Michel Prieur (1955-2014)

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by Ursula Kampmann

March 27, 2014 – On March 18, 2014 French coin dealer and numismatist Michel Prieur died. He was one of the most active and dedicated characters of numismatic Paris.

Michel Prieur was born on September 2, 1955 in Neuilly-sur-Seine, a small town not far away from Paris. He grew up in Africa and the Middle East. However, the numismatic public does not know much about his life before he founded his company Compagnie Générale de Bourse, CGB, in 1988.

He became known worldwide through his extensive website cgb.fr which was of such an importance to him that he changed the name of his company from Compagnie Générale de Bourse to cgb.fr. Michel Prieur was a pioneer of the internet who understood its implications at an early stage. In particular, borders between countries lost their meaning and this has changed the French coin market being a kind of isolated before deeply. Michel loved his internet site. February 26 this year he wrote to CoinsWeekly how proud he was of his website being not only available in French, English, Italian and German but also in Russian and Chinese. He raved of the funny look of his website featuring all these Chinese and Cyrillic characters.

Today, his website features some 350,000 pages with a shop, e-auctions, a comprehensive archive and a blog. Monthly the digital Bulletin numismatique offers news from the numismatic world. Currently cgb.fr employs 25 people who feel deeply obliged to their patron and his commitment to numismatics.

Michel Prieur was a great author. With the corpus of Syrian-Phoenician tetradrachms – written together with Karin Prieur – he has given us a reference book that will be quoted over the next decades in the auction catalogues. He developed the concept of ‘Le Franc’, a catalogue that can compete with the American ‘Red Books’ as for abundance of information. In 2014 the 10th edition of ‘Le Franc’ was published.

Michel Prieur was really zealous when it came to numismatics. As it often happens with uncompromising enthusiasts he had his very firm opinion and he stepped in for it even at the cost of hurting other people. He was not undisputed and it was not in him to soften hardened fronts and to make friends among his opponents.

But as soon as he got the impression that someone else was also promoting numismatics, there was none more helpful than he was. When we announced our promotion campaign ‘I read CoinsWeekly’ on January 24, 2013 it took him less than ten minutes to sent his photo by email offering it readily for promotion. He wrote: ‘I would be so glad if your initiative encouraged other countries and specialists to publish periodicals of their own – for free! Numismatics needs so urgently communication, numismatics needs publications! PDF and ADSL open up so many possibilities! I hope that others will copy this!’

Who would have thought that the very picture he sent to us then was to serve for his obituary only one year later. Michel Prieur died much to early aged 59. No matter what one’s opinion is of Michel Prieur, one must recognise that after his death a very important and committed advocate of French numismatics will be missed. We are confident that his team will continue his work according to his ideas!

The burial service will take place on March 28, 2014 at 10 am in the Eglise de Saint-Nicolas-du-Chardonnet, 23, rue des Bernadins, Paris.