Gustave Eiffel, best known for designing Paris’s iconic Eiffel Tower, was born on December 15, 1832, in Dijon, France. Following his education at Collège Sainte-Barbe and École Centrale des Arts et Manufactures, Eiffel became known as a talented and innovative engineer. He worked on a number of high-profile projects. He designed the dome for the Astronomical Observatory in Nice and assisted with the Statue of Liberty’s creation.
In 1884, in preparation for the 1889 Universal Exposition in France, Maurice Koechlin and Emile Nouguier came up with an outline for what would become the Eiffel Tower. Although Eiffel was initially disinterested, he eventually signed on to the project. Despite several roadblocks, the Eiffel Tower was completed in March 1889. After retiring from engineering, Eiffel studied meteorology and aerodynamics. He died on December 27, 1923, at the age of 91.
The Monnaie de Paris has issued coins that commemorate the centenary of Eiffel’s death. The common obverse features Eiffel’s portrait, made of rivets, in front of an arch of the Eiffel Tower. The reverse of the silver €25 shows some of Eiffel’s greatest works. These include the Eiffel Tower, the Statue of Liberty, the Garabit viaduct, the Maria Pia de Porto bridge, and an airplane he designed. The piece is the very first coin to incorporate an NFC (near-field communication) chip, located under a pad-printed resin depicting the top of the Paris landmark. When scanned with a mobile phone, the chip enables the owner of the coin to register for a personal digital certificate on blockchain and access exclusive archival content about Eiffel.
A version of this article appears in the December 2023 issue of The Numismatist (money.org).