Interview with Claude Fayette, important collector of French banknotes

February 12, 2015 - Claude Fayette, important collector of French banknotes and author of the book “Les billets de la Banque de France”, has accepted to grant cgb a few minutes to answer a few questions for the enjoyment of collectors. No need to organize a meeting: as a connected collector, Claude Fayette has answered all the questions online. cgb has given us the possibility to republish this originally French interview in English. How would you best define a collector?

Claude Fayette: First of all, a collector is somebody who is passionate and concerned about preserving a cultural heritage while taking incredible pleasure in finding rarities. Is there a difference between a young collector – as we all have been – and an adult collector?

Claude Fayette: A collector remains a child at heart forever in his quest of a wonderland and his pursuit of a discovery or of a rare item he’s been dreaming about, but adulthood helps him structure his passion and experience shapes him. Why did you decide to write "Les billets de la Banque de France"?

Claude Fayette: First because no such book existed, at least the way I imagined it as a numismatist, that is to say a book examining banknotes through their issue, their date, the number of specimens issued, etc., just as it is done with metallic coins. This is why paper numismatics is called billetophilie. I know that today, my book is the reference book for any collector, and I am now working on the next edition, which will be fully rearranged and published during 2015. Why did you choose to collect the banknotes of the Banque de France exclusively? What reasons urge you to collect?

Claude Fayette: Because I am French and curious about the history of my country, and because the banknotes of the Banque de France are witnesses of their times. The rare quality and exceptional artistic beauty of their iconography are reputed all around the world. Many reasons can urge somebody to collect. As far as I am concerned, I think I am a born collector. When I was only 11, I would already haunt flea markets, and then antique shops, until I opened my own galleries of canvas paintings in Paris. Banknotes were actually living underground in myself. One day, it became obvious to me: I had to write my first book in order to share my knowledge and widen and develop this collection for the highest number of people. Since then, it has kept me busy full-time, and it is true that the collection of the French banknotes of the Banque de France meets all my expectations. I never get tired of searching and searching again and sometimes, I feel like delight is at its height. Is the investment dimension important in your eyes?

Claude Fayette: I wouldn’t say it is important, yet it should be taken into account very seriously because our collection is very solid and because prices remain stable, and even rise very significantly. We are still far from the prices found in some other countries, but some records are established in France and obviously, when we deal with such price ranges, it is impossible not to take into account the investment, if not patrimonial significance which is at stake. You are selling now your collection. What guarantees does a collector have when buying a banknote of the "Collection Claude Fayette"?

Claude Fayette: Because I have always searched rare and fine items, collectors are surely guaranteed to buy authenticity and quality. What is more, each banknote comes with a certificate, a bit like a pedigree. A collector is always very mindful about the origin of the item he covets. As far as I am concerned, I can say without pretension that all the banknotes I put for sale come from a collection that is generally accepted as being exceptional. What is your vision for the future concerning the act of collecting banknotes? What is your opinion about the state of the market of French banknotes?

Claude Fayette: Considering our time, which is troubled in many ways, our collection is in good health. Collectors’ interest is still stirred-up by their dream of their quest and their hope for the discovery of such or such long-coveted banknote. Anyone can collect at his or her level. Difficult times often come with opportunities of good deals. The market is stable and shows progress on rare items, but collectors should bear in mind that today’s common banknotes, that are easy to find and affordable, may become rarities tomorrow. This is the strength of Billetophilie and, more generally speaking, of any collection. Today, part of your collection is for sale at How does a collector decide to scatter his collection?

Claude Fayette: At each step of your life, you have to makes choices and decisions. As it happens, I chose to sell my collection of specimens through a catalogue in order to leave a memory. This way, each banknote offered for sale will have a true identity because it belongs to a definite set of items. In my eyes, this sale is somewhat the transmission of the fifty hardworking years I spent collecting. I know my banknotes will live a new life and fulfill new passions. : Among all banknotes currently for sale, which one would you pick from your collection if you where to keep one only?

Claude Fayette: Surely one or two of the most exceptional ones, such as the 5 Francs or the 20 Francs "Bleu", which are even more extraordinary than the spécimen because of their annotation dated November 8th, 1905 with the signature of the General Secretary, Mr. E. Picard. They are both unique and prestigious. One should keep in mind that many of the items offered for sale are unobtainable and have never been put on the market, such as the 20 Francs "Noir", the watermarked “one-sided” 50 Francs "LOM" 1913, the 100 Francs "Bleu" 1894 or the 100 Francs "LOM". It would be too long to list all the banknotes of the catalogue, which also include those of the 19th century. This being said, I would keep them all if I could. But kids have to grow up and one day, they must leave their home with their remembrance of the past time.

CoinsWeekly already reported about the cgb auction of French banknotes from the Claude Fayette Collection.

To go to the website of cgb please click here.

The book “Les billets de la Banque de France” written by Claude Fayette and Jean-Claude Trichet you can buy on Amazon.

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