The previous 10 Francs Coin ("Mathieu" type, 1974-87) was counterfeited to such an extent, that the French financial authorities decided to replace it with a new bi-metallic coin, which was supposed to be more secure. In fact, this one too was counterfeited tremendously.
This modern Angel type should not be confused with previous Angel designs used on gold and silver coins from the 19th century and early 20th century. The new 10 Francs design is not a new interpretation of an existing design but an entirely new and unique design.
The Obverse represents the statue of an Angel (also called Spirit) carrying a torch, which stands at the top of the column Place de la Bastille, in Paris. It is cleary an allegory to Liberty (the original statue also carries a broken chain, missing on this design). The letters RF stand for République Française // in English : French Republic. The outer periphery (outer ring of the coin) is ornated with striped ribbons.
The Reverse is minimalist with the facial value in a network of stripes. On the outter periphery appears the motto "Liberté - Egalité - Fraternité" // in English "Liberty - Equality - Brotherhood".
The Edge is alternatively smooth and reeded.
Note: Krause World Coin Catalogs identifies the artist as "Atelier de la Monnaie Paris", that means the whole team of engravers of the workshop. Some modern French coins have such collective and/or anonymous designers. The privy mark (= signature) of the "Atelier de la Monnaie de Paris" is a tiny flower (here noticeable under the "R" on the obverse). With a magnifying glass, you can see that the "petals" of the flower are, in fact, made of the initials a g m m (for "Atelier de Gravure des Monnaies et Médailles" // Coin and Medal Engraving Workshop".
General Market Notes
Unlike Euro coins, French Francs were normally all struck in coin alignment (with head to foot sides). From time to time, special BU issues for collectors were issued in medal alignment (both sides in the same direction), which made them distinct from business circulation coins. Proof coins are also slightly different, with normal sides but a totally smooth edge. Those BU issues are semi-keys, except the 1993 one which is the key to the series together with the Proof issue of that same year.
Buyers should be especially careful with the years 1993 and 1994 :
- "normal" 1993 circulated coins, with sides head to foot and groups of reeds on the edge, are fake.
- 1994 coins are sometimes over-estimated, because once the key to the series, with a much lower mintage than the 10,000 known today. But the discovery, more than ten years later, of new authenticated rolls, made the prices collapse abruptly. As a point of comparison, a coin of 1994 should not be sold more than 20 % of the price of a 1993.