On November 27, the Monnaie de Paris launched their latest coins in the very popular and contemporary series entitled “The 7 Arts,” which encompasses seven media of artistic expression. This set of coins, the fourth in a seven-year series, is dedicated to cinema. In this category the coins feature famed actor and director Jean Gabin (1904–1976), renowned the world over for such works as La Grande Illusion and Gueule d’Amour.
Jean-Alexis-Gabin Moncorgé was born in Paris in 1904 into a family already involved in the arts, since his father was an actor and his mother a singer. Due to the travels and obligations of his parents, Jean was raised in the countryside by his mother’s older sister. At 18, he entered the world of show business when he appeared onstage at the Folies Bergères just before his obligatory military service. It was in 1928 that he found his niche in the world of cinematography when he took his first steps in front of the camera. He appeared in famous French films films such as La Grande Illusion, Gueule d’Amour with Mireille Balin (1937), Le Quai des Brumes with Michèle Morgan, La Bête Humaine (1938), and Le Jour se Lève (1939).
In September 1939, Gabin, like many other young men in France’s military reserves, was mobilized as a result of war with the Third Reich and Hitler. Gabin found himself in an unenviable situation when, in February 1941, after demobilization and under the Nazi occupation of Paris, he refused to take part in cinema production for the occupying forces. He left the country for the United States, where he was able to take part in the production of two films. In 1943, Gabin enlisted in the Forces Françaises Libres and was presented with the Médaille Militaire and the Croix de Guerre for his military contribution.
Gabin was able to direct many films before he passed away in 1976. He is also remembered for his collaborations with notables such as Michel Audiard, Louis de Funès, Bourvil, Jean-Paul Belmondo, and Alain Delon. He had the distinction of being among some of those French actors who have attracted the largest number of viewers in cinemas, which is recorded at about 161 million cinemagoers between 1946 and 1976. This coin is also being issued as recognition of the 40th anniversary of the death of Gabin.
The coins, one gold version and one silver, are designed by fashion icon Christian Lacroix. The obverse depictions Jean Gabin in profile against a background composedof film tape, representing the fourth art, cinema. The text includes Gabin’s name and the face value.
The reverse depicts a steam locomotive in the foreground and, in the background, the Paris-Saint-Lazare Station—the famous place where part of the movie La Bête Humaine takes place. The Pacific 231 steam locomotive is the Lison, driven by Gabin’s character, Jacques Lantier, in the film. At upper right are the year 2016 and the inscription of the fourth art, Le Cinéma.
|€10||.900 silver||22.2 g||37 mm||Proof||5,000|
|€50||.920 gold||8.45 g||22 mm||Proof||500|
The coins are available from December 5 as separate purchases. Each is presented in a branded MdP custom case with certificate of authenticity. For more information on this and other coins offered by the Monnaie de Paris, please visit their website.
Since 2010, Christian Lacroix has served as the artistic advisor to the Monnaie de Paris. He has designed the coin series featuring French kings and heads of state as well as the “7 Arts” series. He was also part of the stage design of an exhibition in Bordeaux, co-organized by Monnaie de Paris and the Museum for Decorative Arts in Bordeaux in 2013. From the first coin in this series, Mr. Lacroix created a pattern for each side of the coin: on the obverse, a drawing of the artist’s face, over a texturized background, with the artist’s name and the face value. On the reverse, a mixture of various symbols of the year’s theme, the year date, the mintmarks, and the name of the celebrated art. ❑