The Numismatic Bibliomania Society



The E-Sylum: Volume 5, Number 33, August 12, 2002, Article 10


Dick Johnson writes: "The Paris Mint continues to be the leader in cutting edge technology for coin and medal production. I attended their briefing for the numismatic press at the ANA convention in New York City (Aug 1-4). Paris Mint officials showed slides of their new products, some of which were on display at their booth, others so new they did not have samples to show yet. Four items captured my attention the most -- three coins, one medal. One coin was part of a five-coin series on the Bicentennial of the Birth of Victor Hugo. It showed a woman in a dress on the reverse. It was covered in blue translucent enamel. The details of the dress were struck in the surface of the coins, which had a slightly sunken form. You could see through the translucent enamel and the slight depression formed the barrier to retain the enamel. Stunning! Another coin is "in the shape of a wave" to quote their literature. Called the Ultimate Franc it was the last one franc denomination coin issued by the French Republic. Designed by Phillippe Starck, this has to be seen live -- no photograph can show the wave. I am going to guess a preformed blank with the wave shape was used for striking, but I don't see how it could have been fed and struck in a coining press. These creative French! But do not even think about putting this in a vending machine or fare box. The third coin was silver with a gold insert on a 2-franc piece. While this is not new, the insert was an unusual shape. The technology here was the critical tolerances of the exact depression in the surface of the coin, with the insert struck in gold and trimmed to match that depression. They had no sample to show, but the best of my memory was the insert was roughly in the shape of the state of Minnesota. Believe me, friends, this is no easy task. I asked about their production problems at the press conference and the best they could say was it required exception quality control. I can believe that! But the resulting piece is exceptional! They also had a calendar medal separate from their yearly series of calendar medals. This was a perpetual calendar. It contained 12 bushings (small holes) in an arc across the top of the medal with numbers 1 through 12 (for months); and 31 bushings in an arc adjacent to the bottom rim (with numbers 1 to 31 for the date). A thin curved rod stretched from top to bottom with pins on each end which fit snugly in one of the holes at top and one at the bottom. Plug in the top pin for the month and the bottom pin for the date. This was a highly creative concept. A for creativity. C for execution. The obverse bore no further design other than lines in similitude to longitude and latitude. The reverse was so mediocre that I don't recall the design. Further, the Paris Mint displayed five, repeat five!, calendar medals for the year 2002: Four-Leaf Clover, Euro 2002, Tree, Zodiac and Le Petit Prince. All suitable to add to a calendar medal topic collection; any or all would nicely grace any cabinet. However, this is the most I have seen from any mint for a single year. This does indicate the popularity of calendar year medals and I presume the Paris Mint feels there is a market for this number. Will we see that many next year? We searched the other booths, both mints, distributors and dealers for new technology without much success. We did observe some excellent hologram inserts at the Panda America booth manned by Mel Wacks. While not new we did observe elsewhere some creative medallic boxes. These are slightly larger than a lady's compact. Several inspired by the new Euro in Europe; I can see Euro coins being kept in these boxes. Another had a clock inside as the lid swings open. When struck solid the same design for the boxes result in a paperweight."

Wayne Homren, Editor

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