Henry-Auguste Patey, chief engraver of the Paris mint, designed this coin in 1903. The French 25 centimes’ minted in 1904 and 1905 feature this design, but no other years. In 1909 the French minted a new design; these coins are increasingly rare. The populace generally disapproved of this coin’s composition and similarity to the 1 Franc coin at the time, despite the original and beautiful design.
During 1904 the French, British, and Russian leaders signed the Entente Cordiale, an agreement of nations designed to oppose the Triple Allegiance of Germany, Austria, and Italy. In the following year France passed a law to separate the powers of Church and State which led to greater fiscal stability as the government no longer financially supported the church. On the whole, French quality of life in the first decade of the 20th century improved.
France was the birthplace of the Art Nouveau movement and you can see its influence in Patey’s coin design. The obverse features the personification of the Republic, Marianne, armored and crowned. Symbolically she carries the Axe and Branches, displayed on the reverse. The bundled branches symbolize the states power of corporal punishment, and the axe symbolizes the power of the people to remove their leaders by beheading. Interestingly, if the branches stay bundled, so too, does the axe.
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