The French mint, the Monnaie de Paris have produced some beautiful coins over the years, a favourite of ours being the superb From Clovis to Republic series, along with plenty of others. Like most of the big national issuers of coins such as the Royal Mint, The US Mint and the Central Bank of Russia, the mints output leans heavily towards the simple clean-struck coin devoid of colour or adornment. This new series is unusual for the Monnaie de Paris in that a central feature of it is the use of selective gilding to the reverse face.
The series is called Treasures of Paris and depicts some of the finest buildings in Paris that have a gilded part to their facade. To be released at the rate of two coins per year, each issue will be made available in the mints popular 22.2g, 37mm diameter, 0.900 silver format, as well as a larger 5oz version. The second coin pictured further down the page will launch in November and has the Institut de France as its subject. The first coin depicts the impressive Palais Garnier opera house and has a complex and attractive design. In the background is an image of the facade of the Opera Garnier building, behind which is a flurry of musical notes and curtains opening for a performance. In the foreground sits a representation of one of the statues that adorn the top of the buildings facade and, just as in reality, it’s gilded. Available to order now, the smaller coin is €78.00 and the larger and rarer coin sells for €470.00.
The Palais Garnier is a 1,979-seat opera house, which was built from 1861 to 1875 for the Paris Opera. It was originally called the Salle des Capucines, because of its location on the Boulevard des Capucines in the 9th arrondissement of Paris, but soon became known as the Palais Garnier, in recognition of its opulence and its architect, Charles Garnier. The Palais Garnier is “probably the most famous opera house in the world, a symbol of Paris like Notre Dame Cathedral, the Louvre, or the Sacré Coeur Basilica.” This is at least partly due to its use as the setting for Gaston Leroux’s 1910 novel The Phantom of the Opera and, especially, the novel’s subsequent adaptations in films and Andrew Lloyd Webber’s popular 1986 musical. Another contributing factor is that among the buildings constructed in Paris during the Second Empire, besides being the most expensive, it has been described as the only one that is “unquestionably a masterpiece of the first rank.”