A favourite of ours amongst the many Monnaie de Paris coin series is a maritime one simply called French Ships. As the title suggests, it’s a look back at some of the many vessels that have embellished France’s reputation as a maritme nation, one that was at many times the most powerful and far-reaching on earth. The range is broken up into three distinct series, released one each per year. As 2015 is the fourth year of the series we’re looking at coins 10, 11 and 12.

The three themes are distinguished by the type of vessel depicted. There are sailing ships, passenger liners, and warships. The first theme is represented here by possibly the finest of this years entrants, the beautiful 17th century, baroque-style ship of the line, Soleil Royal. As you’d expect, the intricate design of vessels of the day translates well to the coin face and it’s a hugely successful design in our book.

Despite the Royal Sun being a warship, it’s taken the role of part of the sailing ship range, with warship duties being fulfilled by the guided missile cruiser, Le Colbert. Modern vessels by their very nature are less characterful than their older compatriots, but this is also a really nice piece of art, quite similar to one of the classic views of the HMS Belfast that resides on the River Thames in London.

Lastly, the passenger liner is the nineteenth century vessel Gironde. Probably the weakest design, we’d say that was inevitable given the nature of the ships themselves, but that’s kind of disproved by the superb Le France design from 2012 that won Best Silver Coin at the Krause awards in 2014.

All are up for order now, and available in ¼oz gold, 5 oz of 0.950 silver, and 22.2g of 0.900 silver. Mintages are down from previous years at just 1000, 250 and 3000 respectively. Back in 2012 they stood at 1500, 500 and 10000, so a large drop indeed. The coins retail for €480.00, €435.00 and €55.00 each and are packaged in the usual Monnaie de Paris boxes.

SAILING SHIP: ROYAL SUN

The Royal Sun was a French flagship built in 1669 under the reign of Louis XIV. Armed with by 110 cannon, it wass a warship with three bridges which embodied the glory of the Sun King because of its architecture and its beauty. During the war of the League of Ausbourg which began in 1688, Admiral Tourville, coprincipal of the Royal Sun, brought out victory against the Anglo-Dutch fleet. Three years later and at the request of the king, a new battle of warships was committed between the same opponents. Tourville lost the second time the fleets met.

REVERSE: On the coin’s obverse the stern of the vessel is depicted, showing in detail the ornamentation honouring Louis XIV. Further away, the ship can be seen in full sail. In the background, decorative elements from the ship are linked together by rigging to form a motif that covers a large part of the obverse.

OBVERSE: The reverse features a composition of helm and jib found on all the coins dedicated to sailing ships in the collection. The sun motif symbolises the ship’s name.


WARSHIP: LE COLBERT

The Colbert is one of the two antiaircraft cruisers which was put in stream in 1956 right after the Second World War. It was transformed between 1970 and 1972 to become a missiles launcher cruiser. General de Gaulle embarked twice upon the vessel during official visits to South America and to Canada. The vessel saw action on only one occasion, with active participation during the Gulf War in 1991.
The name of the ship makes a reference to Jean-Baptiste Colbert who was King Louis XIV’s Secretary of the Navy.

REVERSE: The face of the coin puts forward the Colbert which just left the city of Bordeaux. In background, we perceive the bridge of Aquitaine reminding us that the cruiser stayed during more than ten years in Bordeaux. Above on the right, Jean-Baptiste Colbert’s bust, former Secretary of Louix XIV is represented.

OBVERSE: The reverse shows a composition common to all five coins dedicated to military vessels in this collection. The silhouettes of the five vessels of the series are crowned by a blue collar on which is found the face value. An arch of chain links frames the yeardate.

PASSENGER LINER: GIRONDE

The Gironde is a French liner which was launched on January 31st, 1869 and sailed for the first time on October 25th of the same year. It was in charge of the transport of mail and messages on the mail line from France to South America. Equipped with 3 masts and being 121 meters long it was known in particular for its speed because it won a race launched against The Britannia, liner of the Pacific Steam Navigation by arriving one hour before over a course going from Rio of Janeiro to the Curve.

REVERSE: The face of the coin puts forward the profile of the Gironde with its impressive bow. Below the liner the word Gironde is registered with a set of graphics. The route between Bordeaux and the Plata is represented through the letter O putting forward the town plan of the Plata as well as the letter D where we find the estuary of the Gironde.

OBVERSE: The reverse shows a composition common to all five coins dedicated to military vessels in this collection. The silhouettes of the five vessels of the series are crowned by a blue collar on which is found the face value. An arch of chain links frames the yeardate.

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SPECIFICATION

DENOMINATION COMPOSITION WEIGHT DIAMETER FINISH MINTAGE BOX / COA
€10 EURO 0.900 SILVER 22.2 g 37.00 mm PROOF 5,000 YES / YES
€50 EURO 0.950 SILVER 163.8 g 50.00 mm PROOF 250 YES / YES
€50 EURO 0.920 GOLD 8.45 g 22.00 mm PROOF 1,000 YES / YES
MONNAIE DE PARIS