Monnaie de Paris was founded by Charles the Bald in 864 and included within the Edict of Pistres, making it France's oldest institution. For 1,150 years, it has been responsible for the sovereign function of minting coins. It has moved several times before relocating to Paris’ left bank, at 11, quai de Conti. The building was designed to welcome the Mint of Paris, the building was built by Jacques-Denis Antoine during the reign of Louis XV (1715-1774) and inaugurated on 20 December 1775.
The building was commissioned by the king, yet the plans had the different rooms, rather than being traditionally organized around the chapel, distributed around the "Salle du Grand Monnayage" (Minting Room), the heart of the institution, where coins are struck. Its industrial origins have been preserved to the present day and the Monnaie de Paris remains the last functioning factory in the heart of Paris.
The central arcade of the avant-corps is dominated by a monumental door which includes Louis XV's emblem and a door knocker with a lion's head. The tympanum is decorated with a sculpture by Jean-Denis Antoine, the architect's brother, of Mercury, god of commerce, and Ceres, goddess of earthly wealth.
This staircase is covered with a pierced cupola, decorated with window-dressing caissons. It leads to the first floor, the piano nobile. The gallery around the staircase presents many decorative elements. Above doors and windows, bas-reliefs by Jean-Denis Antoine represent sitting women, the Chemistry and the Wealth, surrounded by cherubs.
From Philippe August's reign (1180-1223) and to a greater degree during Saint-Louis' reign (1226-1270), the royal coins became more prevalent than those used in feudal zones. This restrained the influence of local lords . Even though many local currencies disappeared, a few minting factories keep functioning until the 18th Century. During the Ancien Regime, the minting factories were funded by a contract between the King and the merchant. The King would loan the building to the merchant and sets up the production whereas the merchant was responsible for finding the metal and running the minting process.
Au dessus de chacune des portes latérales de la salle Dupré, des médaillons donnent à voir les initiales de trois contrôleurs généraux et d’un intendant des finances, ici Monsieur de Fleury; ailleurs, Messieurs de L’Averdy, de La Boulaye et d’Ormesson. De part et d’autre des médaillons, des petits génies ailés s’adonnent à des opérations chimiques, rappelant l’usage que Balthazar-Georges Sage fit de cette salle.
A monumental canvas across the ceiling by the History painter Jean-Joseph Weerts (1847-1927) replaced the original fake sky in 1893. This painting represents the Pont d'Iéna and the Palais des Beaux Arts of the Universal Exhibition in 1889, while in the sky, female allegories of Peace and Commerce spread the gold rains of Fortune over a scene of jubilation. With this work, Jean-Jospeh Weerts illustrates the triumph of the Universal Exhibition of 1889 and symbolising for the moral recovery of France after the defeat in 1870.
Jacques-Denis Antoine conceived a complex composing of a main structure situated on the banks of the Seine and a factory at the back, with a total area of 35 000 square meters. The main courtyard, or Cour d'Honneur, represents a transition between the rooms along the river and the factory workshops. At the end of the courtyard, a four columns portico marks the entrance of the "Grand Monnayage" (Minting Room), the historical place of minting.