Featured Exhibit: BELGIUM 10 SOLS 1790 - Photographed not long ago - Drusus

Discussion in 'World Coins' started by Drusus, Dec 31, 2008.

  1. Drusus

    Drusus Pecunia non olet

    KM 635 Belgium Insurrection (Provincial) Coinage 10 Sols Silver Coin Depicting Lion on Obverse / Clasped Hands and Eleven Arrows on Reverse


    Verenigde Belgische Staten - États-Belgiques-Unis - United States of Belgium / Insurrection Coinage / Belgium, Revolt against Joseph II (HRE) / designed by Theodore Van Berckel, engraver at the Brussels Mint.

    Mintmark for Brussels Mint

    Obv.Brabant lion standing right, MON NOV ARG PROV FOED BELG
    (Currency New Money Provincial Federated Belgium.)

    Rev.Two hands shaking, arrows behind, IN VNIONE SALVS
    (in union for health/strength/salvation.)


    The bundle of 11 arrows representing 11 provinces: East Flanders, West Flanders, Brabant, Hainault, Tournai, Namur, Luxembourg, Liège, Limburg, Antwerp and Mechelen

    The United States of Belgium was a short lived confederation of eleven states in the Southern Netherlands which formed in early January 1790 as a result of a general revolt against the the Holy Roman Empire under the rule of Joseph II.

    Joseph II of the house of Habsburg-Lorraine was little more than a silent junior partner when he succeeded his father, Francis I, as Holy Roman Emperor in 1765. His mother, Maria-Theresa of Austria, continued to be the true head of state as she was under his fathers rule. Upon his mothers death in 1780 he became sole ruler. He immediately began to issue waves of sweeping state, religious, and social reforms.

    Joseph was a reformer who looked to secularize education and open it to greater numbers of the populace. He took steps to diminish the role of the clergy in state affairs. He reclaimed church lands and granted greater religious freedoms under the Patent of Tolerance of 1781. He took steps to unify the imperial states through bureaucratic reorganization and standardization of language and law. He abolished the death penalty and sought to end serfdom. These actions were generally seen as flawed attempts at a grand experiment in enlightened rule.

    He stepped on many toes on his path to enlightenment and in the end his sweeping reforms managed only to cause further disunity. Increasingly discontent with successive waves of imperial reforms, some of the states openly rebelled or looked to secede. The Austrian Netherlands rioted after their protests and concerns were all but ignored. Riots turned to revolt and eventually a revolutionary militia was formed to resist imperial attempts to regain control.

    Both liberal and conservatives entered into a loose alliance with the church to form a 'committee of national liberation'. At the center of the movement was the conservative lawyer Hendrik Van der Noot who opposed the emperors reforms from day one. Joining him was an unlikely ally, liberal lawyer Jean-François Vonck. Vonck initially approved of the reforms but eventually joined with the opposition over the haphazard way in which the reforms were enacted. The former faction was known as the Statists, the later was known as the Vonckists. Revolutionaries under Van der Noot raised a small force and invaded Brabant defeating Austrian forces at the Battle of Turnhout in October of 1789. Thus began the Brabant Revolution in earnest.

    The empire was in turmoil. Joseph was rendered powerless to direct the affairs of state and military. He was labeled a heretic by the catholic church for championing religious tolerance. His health was failing and he soon found he had been abandoned by most family and friends and his directives were increasingly ignored. The Empire's central power structure was weakened and at odds, it was ill prepared to immediately and effectively counter the spreading revolution.

    By November of 1789 Austrian troops had withdrawn to their strongholds in Luxemburg and Antwerp, fleeing the advancing revolutionary troops and general anarchy. Van der Noot declared Brabant independant and soon after the other provinces of the Austrian Netherlands followed suit. On the strength of their early successes, the now free states formally unified on January 11, 1790 forming the Verenigde Nederlandse Staten (Dutch) / États-Belgiques-Unis (French) / The United States of Belgium (English).

    The Emperor Joseph, broken and virtually powerless, died on February 20, 1790. He left to Leopold II, his brother and sucessor, an almost completely disrupted state. He asked that his epitaph read: "Here lies Joseph II, who failed in all he undertook." Leopold and his brother were close and shared many of the same views. Like Joseph he was a reformer, a ruler from the school of Enlightened Despotism. Unlike his brother he was more moderate and less rash in his actions.

    Leopold recognized Joseph's fatal flaws and distanced himself from his unpopular brother. Once in power he set to the daunting task of returning order to the empire. He worked to heal relations with other nations that had soured under his brothers rule. He repealed many of his brothers reforms and quickly moved to put and end to the general revolt and recapture former imperial holdings in the Southern Netherlands.

    Knowing the Austrians would return, Van der Noot and the different factions in the new Belgian state worked to establish a functioning government. They established a governing body known as the Sovereign Congress and sought further legitimacy by gaining recognition of their new state by other nations. World recognition did not come, nor did unity for the fledgling nation. The factions that had joined against a common foe were, in essence, radically different in their politics. Once the common foe was no longer an imminent threat, those factions began to fight amongst themselves. The conservative Statists and progressive Vonckists factions were in constant conflict, bordering on civil war.

