The Numismatic Bibliomania Society



The E-Sylum: Volume 17, Number 37, September 7, 2014, Article 22


E-Sylum readers have come thru in spades in response to Tom Garver’s inquiry about Paris Mint medal catalogs. Thanks! -Editor

David Gladfelter writes:

Regarding Tom Garver’s inquiry about Monnaie de Paris catalogues, there are probably a number of them. The one I have is titled "Catalogue Général des Médaille".

Paul Bosco writes:

The Catalog General de la Monnaie (=Mint) de Paris is a series of paperbound books, about 8 1/2 x 11". I have them and I think they were done in the 1960s-70s. Vols. 1 & 2 are early issues; essentially these are catalogs of what the Mint restruck. The very important Volume 3 covers the great art medals periods, 1871-1945. Most of these medals, though produced at the Mint, have not been available for decades. Volume 4 was published in multiple parts --I have three-- and it is like Volume 3, but covers the less popular modern artists, and the late work of some "Volume 3 artists." I paid something like $125 for my set in the 1980s (to Dick Johnson?) Good luck if you want the books now. Also, like Krause-Misher catalogs, they become frayed. They are rather like the Kenneth Failor catalog of US Mint medals, If there was no Juilian and if the US Mint made five times as many medals.

Scott Miller writes:

The Paris Mint has been issuing catalogues for 200 years or more. I have several issued over the years, the earliest being from 1817. In addition to a number of specialized exhibition catalogues issued post World War II, including the ever popular La Medaille en France de Poscarme a la fin de la Belle Epoque from 1967, there is a multi-volume catalogue of medals that can be thought of as seven phone books. The Catalogue General Illustre des Editions de la Monnaie de Paris is a five volume work in seven parts, though I have heard there may be another additional volume. The seven are

1. De L’Antiquite a Louis XVI
2. De la 1ere a la 3e Republique
3. La Troisieme Republique
4* De 1945 a nos jours (A-D)
4** De 1945 a nos jours (E-O)
4*** De 1945 a nos jours (P-Z)
5. Index thématique

Please forgive me for not including the appropriate accent marks. The post-1945 volumes list medals published through the late 1970’s.

David T. Alexander writes:

I suspect that Tom Garver may be thinking of the Catalogue Generale Illustre des Editions de la Monnaie de Paris, a six-volume paperback set, each book measuring 20.2 x 29.5 cm (11-5/16 x 8-3/16 inches). These books list, describe and illustrate by black and white halftones nearly all medals struck by the Paris Mint since the reign of King Louis XI, ca. 1468. Added are listings of medallic copies of ancient coins, seals, coin weights and every imaginable kind of quasi-medallic item offered by this historic Mint, whose collection of working dies includes some 125,000 die pairs.

Volume 1 covers Antiquity through the Constitutional reign of King Louis XVI; vol. 2 chronicles the Revolution through Napoleon, the restored Bourbons, Louis Philippe, Second Republic and Napoleon III. Volume 3 covers the Third Republic from 1870 until 1940. All medals introduced since 1945 are divided alphabetically by artist, and covered in three even thicker volumes described as Volume 4*, 4** and 4***. I obtained my set some 30 years ago, and am not certain whether they are still offered by the Mint.

The amount of information contained is staggering. Artists, sculptors, historical figures of every kind are included. To use these books required understanding of the ground rules. The Paris Mint routinely strikes all of these medals today, regarding all types as open-ended and intended for re-issue. The term Restrike is never used. Consider the Comitia Americana series commissioned by America’s Continental Congress during our Revolution. All are available today. For more than a century the Libertas Americana medal was not offered but examples from copy dies can now be obtained.

Modern strikes are identifiable by their very newness and by their patina. Most medals bear Edgemarks including Privy Marks that first appeared in the 1830s and provide approximate dating for strikes made before the 1970s. These marks state the actual metal, such as OR (Gold), ARGENT (Silver), CUIVRE (Copper) or BRONZE. Today an actual date of striking appears on the edge in incuse numbers.

Hope this info is of use. If desired I could submit a list of the relevant Edgemarks. Try cataloguing a Napoleonic collection without knowledge of these marks!

Dick Johnson writes:

If Tom Garver is inquiring about the Paris Mint Catalog I can add some details. While collectors call it the "Paris Mint Catalog" its official title is Catalogue General Illustre des Editiones de la Monnaie de Paris.

It is five volumes bound in seven (volume 4 covering the 20th century requires three volumes). The entire volume 5 is an index. It is self contained in heavy paper covers. All total there are 3,539 pages!

First three volumes are by periods of French history. Volume 1 covers medals up to the 18th century. Volume 2 is the First and Second Republics. Volume 3 is the Third Republic. And that volume 4 (in three) is the 20th century. The work of 815 artists are listed in volume 4.

Every medal is illustrated. This is not a catalog of all the medals struck by the Paris Mint. It is a catalog of all the medals the Paris Mint has for sale! The Paris Mint, it appears, has never discarded a die. It has kept dies since the 15th century. These are still serviceable (although some of the early dies can only strike soft tin to prohibit breakage).There is a name for these tin restrikes but the name eludes me for the moment.

I don't have a count for the total number of medals covered in the catalog. I estimate it is between 15 and 18 thousand. If they don't have any particular medal in stock when you order, they will retrieve the dies and restrike. This has given rise to the collector term "Paris Mint restrike."

Whether you like or dislike restrikes is a matter of opinion. It is, perhaps, a typical French cosmopolitan concept of long-standing heritage. It is a way the French honor their history with numismatic issues, making these medals available for all time. I personally don't find these restrikes offensive. They are not surreptitious copies -- they are official issues from a national Mint of great reputation.

When obtaining a Paris Mint medal on the secondary market it is not impossible to learn when it was struck by the use of the Paris Mint's mintmarks (subject of another article). It may not be as exact as a collector may desire as the cornucopia mintmark was is use from 1880 until late in the 20th century. Recently, however, the Paris Mint has been adding the year restruck on the edge.

This massive, magnificent catalog is a tribute to one man, Pierre DeHay, a one-time Director of the Paris Mint. The seven volumes were published 1977 to 1981 during DeHay's administration. He was undoubtedly the instigator and overseer of this work. One wonders, however, how many French writers, photographers and editors -- government workers -- he had to hire to create this comprehensive illustrative publication.

The catalog is so important I have two sets in my library. I have dog-eared some 20th century pages. I have record of 228 medals the Paris Mint made of American interest. Remember, it struck America's first national medals, including the Libertas Americana Medal -- and thanks to Benjamin Franklin -- the American Committa Series (which the Philadelphia Mint later restruck American versions). It has also honored American historical events, as well as French, such as Lindbergh's flight and America's space flights.

As long as I am interested in medals I never want to be without a copy of the Paris Mint Catalog!

Tom Garver adds:

I knew that these had been issued, and have seen reference to them, but wondered if an enduring reference such as this might have been issued on CD as have the volumes of Forrer's catalogue.

Digitized versions of these catalogs would indeed be a marvelous resource. -Editor

To read the earlier E-Sylum article, see:
NOTES FROM E-SYLUM READERS: AUGUST 31, 2014 : Query: Monnaie de Paris Commemorative Medal Catalog (

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