Chateau-Renard: New Meteorite Coin Landing Soon
A cool new coin is coming in September from the MCI Mint on behalf of African nation Burkina Faso that uses a meteorite that landed in France 175 years ago. The meteorite fell at Chateau-Renard in Montargis, which is near the Loiret Valley in France on June 12, 1841.
Meteorites mostly come from comets and asteroids, and since the majority of them are used by scientific labs to study the origins of the universe, those remaining pieces of meteorites that make their way into the marketplace are very rare and expensive. Meteorites are also millions of years old.
The current price of 1 gram of the Chateau-Renard chondrite meteorite runs around $300, so even a small fragment is worth a lot.
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This 1000 Franc denomination coin that is struck from 1 oz. of silver with an antique finish uses the fragment of the Chateau-Renard meteorite as part of its stunningly reverse attractive design that uses what is called photorealistic coloring. The meteorite is shown against a blue sky as it is about to land in Montargis with gorgeous architectural details of the surrounding buildings included.
The obverse features the national coat of arms of Burkina Faso.
Only 750 of these coins are being made, which is a small number for a coin of this type.
As readers of this column know, I am a big fan of coins about space and astronomy-related issues.
And as I have written here and in my bi-monthly feature in the magazine on world coins, these coins continue to have a loyal base of collectors, which is why they have tended to hold their value better than coins about many other subjects that may not have as wide appeal.
The coin comes with two certificates of authenticity, one for the coin and one for the meteorite fragment, and is housed in a wooden display box.
The coin’s authenticity and allure is enhanced by the fact that we know the story of how the meteorite was discovered.
The meteorite’s fall was published in the American Journal of Science and Arts, Volume 42, as reported in the New York Observer on August 14, 1841: “Galignani’s Messenger mentions that at a late session of the French Academy, a communication was received from M. Delavaux, stating that on the 12th of June, (1841,) between one and two o’clock in the afternoon, the sky being without a cloud, an explosion was heard at Chateau-Renard, in the department of Loiret, louder than several pieces of artillery firing together. He suspected that this must have proceeded from an aerolite; and ongoing to the spot where the noise had been loudest, found there the marks where the aerolite had struck the earth, as well as several fragments of such a body, lying about. Most of these fragments were small, but one weighed thirty pounds, and another six pounds.”
Burkina Faso is a landlocked country in West Africa surrounded by Benin, Togo, and four other countries. As a former French colony, its uses the CFA franc, which is the Central African Franc, a currency used by six countries in Africa that is guaranteed by the French Treasury.
In 2015 a 3-oz. silver coin was issued for Burkina Faso that depicted a solar eclipse.
The issue price of $159.90 for the new piece is certainly not cheap, but one must consider the cost of the meteorite as well as production and other costs. And don’t be surprised to see the price increase.