    Imperial troops marched into the Austrian Netherlands and took the city of Namur on October 24, 1790. Two days later, the province of West Flanders also submitted. Constant fighting between conservatives and progressives, the lack of unity, the lack of direction, and the lack of international confidence in the endeavor proved fatal for the new republic. By December of 1790, Leopold had fully regained the territory and the United States of Belgium was no more.

    The United States of Belgium did not last a full year but the Brabant Revolution had long-lasting repercussions. The internal discord between the supporters Van der Noot and Vonck continued and was, in many ways, the basis of the two political movements that would dominate future Belgian politics. Forty years later the Southern Netherlands achieved independence and created the modern state of Belgium.
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  3. mrbrklyn

    mrbrklyn New Member

    Excellent write up, and interesting lesson on the turns and twists of the European path to secular democratized government. It's interesting that the people rose up AGAINST the reforms which were designed and would eventually free them.

    Great Coin. Great Photography.

  4. Lehigh96

    Lehigh96 Toning Enthusiast

    Now that is what I call a nice post. Think I got some competition now for that prize.

    Great Coin & Great history lesson. Thanks for sharing.
  5. mrbrklyn

    mrbrklyn New Member

    I'm interested in the Mint Mark and the mint. Rather unusual to me, or maybe I'm a novelist. What is the history of the Brussels mint and did it continue to function after the revolution failed.

  6. Lehigh96

    Lehigh96 Toning Enthusiast

    Did the violet toning on the reverse form after you cleaned the coin?
  7. Eduard

    Eduard Supporter**

    Very interesting post!

    I learnt more by reading your post about the revolution of 1790, than i did in all of the 10 years that i lived in Belgium.

    I ask myself whether this episode had any repercusions in the current divisions between the Wallons (french speaking belgians), and the Flemish, dutch speaking.

    By the way, these coins are VERY highly coveted in belgium. There is also, if i remember correctly, a larger denomination to this coin with a lion on the obverse, and the shields of the provinces on the reverse.

    Once again, thanks for this intersting read.

  8. randygeki

    randygeki Coin Collector

  9. mrbrklyn

    mrbrklyn New Member

    :) :)

    Don't be afraid to nominate this thread..
  10. Drusus

    Drusus Pecunia non olet

    I think the reason for this is because of the WAY he instituted the reforms and a general growing disdain for the empire. From what I gather, Joseph had grand dreams of being a great reformer with an enlightened rule. The problem with this was:

    1. Many people would say you cannot be enlightened and still be a despot. By despot I mean an absolute ruler with unlimited power. Enlightened and despot seldom work well together.

    2. He was just not a great reformer. Apparently it all looked better ( and easier) on paper. When it came down to instituting the reforms, they were heavy handed, broad and all encompassing not taking into consideration the effect of many of the bureaucratic changes would have on the existing systems. Apparently he was prone to start something with a lot of zeal and lose interest and steam. He seemed to jump from one thing to the other very quickly never giving proper attention to most. I typify him as dreamer sitting in an ivory tower with high minded philosophy but not willing or able to institute these ideals and CERTAINLY not willing to make any sacrifices when it comes to his own absolute power to properly transition to a more enlightened rule (like a constitution)

    In the end, those who were against his reforms in the beginning were against them on principle (church opposed to religious reforms), the rest piled on as he botched each step until even his own brother who shared his high minded ideals would not stand by him. He was just the wrong guy for the job.
  11. Drusus

    Drusus Pecunia non olet

    To be honest, I am not sure. I know that today the Royal Belgian Mint operates in Brussels minting all the coin for that country as well as other issues. I also know the mint was in operation before 1790 and after.

    I do beleive I read that The mintage of this particular coin was rather low. Not quite sure the number though.

    Here is a bit more info regarding the engraver from the book Biographical Dictionary of medalists, coin, gem, and seal engravers:

    VAN BERCKEL, THEODORE VICTOR. Vide Vol. I, N. E., p. 164.


    M. Alphonse de Witte has published in the Gazette numismatique, 1904-9 a series ot articles on this Engraver, and given a list of his works. He states that Edm. de Busscher's notice of T. V. van Berckel in Biographic nationals is full of errors.
    The following notes are culled from M. de Witte's monograph, which is most exhaustive.

    Theodore Victor Van Berckel was born at Bois-le-Duc on 21. April 1739; both his grandfather, Theodore Gaspard, and his father, Theodore Everard, had followed the profession of silversmiths and engravers. In his youth, Theodore also learned the art of engraving on metal, and in view of bettering himself he went to work under J. C. Marme, Mint-engraver at Cleves. On the conclusion of his stay there, he married, and settled in business at Rotterdam, where he engraved a number of medals and some jetons.

