French Mint's World War I series begins with coins for legendary defense of Paris

Four coins honor taxi drivers' role in Battle of Marne
By , Coin World
Published : 10/14/14
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Four new Proof coins from the Monnaie de Paris (the French Mint) commemorate a legend born during World War I.

The French Mint has issued a .900 fine silver €10, .920 fine gold €50, .950 fine silver €50 and .999 fine gold €200 coin, which are the first issues in a series honoring the centennial of World War I.

The coins celebrate the legend of the taxicab drivers whose efforts helped save Paris from destruction by Germany. 

As the Germans reached some 30 miles outside of Paris, and engaged French troops in what came to be known as the Battle of the Marne, several hundred taxicabs were enlisted to ferry French fighters to the front, serving as the decisive kindling in the congflagration, according to the legend. 

The reality is more tempered. The soldiers that took that trip were important but not instrumental, argues John Hanc, writing at Smithsonian.com, in an article published July 24, 2014. 

By the morning of Sept. 8, 1914, the taxis had taken some 5,000 men to battle. 

“But 5,000 men mattered little in a battle involving more than one million combatants. And as it turned out, most of the troops carried by taxi were held in reserve,” wrote Hanc.

The four coins share similar obverse and reverse designs related to the legend. 

The obverse shows men setting off for the war front, with a mobilization poster in the background. The back of a taxicab evokes the departure for the Battle of the Marne. A poppy and a cornflower at the bottom of the coins are the respective symbols of the Commonwealth’s and France’s veterans. 

The reverse shows the arrival of troops in the Marne, as depicted by the front of the taxicab and marching soldiers.

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