Michel Sapin: Minister of Finance with a soft spot for numismatics

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by Annika Backe

January 14, 2016 – Michel Sapin, 63, is a member of the Socialist Party of France (Parti Socialiste) and, in his capacity of Minister of Finance and Public Accounts since 2014, responsible for managing the country’s budget. Dealing with money, therefore, is his daily business. However, the connections reach much further: When he was 11 years old, Michel Sapin has become a keen hobby numismatist and coin collector.

Michael Sapin, French Minister of Finance and Public Accounts. Photograph: Ministère du Travail / https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/deed.en.

In an interview with the French radio station France Inter on October 23, 2015, the Minister of Finance said that he fostered a passion for coins for more than 50 years.

Responsible for this was a key experience in his youth: As a fifth-grader, he discovered ancient coins in a drawer in his grandfather’s apartment. He wanted to know more about their background and images but could not find any satisfactory answers in the books about Roman history. So he began to study the collections of the Cabinet des médailles at the Bibliothèque nationale. The foundation stone for his passion was laid, and at the age of only 12 years, Michel Sapin was accepted into the renowned Société française de Numismatique as one of the youngest members ever.

For a short period of time, Sapin contemplated studying Archeology but then opted for a political career. The son of a marketing expert studied literature in Paris before he went to the National School of Administration in Strasbourg. Member of the Parti Socialiste since 1975, Sapin then made a steep political career and, among other functions, was Member of the Council for the Monetary Policy Council at the Banque de France.

In the light of his love for coins and medals, the opening of the new Atelier Central d’Outillage et de Gravure of the national mint located at Paris in January 2015 was a special treat to him, as was the visit to the newly opened Dresden Coin Cabinet a few months later.

A coin Michel Sapin would love to call his own: gold stater of the Bactrian ruler Eucratides I (ca. 171-145 BC). From Kuenker Auction 270 (October 2, 2015) lot 8410.

The material housed in Dresden is something Michel Sapin’s private collection cannot compete with. However, with its 1,500 objects, his collection is impressive all the same. He is particularly interested in ancient coins, in the specimens minted during the time of Alexander the Great and the Diadochi. And just as almost every coin aficionado, Michel Sapin is always looking for new favorite items. If you currently plan to sell your Bactrian staters, you might soon count the French Minister of Finance among your customers…

The essential information for this news has been taken from an article written by Pierre Delacour, printed in Monnaie Magazine, no. 183 (janvier 2013). To order the publication, please click here.

Press releases of the French Government covering the most recent activities of Michel Sapin can be found here.

And for reading how Rainer Grund experienced the visit of the G7 Finance Ministers at his Dresden Coin Cabinet, please click here.