In keeping with a program to introduce precious metals into circulating coinage, France issued new "Hercules" type coins in 2011 and 2012 with a composition of gold and silver and in the denominations of 5000, 1000, 100 and 10 Euro. The 10 Euro coin is the most common facial value of these new Hercules. Although it was theoretically intended for circulation and has legal tender in France (but not in other countries of the Euro zone), it is widely hoarded. It was struck in Uncirculated and Proof finishes, with a proportion of only 50 % silver.
First used in 1795/96, the Hercules design was originally created by Augustin Dupré and reused on various denominations throughout French coinage history while undergoing only minor design changes during this time. What makes the 2012 10 Euro design unique is that the French artist/engraver had taken a classic art style and merged it with a contemporary style resulting in a new stylized design. Modifying a classic and popular design was significant risk on the Mint's part as collectors typically despise major changes to their favorite designs. But fortunately the gamble paid off as the design and coin proved popular and quickly sold.
The obverse design features a modified version of Dupré's Hercules (a popular artistic figure in France) protecting two women who symbolically represent “Liberty” and “Equality”. The design was last used on 5 Francs commemorative coinage from 1996. The major design changes included the removal of the phrygian cap & pole held by Liberty with the cap now located on her head. The stripes in the background are a heraldic representation of the French flag : blue, white, red).
The reverse design features a wreath arranged horizontally and figuring the sign Euro €, with the words "République Française" or in English "French Republic" arranged as well. On the outer periphery, three hexagons (this geometrical shape referring to the French territory), arranged as a sun or a flower.
The coin edge is smooth.
General Market Notes
Theoretically intended for circulation, they were more akin to specialized non-circulation legal tender commemorative coin programs used in other countries where all the coins ended up in the hands of collectors, coin and specialty shops. Issued in both uncirculated & proof finishes all coins should be readily available to collectors although some of the uncirculated issues may show very small strikes or hairlines, due to fabrication and packaging.