Kingdom of Belgium
1 Franc – 1923 w/ French Legend
The constitutional monarchy of Belgium was not established until 1830, following the the upheavals created by Napoleon Bonaparte, and the revolutions of 1830. The origin of the country name stems from the Celtic tribe of the area called the ‘Belgae’, declared by Julius Caesar to be the most courageous tribe in all of Gaul.
The well rendered image of a woman, possessing both a sword and a shield, in the act of washing her leg, was interesting to me. Combine that with the reverse depiction of a caduceus, the universal symbol of medicine, and I felt the coin had a untold story to tell. At first I thought it might involve Joan of Arc, who grew up in a small town in northeastern France. It turns out that the young lady on this coin is a personification of Belgium. Her attire, including the laurel wrapped sword, and her act of washing represents a proud Belgium recovering from the devastation of World War I.
This series of coins, all struck in nickel, were first issued in 1922. There are three denominations to be found, 50 Centimes and 1 and 2 Francs. Like other coins of Belgium from this era, you’ll find the legends in either French or Dutch, as described in the SCWC by Krause-Mishler. If I’m not mistaken the Dutch legends may be more properly described as Flemish. So, here on the French version you find ‘BELGIQUE’ and ‘BON POUR’, while on the Flemish you see ‘BELGIE’ and ‘GOED VOOR’. Generally, they are very common but hard to find well struck and in great condition, like this example. There are some very scarce years of issue and a one year 2 Francs piece in medallic alignment.