The Belgian franc was the currency of the Kingdom of Belgium from 1832 until 2002. In 2002, the Euro was introduced It was subdivided into 100 subunits, known as centiemen, centimes or Centime.
History of the Belgian Coin
The conquest of most of western Europe by revolutionary and Napoleonic France led to the French franc’s wide circulation. In the Austrian Netherlands, the kronenthaler was replaced by the franc. This was in turn replaced by the Dutch guilder when the Netherlands and the United Kingdom was formed.
Following independence from the Kingdom of the Netherlands, the new Kingdom of Belgium in 1832 adopted its own franc, equivalent to the French franc, followed by Luxembourg in 1848 and Switzerland in 1850.
Belgian mint working during the late 19th century was innovative and Belgium was the first country to introduce coins made of cupronickel, in 1860. Some later coins featured inscriptions in both languages. When the two languages appeared on either side of the same face of a coin, two versions were still produced: one with Dutch to the left and French to the right, and one with the alternate arrangement. Banknotes became bilingual in 1887
Between 1832 and 1834, copper 1, 2, 5 and 10 centime, silver,, 1, 2 and 5 franc, and gold 20 and 40 franc coins were introduced. Some of the early 1 and 2 centimes were struck over Dutch and 1 cent coins. The 40 franc was not issued after 1841, whilst silver francs and gold 10 and 25 francs were issued between 1848 and 1850. Silver 20 centimes replaced the franc in 1852. In 1860, cupro-nickel 20 centimes were introduced, followed by cupro-nickel 5 and 10 centimes in 1861. The silver 5 franc was discontinued in 1876. Between 1901 and 1908, holed, cupro-nickel 5, 10 and 25 centime coins were introduced.
In 1914, production of the 1 centime and all silver and gold coins ceased. Zinc 5, 10, and 25 centimes were introduced in the German-occupied zone, followed by holed, zinc 50 centimes in 1918. Production of 2 centimes ended in 1919. In 1922 and 1923, nickel 50 centime and 1 and 2 franc coins were introduced bearing the text “Good For” . These featured the god Mercury. Nickel-brass replaced cupro-nickel in the 5 and 10 centimes in 1930, followed by the 25 centimes in 1938. Nickel 5 and 20 francs were introduced in 1930 and 1931, respectively, followed by silver 20 francs in 1933 and 50 francs in 1939. In 1938 the 5 francs was reduced in size and redesigned along with the 1 franc to depict a lion and heraldic arms.
As a consequence of the German occupation in 1940, the silver coinage was discontinued. In 1941, zinc replaced all other metals in the 5, 10 and 25 centimes, and 1 and 5 francs. In 1944 the Allies minted 25 million 2 franc coins at the Philadelphia Mint using leftover planchets for the 1943 steel cent.
In 1948, cupro-nickel 5 francs and silver 50 and 100 francs were produced, followed by silver 20 francs in 1949 and cupro-nickel 1 franc in 1950. These coins depicted classical allegoric figures. Bronze 20 and 50 centimes featuring a miner and lantern were minted in 1952. Despite the widely varied dates these coins were issued into circulation only a few years apart as part of a broader currency reform. The silver coinage ceased production after 1955.
Cupro-nickel 25 centime coins replaced the 20 centime in 1964. The 25 centime coins were later discontinued in 1975. Nickel 10 francs depicting King Baudouin were introduced in 1969, followed by nickel-bronze 20 francs in 1980 and nickel 50 francs in 1987, all of which – bar the 10 Franc coin – replaced the corresponding banknotes. Aluminium-bronze replaced cupro-nickel in the 5 franc in 1986, whilst nickel-plated iron replaced cupro-nickel in the 1 franc in 1988, which was also significantly reduced in size. These changes coincided with a gradual modernization of the general coinage while older issues were gradually pulled from circulation, similar to what took place during the early postwar years. The new designs were also more identifiable to vending machines and the visually impaired. 1994 saw a redesign of all denominations but the 50 centimes, with a uniform design featuring King Albert II replacing the image of Baudouin. This series ceased production after 2000.
Coins ceased to be convertible in 2004.
Use of Luxembourg francs in Belgium
Between 1944 and 2002, 1 Luxembourg franc was equal to 1 Belgian franc. Both francs were legal tender in the two countries. Nevertheless, payment with Luxembourg banknotes were commonly denied by shopkeepers in Belgium, either by ignorance or by fear that their other customers would refuse the banknotes, forcing them to go through the hassle of a trip to their bank to redeem the value of the banknote.
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