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Mint museum looks at money in all its glory

This month the Paris Mint, Monnaie de Paris, opens its new museum revealing the most valuable and most historic treasures of a collection dating back to 600BC.

Opening on September 30, the free museum will have 1,800 exhibits from archives of 140,000 coins, medals, sculptures and jewellery pieces revealing craftsmanship and fine metal­‑working from the earliest days of coinage.

At its heart is the Grand Monnayage, the room where coins were struck until 40 years ago, and which has returned to its original use with a dozen presses showing how metals are transformed into valuable coins with the stages of casting, striking and engraving.

One of the world’s oldest coins will be on show – the Créséide d’Or showing the heads of a lion and a bull that was struck for the fabled King Croesus of Lydia in about 550BC.

Head curator Dominique Antérion said the museum was a “walk through centuries of history” as the mint is France’s oldest business. It was created as a royal mint in 864 and moved to the present site on Quai de Conti in 1775.

The museum is a themed parcours with views into the workshops where the 150 staff work, he said: “We have created a place where you can see everything the mint has done and what it does now – and even the work at our site at Pessac in Gironde which makes 1.5billion coins a year.

“We show how we bring metal to life; how base metals are transformed into value whether gold, silver or platinum or less ‘noble’ metals like aluminium or zinc.”

He added: “Visitors should not miss the Rue Mouffetard cache of Louis XV coins but also the Créséide or the 16th century Japanese Oban d’or which has ink writing on gold.”

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