Author Topic: 10 RF  (Read 359 times)

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Offline gpimper

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10 RF
« on: November 25, 2019, 11:40:50 PM »
I have always been a fan of these coins.  Italy produced some as well.  Love the double stamp. Viva la France!  8)
The Chief...aka Greg

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Re: 10 RF
« Reply #1 on: November 26, 2019, 09:20:03 AM »
An excellent souvenir, mixing historical references with a modern setting.

The angel with the star and torch is the top of a monument in Paris. It is known as the Génie de la Bastille, the spirit of the Bastille and you can find it on Place de la Bastille (photo: Google Earth). Bastille is a medieval word that indicates a fortified place. Since medieval times, Paris was protected by three fortresses, Vincennes, Bastille and Louvre. Louvre was the seat of the kings. It was eventually replaced by a huge palace, now a museum, but the foundations are partly visible again in the underground corridor leading into the museum. Vincennes is now a minor tourist attraction with some military functions. Bastille has disappeared. During the French revolution, it was stormed and taken by the Parisians and the (few) political prisoners inside were liberated. In the aftermath of the storming, all of France wanted a piece of the castle as a souvenir. The castle was torn apart. The monument is in its place.

Another souvenir of the French revolution is the slogan Liberté Egalité Fraternité on the other side. Liberty stands for the elimination of the social classes (états), the first - nobility, second - the clergy, and third - the riffraff. Equality means equal rights under the law and fraternity refers to social cohesion. The revolution had great influence, both positive and negative. In Britain and the US, the revolution was rejected, as all attention went to the terror period at its end, while in the rest of Western Europe it laid the basis for democracy and the rule of law as we know it today. In South America, it became the basis for resistance against the colonisers and US influence. Today and in history, many states used and use a three-word motto.

That leads me to the letters RF, République Française you pointed out. When France was a kingdom, its coins bore the name France. After the Napoléonic period, they all say République Française or RF, with two exceptions. On the coins of the nazi puppet French state you will find Etat Français, which, together with the motto Travail Famille Patrie was meant as a rejection of the republic and its values, replacing them with the values of its military leader, that would even today appeal to the far right: work, family, fatherland. The Vichy state was seen as a betrayal of the very spirit of France. Can you imagine how Frenchmen saw the emergency 2 francs coins struck in Philadelphia Americans tried to circulate in the South of the country in 1944 with "France" on them? As if they wanted to re-instate royalty?

The aspect of modernity is not just the striped decoration. It is also the circumstances in which the coin was issued. The first 10 francs after the second world war were big silver affairs that did not really circulate. The oil crisis of 1973 made silver coins impractical and pushed inflation up to figures close to 20%. The answer was a big, heavy (10 grams) brass coin, introduced in 1974, called type Mathieu, after its designer. It served until 1987, when it clearly became too costly to make. Its successor, type Jimenez, was a light (6.5 grams) nickel piece. The change was too big, the pretext was that it resembled the 50 centimes. The coin was withdrawn after a few months. It took many more months to come up with what today would have seemed an obvious solution: a bi-metallic coin of the same weight.

The fun thought behind the 10 francs Jiminez débacle and its succession by your coin is that after the French revolution, the organisation of society went from birth-based to merit-based, but in a Confucian way: elite schools produced a technocrat aristocracy that still rules by the exams taken and those exams are (still) dominated by rote learning and old discussion and writing techniques, not problem solving or efficient communication, somewhat like the "public schools" in the UK. The elite sticks together, leaving no place for experience, unless it is underpinned by exams. Their arrogance removes them from reality as they stick to a perceived truth formed among themselves. There is no doubt that the decisions on the flopped Jimenez type were taken by these meritocrats. This was a source of amusement at the time. Your coin would be a vivid reminder to the average Frenchmen of the fallibility of the elite that ruled them.

Peter
An unidentified coin is a piece of metal. An identified coin is a piece of history.

Offline gpimper

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Re: 10 RF
« Reply #2 on: November 28, 2019, 06:28:57 AM »
Peter, a great reply.  I've seen her...very beautiful.  Love me some France  8)
The Chief...aka Greg

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Re: 10 RF
« Reply #3 on: November 28, 2019, 12:14:30 PM »
A nice design by former chief engraver of Monnaie de Paris, Jean-Luc Maréchal. There is a special Facebook group about this coin led by its designer with 450 members.