The end of an era for Belgium’s Royal Mint

After 185 years of production, The Royal Mint of Belgium is set to close forever.

The Royal Mint of Belgium struck its first coins in 1832, just two years after the institution was founded, but the long standing mint will cease operations forever on January 1st 2018.

From the end of the 1990’s the Belgian Mint started producing euro coins ready for the switch from the Belgian Franc to the euro at the start of 2002. And the nation considers itself one of the pioneers with regards to the introduction of the euro as it was Belgian chief engraver Luc Luycks who  designed the obverse side of all euro coins.

Unfortunately the Federal Government feels it has become too expensive for the Royal Mint to carry on producing coins itself and has decided that a private company should produce Belgian euro coins. And with more and more people paying electronically there is less and less need for coins.

Instead, the task of striking coins is being outsourced to a private company in an effort to save money.

The Royal Belgium Mint caused a stir back in 2015 when they issued a €2.50 coin to commemorate the 200th anniversary of Napoleon’s defeat at Waterloo after France forced it to scrap a €2 coin with the same purpose.Tweet

Paris objected to the Belgian coin, commemorating the French emperor’s defeat by British and Prussian forces, branding the commemoration of Waterloo as a “symbol that is negative” which would “undermine the unity of the Eurozone.”

Belgium was forced to get rid of about 180,000 €2 coins that had already been minted after Paris sent a letter saying they could cause an “unfavourable reaction in France”.

But Belgium managed to skirt the French protests by taking advantage of a European rule stating that Eurozone countries are permitted to approve their own coins without approval of other member states, providing the new denomination as an irregular one. In this case the irregular denomination was €2.50.

The Royal Belgium Mint strikes more than 40 million coins a year  but the final batch of commemorative coins have now been minted, ready to close its doors in just over a month.

The last coins ever struck at The Royal Belgian Mint – issued to celebrate the 200th Anniversary of Ghent University.

The last coins ever struck at The Royal Belgian Mint were the special €2 coins issued to celebrate the 200th Anniversary of Ghent University.

The special coin features an engraved logo of the University of Ghent with the dates 1817-2017. The Belgian mintmark, a helmeted head of the archangel Michel, as well as the mintmaster mark, the armorial bearings of Herzele city, are located respectively on the right and on the left of issuing country indication ‘BE’ (meaning Belgium). The12 stars of the European flag are represented on the external ring of the coin.

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How Gordon Brown saved the UK from a “Finnish Coin Disaster”

Less than 24 hours after the designs were unveiled, The Mint of Finland have scrapped designs for a program of coins marking the nation’s independence centennial.

The coin caused uproar on social media after the design, which appeared to show an execution during the Finnish Civil War, was released to the public.

The Mint of Finland scrapped designs for a program of coins marking the nation’s centennial after an uproar over this coin image showing an execution during the Finnish Civil War.  Image credit: Coin World

The coins were due to be put on sale on 4th May, but the Communications Director for the Mint of Finland confirmed that no coins had been struck. 

The Mint of Finland said that it “deeply regrets all the bad feeling caused by the images in the collector coin series.”

And a similar coin design disaster could have happened in the UK.

The Victoria Cross 50p that was ordered to be redesigned

Back in 2005, Gordon Brown (Chancellor of the Exchequer at the time) ordered a 50p coin commemorating the Victoria Cross be redesigned because it appeared to show a British soldier being shot in the back.

The original version of this design for the 150th Anniversary of the VC was reportedly personally vetoed by Chancellor of the Exchequer Gordon Brown as it appeared to show a soldier being shot in the back.

The 50p coin was issued to mark 150 years of the famous Victoria Cross medal, which is the highest honour for gallantry which can be given to British and Commonwealth forces. However, the original design reportedly depicted a soldier carrying a wounded comrade, apparently in the sights of an enemy sniper.

A letter from the Chancellor’s aides to The Royal Mint said: “He (Mr. Brown) appreciates the designer’s attempt to portray the courage and selflessness of the British soldier carrying a wounded comrade while under fire. But he feels that the particular image of a British soldier apparently about to be shot in the back will not seem appropriate to many people.”

The ‘Heroic Acts’ 50p coin was designed by sculptor Clive Duncan to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the institution of the Victoria Cross in 2006 along with another 50p designed by Claire Aldridge.

Germany’s first ever 5-euro coin has been released into circulation… and it’s see-through!

Germany’s first ever 5-euro coin was released into circulation yesterday. Dubbed the ‘three material coin‘, it is also see-through!

Developed by Dr Peter Huber and Günther Waadt, the coin features a blue plastic ring in the middle and has been named ‘Blue Planet Earth’.

Not only is the blue ring easy to identify and authenticate by the naked eye, it is made of polymer plastic which behaves like a form of insulation between the pieces of two different metals and will be easy for cash machine to recognize whether it is real or fake.

A first in the history of coins

A German Minting Technology team has spent a decade developing this new security feature. In fact, it’s the first coin to be made from a combination of metal and plastic materials.

The plastic ring can be manufactured in any colour – perhaps we’ll see a rainbow of coloured Euro coins in the near future! It is also rumoured that the coin can change colour when exposed to UV light. 

A total of 2 million coins have been released and will undoubtedly be snapped up and highly prized by coin collectors… if they haven’t already.

Yesterday it was reported that hundreds of Germans were queuing at the Bundesbank in Frankfurt for a chance to get hold of this new cutting-edge coin.

It’s unlikely that these 5-euro coins will be used in everyday transactions but if you are lucky enough to be heading to Germany any time soon, make sure you keep a look out.