Between 1965 and 1973 France issued a 10 Francs coin in silver. But the precious metal became too expensive and the French authorities finally merged it into a 50 Francs coin (see Hercules types). Still, a new 10 Francs denomination coin was needed and in 1974 was replaced with a smaller coin of base metal composition. The new coin was designed by the engraver G. Mathieu, and its issue in 1974 coincided with new presidential elections.
This coin is acknowledged by French collectors, to be a numismatic translation of a change of concerns in the country, now turned more towards modernity than tradition, with a contemporary design representing energy and technology.
The obverse design features a stylized map of France beaming with energy and with the cursive intertwined letters RF (for République Française // French Republic in English). This motto is repeated on the outer periphery.
The reverse design features the denomination "10 Francs" in the foreground ; behind it, a representation of an industrial or building site.
The coin edge is engraved with the motto "Liberté, Egalité, Fraternité" // in English "Liberty, Equality, Brotherhood". The orientation of engraving may change (up or down, known as Edge A and Edge B), but with no significant influence on prices.
General Market Notes
Although not the rarest years in terms of mintage, the keys to the series are the 1983 and 1985 issues. In spite of a numerous official mintage, the 1985 issue is hard to find, probably less than 1 million coins went to circulation, the rest was most probably destroyed, in provision of a new coin. There were problems and hesitations with that planned coinage, and therefore the authorities had to strike a supplement of "Mathieus" in 1987.
The Semi-keys are the 1981 and 1982 issues, the lowest official mintages of the series. There are no Proof issues, but many Pieforts (thicker planchet) issues, mostly in common metal or in silver. During its lifetime the 10 F Mathieu was counterfeited en masse, consequently there still remain plenty of fake coins - also researched and collected by some collectors… But for keys and semi-keys, buyers should be careful and buy preferably MS or UNC coins.