Garys Coin of the Month (Volume 2 Number 5) for January 2013 features an NGC PFUC-68 French 100 franc coin (KM#1096) commemorating the 100th anniversary of cinema and the actress, Audrey Hepburn.
Knowing that my daughter is a fan of Audrey Hepburn, I gave her a boxed set of three Audrey Hepburn movies in 2005 for Christmas. The titles of those movies were Roman Holiday, Breakfast at Tiffanys, and Sabrina. Of those three movies, Audrey Hepburn went on to win an Academy Award for best actress for her role as Princess Anne in the movie Roman Holiday. Furthermore, she also received best actress nominations for her roles in Breakfast at Tiffanys and Sabrina.
A few years later, I discovered that France issued a series 100 franc coins minted in silver and gold commemorating the centennial of cinematic motion pictures. To my surprise, I found that one of those coins featured a bust of Audrey Hepburn on its reverse. Therefore, due to my daughters fondness of Audrey Hepburn, I began a search for the silver version of the coin.
After months of searching, I finally found one by way of a direct sale. That coin with a silver fineness of .9000, weighs 22.2 grams, has an ASW (actual silver weight) of .6423 ounces, and is 37 mm in diameter. The mintage of this proof-only coin is 15,000. The central device on the obverse of the coin is an antique movie camera. The French motto inscribed around the rim from 8:00 to 2:00 is translated, Liberty, Equality, and Fraternity. On the right hemisphere of the obverse are the initials RF representing the Republic of France, the denomination of the coin at 100 Francs, and the year 1995. Below the date are two small privy marks. The Cornucopia denotes that the coin is a product of the Paris Mint, and the Bee identifies Pierre Rodier as the engraver general. The central device on the reverse is a head 3/4 left bust of Audrey Hepburn. Inscribed along the upper rim of the obverse is the translated phrase, Centenary of the Cinema.
I have always been amazed by the inventions of the 19th century that have transformed into multi-billion dollar industries today. One of those multi-billion dollar industries of course is the motion picture industry. Much of the credit for this burgeoning industry today should go to its founders Auguste and Louis Lumiere. For it was on December 28, 1895 in the basement of the Salon Indien du Grand Cafe in Paris, France that the Lumiere Brothers brought to screen the first motion pictures to a paying audience. The next time you go to the movies, consider this:
1. The first movie screen was 9 feet wide by 6 feet high.
2. The very first moviegoers paid one franc (about 20 cents by todays standards) for admission, which was a goodly amount of money in its day. In this regard, it appears that not much has changed since 1895 since it still costs a goodly sum to go to the movies today!
3. The very first paid audience was treated to 10 silent films, none of which was longer than a minute.
4. Only 33 people attended the debut of motion picture history!
One of the persons in attendance that day was a magician by the name of Georges Melies who later wrote, we sat there with our mouths open, awe-struck, and beyond words. Interestingly, Melies himself went on to produce motion pictures of his own. Of note, he produced the iconic 1902 humorous fantasy, A Trip to the Moon. Of note for all you science fiction fans including myself, A Trip to the Moon is the first known science fiction film.
Another thing that amazes me is how someone can take a dreadful childhood and use it to help others. In Audrey Hepburns case, she used her painful experiences as a child to bless untold numbers of people worldwide.
Audrey Hepburn was born Audrey Kathleen Ruston on May 4, 1929 to a British father and a Dutch mother in Ixelles, Belgium. After her parents separated, Audreys mother moved her to Arnhem, Netherlands in 1935.
From 1939 to 1945, Audrey Hepburn attended the Arnhem Conservatory where among other things she studied ballet. Audrey loved ballet dancing, but it was thought that due to her physical maladies brought on by malnutrition during her teenage years that she would not excel in it. The mistreatment and starving of the Dutch people during the Nazi occupation of the Netherlands would have a profound effect on the rest of Audrey Hepburns life.
Not dissuaded by lifes disappointments, Audrey tenaciously pursued a career in modeling. From there she used her experience in dancing to compete and win one of ten spots in a chorus line from among 4000 dancers. Shortly thereafter, she beat out Elizabeth Taylor for a starring role in Roman Holiday for which she subsequently won an Academy Award. The rest, as they say, is the stuff dreams are made of as Audrey Hepburn went on to be a successful actress.
There is yet another aspect of Audrey Hepburns life that continued almost unnoticed by the public and unknown by me until I got interested in her coin. Influenced by her childhood, Audrey was an advocate for the long-term humanitarian and developmental assistance to mothers and children in developing countries. Working through UNICEF (The United Nations Childrens Fund) Audrey was appointed UNICEFs goodwill ambassador in 1989. In 1992, Audrey was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in recognition of her humanitarian work through UNICEF. Audrey Hepburn died at the age of 63 on January 20, 1993. However, as a legacy Audrey Hepburns humanitarian work continues through the Audrey Hepburn Childrens Fund, first chaired by her eldest son and currently now by her younger son.
In summary, it is not because of my daughters love of Audrey Hepburn that this coin resides in my Inspirational Ladies custom set. Nor is it as much about Audrey Hepburns successful movie career. Rather, I have included her coin in my set primarily because of Audrey Hepburns determination to overcome adversity, and then use her status as a famous actress to help people less fortunate than herself. Now until next month, happy collecting!
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