Louis XIV discovered this hobby when he was a child, thanks to Jean Warin (1607-1672), a die engraver who was head of Paris mint and engraved the official busts of Louis XIII and young Louis XIV struck on gold and silver coins. On this picture painted by an anonymous artist in 1645 (with later additions), Jean Warin is teaching ancient history to the young Louis XIV, aged 7, using coins and medals. Show and tell method. The little kid was fascinated and later became a passionate collector. (Musée de la Monnaie, Paris) He was actually a promising child. Two years before, when only 5, he was called by his father Louis XIII on his deathbed. The dying king asked him: "Do you know who you are?" and the kid answered: "Yes, I am Louis XIV !" The king replied: "Not yet, my son, not yet..." The silver medal Warin is showing represents a Greek helmeted bust with the legend ΑΛΚΙΒΙΑΔΗΣ: Alcibiades, the famous Athenian 5th c. BC statesman. It was not at all an ancient coin, but a Renaissance medal from Italy, this one: (Not my coin...) In the 17th c. collectors often mixed authentic ancient coins with modern medals looking like ancient coins, things we could today call fakes but were considered worthy of interest because they completed series. Since no ancient coin with the portrait of Alcibiades existed, such a medal was considered OK for a collection of famous historical figures of Antiquity. The well-known 16th c. Paduan bronzes helped complete series: a collection of large bronzes of the 12 Caesars could gather 11 of them but not Otho, so a Paduan "sestertius" of Otho could complete the series. Such were the collecting standards of the time. A later painter who signed "F. Marius" added a frame to this double portrait, adorned with silver coins and medals: a silver medal of Louis XIV (bust engraved by Warin), another one of Henri IV dated 1604 (engraved by Philippe Danfrie, a predecessor of Warin as head of the Paris mint), and ancient silver coins (or Renaissance medals?): in the top right corner what seems to be a silver miliarense of Constantine, on the bottom right a denarius with a portrait of Julius Caesar. I don't see what the two others on the left side can be. Louis XIV's collection would considerably expand during his reign. When he grew older and was in charge as king, he gave ambassadors, consuls and merchants orders of systematically buy for him all gems, works of art, manuscripts, etc. they could find in Orient, and especially ancient coins, with an almost unlimited budget! He also acquired entire collections in France and Europe and added them to his own. Other heads of state knew what kind of diplomatic gifts would delight him, and sometimes presented him precious coins and antiques to secure an alliance with France. For example, the Holy Roman Emperor Leopold I offered him the treasure found in the Frankish king Childeric I's tomb. All this was first housed in the Louvre (the royal palace in Paris) and he appointed curators to manage his collection. He later had it moved to Versailles and would often spend some time in his cabinet examining coins and talking with the curators. This collection was the king's private hobby, but in the same time could be considered a state possession: didn't Louis XIV say "L'État, cest moi"? After the king's death in 1715 his successors were not so much interested in ancient coins and the collection was repatriated in Paris to the Royal Library, where it is still today. Louis XIV's collection, started when still a child thanks to Jean Warin's good advice, is the core of the BNF collection of today. A last funny thing. I have been working lately with a young student, a teenager, whose name is Warin. I asked her if she was a relative of Jean Warin the engraver - I did not expect her to know him and was very surprised to hear her reply : "Yes, he is the ancestor of my family".