neck and shoulders. The words “OLYMPE DE GOUGES” and “1748 – 1793”. The background of the coin is decorated with a pattern that is typical of late 18th century French textiles.

The obverse of the coin has the words “DÉCLARATION DES DROITS DE LA FEMME” to the top. A quotation from the Declaration of the Rights of Woman and the Female Citizen is inscribed in the middle and reads : “LA FEMME NAÎT LIBRE ET DEMEURE ÉGALE À L'HOMME EN DROITS”. This is a line from the 1st article of her declaration and translates in English as “Woman is born free and remains equal to man in rights”. The dates “1791” and “2017” appear above and below the denomination to the bottom of the coin. The same pattern as is found on the reverse is also present on the obverse fields.

France 2017 Women of France - Olympe de Gouges Gold Coin Obverse

France 2017 Women of France - Olympe de Gouges Gold Coin Obverse

The silver coin is struck from .900 Fineness silver and measures 37mm (1.45 inch) for a weight of 22grams(0.77oz). The special proof quality coin has a mintage of 5000 coins and is being sold by the Paris mint for €55.00(US$60) each.

The second release is a 1/4oz gold coin, with a denomination of €50. This coin measures 22mm(0.866 inch) and is struck from pure .999 Fineness gold. With a limited mintage of 1000 coins the French Mint is selling these coins for €495.00(US$545) each upon release.

Another very attractive addition to the Women of France series, by Monnaie de Paris, in my opinion.

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