After more than a thousand years of service, the Paris mint has thrown its doors open to the public with a vast exhibition of treasures, collectors’ coins and a view of the craftsmen in their workshops.
On the banks of the River Seine, workers chisel, press and engrave medals and memorabilia in the factory that advertises itself as the oldest in the French capital, with a history stretching back to the year 864.
Since the introduction of the euro in 2002, the mint - or the ‘Monnaie de Paris’ - has passed industrial-scale production of everyday coinage to a plant in the southwestern town of Pessac.
Its workforce, about 150-strong, is now counting on collectors, the curious and tourists to give it a longer lease of life.
“Here we mint coins which still have a value,” the mint’s chief executive, Aurelien Rousseau, said. “But it is indeed more often collectors who are interested in these products.”
Displays include ancient treasure chests, a coin dating back more than 2,000 years and the platinum meter measure that remains the international reference of the metric system.
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