Museum of Medals and Coins in Paris

Museums and Galleries

The House of Medals and Coins is located in one of the old buildings of the French National Library on the rue Richelieu. It is the oldest museum in France. Its exposition numbers almost 500 thousand coins, the rarest jewelry and jewelry, as well as medals, as ancient coins in the collection have long been called.

From the history of creation

King Charles 9 introduced the position of custodian of coins and medals, which was caused by the need to preserve valuables in the turbulent times of the devastating religious wars. Each reigning monarch in the future necessarily replenished the collection with jewelry, medals, and, of course, coins. The French collection of coins at that time was considered the richest in Europe.

The most significant additions were made by Louis XIV, who moved valuables from the old royal library to Versailles. For all the years of its history, the collection has never been broken into pieces, constantly replenished, and has gone from the personal collection of the king to the national treasure.

Medal cabinet

The treasury of the museum was significantly replenished in 1765. Archaeologist and art historian Count Kelyus bequeathed his collection of antiquities to the museum. A little later, with the abolition of royal power, more artifacts from the pre-Christian era were brought to the museum.

Cabinet of medals4

In the middle of the nineteenth century in Gourdon, a small French town, a treasure of the 5th-6th century was discovered. This collection of almost a hundred old coins and gold jewelry enriched the museum's collection. A decade after that, the exposition was replenished with Greek coins from the collection of the favorite of Louis 13 - the Duke of Luyin.

The most amazing exhibits

Currently, the House of Medals and Coins houses unique exhibits that are the property of not only French, but also world culture. These are the cameo, the largest in the world, dating back to the 1st century AD, the Khosrau Cup of gold and crystal (6th century), the Ptolemaic Cup made of sardonyx (1st century BC).

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Cabinet of medals3

One of the most significant sights of the museum is the golden stater of the king of Bactria, Eucratides I, with a diameter of 58 mm and a weight of 170 g. This exhibit is the largest coin minted in antiquity. The numismatic house bought it for 30000 francs, which was equal to the price of almost 9 kg of gold at the time. The pride of the museum's exposition is the dish of King Khosrov (the so-called dish of Solomon).

Museum today

Once upon a time there was a mint on the site of the museum, coins have not been made in large quantities for a long time, but even now jubilee samples and standards are minted here by order of the Chamber of Weights and Measures. In the courtyard of the museum there is one of the standards - a pyramid - the mark of the Paris meridian, established by the Paris Observatory.

The museum's exposition now contains coins and medals from all periods of French history - from antiquity to the present. The library, part of which is occupied by the museum, contains unique documents associated with the name of Napoleon Bonaparte: the print edition of Napoleon and His Slanderers in 1887, a print showing the transfer of Bonaparte's ashes to the House of Invalids in December 1840 and a number of other documents.

Cabinet of medals5

The treasures of Saint-Denis and Sainte-Chapelle are stored in the House of Coins and Medals, here you can see paintings, sculptures and engravings, ancient machines on which coins were minted. If desired, museum visitors can watch the amazing process of minting coins and medals from precious metals. This can be done on Wednesdays and Mondays from 14.00 to 15.00.

The House of Coins and Medals is also called the Cabinet of Medals. This is the unofficial name for the Department of Coins, Medals and Antiquities of the National Library of France. The entrance for visitors to the museum is free. The Medal Cabinet is one of the most visited attractions in Paris. Here you can feel the connection of times, visiting the museum exposition, you can feel the transience of time and admire the amazing monuments of antiquity.

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Getting there

Address: 5 Rue Vivienne, Paris 75002

Phone: + 33 1 53 79 89 47
Metro: Bourse, Quatre-Septembre, Pyramides
Hours: 10: 00-18: 00

Ticket prices

  • Adult: free
  • Child: free