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The Euros of Monaco
Fantasy and reality by François Würz


This article is not intended to be the expression of an absolute and monolithic truth but rather the fruit of research and reflections linked to an observation of the "modern" numismatic market.

At the time of the changeover from the franc to the euro, the Principality of Monaco, which had signed agreements with France to mint its currency, saw its currency transformed like other small states (San Marino, the Vatican).

Since it had, and has, the right to mint only a limited quantity of cash linked to French production (it is the Monnaie de Paris which strikes), its production could not be significant.

A preliminary remark is necessary. The numismatic demand for Monegasque francs was limited until then. Collectors were known and listed. There had never been a rush for a new issue. The only coins that were the subject of a slightly greater search were those bearing the effigy of Princess Grace (demand linked to the Americans).

The peaks in demand were when a new coin was released, when it was distributed to Monegasques only. As soon as the coin became available to everyone, some time later, all this fell back.

It should be noted, as Mr Charlet (co-author of a very fine book on the coins of Monaco) points out, that this market was also limited to the "franc zone" (apart from gold coins, trials and piéforts).

The changeover to the euro has shaken up this landscape. It was no longer just the franc zone but the euro zone that became hungry for these 'rarities'. But no one at the outset realised the importance of this. It should be noted that any coin issued with a face value, even if it is a monogrammed medal, is deducted from the quota allocated to the Principality. The same applies to the B.U. (brilliant universal) and B.E. (beautiful event) (see below). If we add to this that issues can be ordered either by the Treasury or by the Palace (commemorative coins in general), we can better understand the low figures for circulation.

This "amalgam" between current coins, "monétiforme" medals, B.U, B.E, even leads to a deep confusion for the informed collector.

The trigger for the Monaco euro craze

The kit-starters or how to multiply up to 100 times 15, 924 euros in a plastic bag... Note: this phenomenon has been observed in all the small states and not only in Monaco.

At the time of the changeover to the euro, plastic bags containing the equivalent of 100 French francs were distributed. They were "wrapped" in a plastic that was supposed to be biodegradable and photosensitive so as not to pollute if it was thrown on the ground after opening. There was not much of a crowd to get them, even if they were quickly sold out. At first there was no great speculation, but then suddenly the 'short' caught fire and reached up to 100 times its face value! This crazy price has since collapsed as it was purely speculative.

Current euros

When the first euros were issued, availability was also easy. Every bank in the Principality received rolls of all types of coins. It was not unusual to receive change in Monegasque euros. Then, with the craze for "kits", hoarding began. A parallel market developed, fed by a number of bank cashiers who had understood the trick. It took management intervention to slow down (but never stop) this juicy traffic. The excesses were such that people were even "moved" within the Treasury following "outbursts". Of course, no written trace of this information will be found, as the Monegasque civil service, like everywhere else in the world, had the motto "no waves! ". The fact remains that, for example, none (or very few) of the 2007 1 euro coins (mintage 96,000) or the 2008 2 euro coins (mintage 240,000) were seen by the public in circulation. However, they were immediately available in Germany and Belgium (in large quantities)!

Although the Principality was singled out for criticism for a while, it is nevertheless a victim of its own success. Indeed, all attempts to remedy this "madness" have been in vain, until now. Ironically, the same high ranking European officials who are so critical of the Principality have themselves admitted that if they found a Monaco coin they would keep it!

These official sets have had less of a tendency to see their prices soar. Of course, if we compare them to their face value, there is a difference, but this is understandable because of the low circulation (once again linked to the Franco-Monegasque agreements). The clientele is different. More polite, they are more collectors than "pure" speculators (even if this possibility cannot be ruled out).

The Principality issued them in 2001 (print run 20,000), 2002 (print run 40,000), 2004 (print run 14,999), and a boxed set of 1c, 2c and 5c coins in 2005 (print run 35,000), 2006 (print run 11,180) and 2009 (print run 8,000). In 2003 the silver 10 euro (mintage 4000), 2007 the 2 euro "Princess Grace" in a set (mintage 20,000), the silver 5 euro (mintage 9,000).

Gold Euros

These commemorative coins were intended to be a continuation of the Latin unions and the 100F gold.

Rainier III: 20 euros 2002 mintage 3500, 100 euros 2003 mintage 1000, 10 euros 2005 mintage 3313.

Albert II: 20 euros 2008, issue 3000.

They were not all as successful as expected and we can currently see, for example, the price of the 2 euro Princess Grace (in metal) exceeding the price of the 20 euro Rainier III in gold, even though only 3500 were issued.


With the help of greed, it did not take long for counterfeit Monaco euros to appear on E-bay. Fake coins at first, distributed from Belgium and the Netherlands. The "quality" of the scam has improved since "monetized medals" are now offered that are similar in every way to euros, except that the euro sign is no longer affixed. Counterfeiters no longer risk being labelled as counterfeiters!

The most copied coin (given its current price) is still (by far) the 2 euro Princess Grace.

It is likely that new agreements at European level will soon be signed to reduce speculation and harmonise production with other countries.

Let's look on the bright side. The changeover to the euro has brought the passion for collecting to millions of people. Numismatics, until then a refuge for grey scholars, has been given a new lease of life. As a sign of the times, it is not uncommon to see entire stands at Numismatic Fairs dedicated to euros, when the traditional stands for antique coins tend to diminish or even disappear. This "monetary euromania" is a way for many Europeans to discover this Europe that is being built step by step. The public's interest is mainly focused on coins that are actually in circulation. Gold and silver coins, which were not legal tender, were relatively disdained despite the small quantities issued. The existence of high prices on some coins is not in itself a bad thing for the states. As long as they are sold by professionals who pay VAT!

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