Armenia: New Gold Coins Honouring International Entertainer Charles Aznavour’s 100th Anniversary Of Birth

The Central Bank of Armenia have released new gold proof coins honouring French-Armenian entertainer Charles Aznavour.

by Michael Alexander | Published on June 10, 2024

Aznavour’s work is a unique interweaving of poetry, music, and acting. Often described as "the French Frank Sinatra" Aznavour would go on to sell more than 200 million recordings during his near-seven decade long career, having received around sixty gold and platinum records around the world. Regarded as one of the greatest songwriters of all time and an icon of 20th-century pop culture, Aznavour is proudly claimed as a national treasure by both France, his country of birth and Armenia, his country of ancestry. Born as Shahnour Vaghinag Aznavourian on the 22nd May 1924 in Paris, his parents immigrated to France the year before having escaped the 1917 Armenian Genocide in Eastern Anatolia, part of present-day Turkey. As the only son in the family, he worked in the family restaurant until he discovered a liking for performing. At the age of just nine years, the young Shahnour changed his name to Charles and shortened his surname to Aznavour, a name he would keep permanently. Leaving school at an early age, Charles went on to pursue music and singing as well as dance. By the time he was in his teens, he was already performing at Night Clubs and on stage and composing songs which together with his collaborative partnership with actor Pierre Roche, went on to great international success. It was when Aznavour opened for renowned singer Edith Piaf that she advised him to continue a career in singing, helping him develop a distinctive voice that suited his style and songs. It was in 1956 that he gained universal recognition after performing at the Olympia concert hall in Paris. During his musical career, Aznavour would go on to write and co-write more than 1000 songs and recorded close to 1400 songs in various languages. Among the songs he recorded were several in the Armenian language, endearing him to his ancestral homeland. As well as having become an internationally renowned singer, Aznavour starred in more than 90 films and authored a number of books.

After the devastating Armenian earthquake of 1988, Aznavour founded the Aznavour for Armenia association, and, in 2016, together with his son Nicolas, they created the Aznavour Foundation with the goal of implementing educational, social, and cultural programs. In recognition of his humanitarian efforts to his family’s homeland, Aznavour was granted Armenian citizenship as well as receiving the National Hero of Armenia accolade, the country’s highest title civilian order. Aznavour was also honoured in his country of birth with the Legion of Honour order for the years 1997, 2001 and 2004. Since Aznavour was also a resident of Switzerland, in 2009, the Republic of Armenia appointed him as an ambassador of Armenia to Switzerland and later as Armenia's permanent delegate to the United Nations at Geneva.

Remarkably, Aznavour continued his international performing tours in many cities around the world between 2014 and 2018. However, on the 19 September 2018, his last concert took place in the NHK Hall of Osaka, Japan. On the 1st October 2018, Aznavour died at his home at Mouriès, France at the age of 94. The decision on a national level was made to accord him with a state funeral, which took place on the 5th October in Paris and in the presence of French President Macron and also the President of Armenia, Armen Sarkissian. Charles Aznavour was interred in the family crypt at the Montfort-l'Amaury cemetery. As tribute to his life and accomplishments, a public Square in Yerevan is named in his honour. Before his death in August 2017 and at the age 93, he was awarded a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. In the city of Gyumri which sustained a significant amount of damage during the 1988 earthquake, a monument and statue is dedicated to Aznavour and his tireless humanitarian efforts.

The gold proof quality coins are produced by Mint of Poland at their facilities in Warsaw and on behalf of the Central Bank of Armenia. The portrait of Charles Aznavour on the obverse side is based on a publicity photograph taken during the mid-1960’s by eminent photographer Roger Kasparian (1938 – 2023) together with a vintage microphone. To the right of the portrait is text Charles Aznavour in both Western and Armenian lettering. Separating the text is a stylised insignia representing the numeral 100 formed from musical notes. The reverse side includes an illustration of the monument dedicated to Charles Aznavour in Gyumri along with the text REPUBLIC OF ARMENIA shown in both Western and Armenian lettering. The coin’s denomination 10,000 դրամ (Dram) is positioned to the left of the depiction of the monument. The year of issue 2024 is placed on the right side.

DenominationMetalWeightDimensionsQualityMaximum Mintage
10,000 Dram.999 Gold8.6 g.22 mm.Proof500

Each proof coin is encapsulated and presented in a custom branded case accompanied with a certificate of authenticity. For additional information about collector coins from Armenia’s Central Bank, please visit their numismatic webpage. A proof quality silver 1000 Dram coin and a range of uncirculated gold and silver bullion coins are expected to follow this gold coin later in the year.

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Author: Michael Alexander

Michael Alexander image Michael’s background in both numismatics and banknotes spans more than three decades and whose activities have varied from being a dedicated world coin collector to coin & medal design, marketing, theme concept and production. His additional interests include banknote research and in 1997, he founded the London Banknote and Monetary Research Centre to further these interests and activities. The company continues to offer monthly currency bulletins to both online and printed publications which includes information about the latest banknote news and releases from Central Banks and Monetary Authorities around the world. Michael has been a contributor to COIN NEWS magazine based in the UK since 1998 where many of his in-depth interviews, articles and bulletins have been published.

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