    In 1776 he went to Brussels to take part in the competition for the post of Engraver at the Mint there, which since the decease of Jacques Roettiers in 1772 had not been refilled. The competitors were, besides van Berckel, Simon Joseph Cattoir, a Line-engraver, Adrian van Baerle, Mini-engraver at Dordrecht, Francois Joseph Bis, of Douay, and Conrad Joseph Nethe, a native of Konigsberg in Prussia. Van Berckel was appointed Engraver-general of the coins of the Austrian Netherlands on 29. September 1776, and he entered in office in the following November.

    Jean Baptiste Harrewyn, Mint-engraver at Brussels, died on 22. December 1783, and his successor, Christian Haller, not being appointed until 7. April 1787, it is probable that van Berckel filled the post in the meantime and thus enjoyed the special fees (droit du marc) which he had claimed in vain before and which were the special privilege of the " graveur particulier ". On the outbreak of the Revolution in Brabant, van Berckel accepted to remain in the service of the United Belgian Provinces, but in the course of the first French Invasion (6. November 1792 to 18. March 1793) he refused to serve the Republic, and on the definite occupation of the country by the French, the Engraver-general and most of the officials of the Mint left Brussels. While his wife and children returned to Breda, in Holland, their native home, he went to Linz (Upper Austria), and later, in 1797, to Prague ; then, with the government's permit, he finally settled down at Anholt in Westphalia.

    By decree of 22. June 1798, Van Berckel was appointed, on the recommendation of J. N. Wirth, Chief-engraver at the Vienna Mint. Partial loss of his eyesight caused him to obtain a leave in 1803, when he returned to Bois-le-Duc. Three years later he went back to the Austrian capital, but only for a few months. He died on 19. September 1808 at Bois-le-Duc, in his seventieth year.

    M. de Witte gives the following list of van Berckel's productions : —
    COINS. Maria Theresia. Double Liard of Brussels, 1777-1779; — Liard of Brussels, 1776-78, 1780. — Joseph II. AT. Double sou-
    L. Forrer. — Biographical Nolica a) Mtdallisli, — VI IJ
    Loading...Loading...verain, 1781; — Souverain (no specimen yet found); — JR. Cou- ronne, 1789, and other dates;— Demi-Couronne, 1789, and other dates; — Plaquette (or XIV Liards) of Brussels, 1788 ; — Ten Liards, 1788; — JE. Double Liard, and Liard, 1781; — XII Sols for Luxemburg, 1786 ; — VI Sols for Luxemburg, 1786 ; — I Sol, for Luxemburg, 1786; — II Liards for Luxemburg, 1789; —Demi Liard for Luxemburg, 1783. — Revolution in Brabant. AT Lion d'or of Brussels, 1790;— J&. Lion d'argent, 1790;—Florins d'argent, 1790 (2 types); — Demi-Florins d'argent, 1790 (2 types); — JE. Double Liard, and Liard, of Brussels, 1790. — Leopold II. JR. Plaquette (XIV Sols) of Brussels, 1791; — Billon, 10 Liards: — JE. Double Liard, 1791 ; — Liard, 1792. — Francis II. Af. Double Souverain, of Brussels, 1793 ; — JR. Courpnne, 1794; — Plaquette (XIV Sols) 1793 (2 types); — Billon. loSols, 1792 ; —JE. Double Liard, 1790; — Liard, 1792.
  12. De Orc

    De Orc Well-Known Member

    I like the simplicity of the coin and a great write up Dru :hug:
  13. Drusus

    Drusus Pecunia non olet

    There is also a Florin


    and the Lion d'argent


    These are quite popular in Belgium for good reason. I have had people contact me asking to purchase this coin for quite high sums, if I wasnt an idiot I would sell it.

    I am not sure if these events contributed to the dual nature in Belgium regarding Dutch and French...I have a feeling the fact that they were vassals of France for so long but also handed off to the Holy Roman Empire here and there, then back to France...passed between the two often might be a big factor to that. Its an interesting history.

    BTW, I have family in Belgium and have been there often, I like the place a lot. When I go across the pond I use brussels as my base of operations :)
  14. Eduard

    Eduard Supporter**

    Hello Drusus,
    That is a real coincidence. I still have family in Belgium too. I lived there for many years, in Waterloo, south of Brussels, almost literally looking onto the battlefield of the battle of Waterloo. Talk about a place full of history! I guess that is what started me collecting german coins of the Napoleonic era.

    PS- I was always attracted by the Lyon d'argent and would have loved to obtain a sample. But as i said these are very coveted coins in Belgium, and as such were way out of budget.
  15. mrbrklyn

    mrbrklyn New Member

    Out of YOUR budget? What does the market bare for them?

  16. Drusus

    Drusus Pecunia non olet

    Of course it matters what condition they are in but I have seen real fine examples go for around 1000 USD or more.
  17. mrbrklyn

    mrbrklyn New Member

    That is decent demand .... indeed
  18. Moustan

    Moustan New Member

    Nice, does that include the napoleonic commemoration coins the Germans minted in 1913? I've seen drei unt zwei mark varieties kicking about but I'm not sure if they made them as far down as the pfennigs :S
  19. Boschboom

    Boschboom Junior Member

    The picture of the portrait of Van Berckel in the original posting is of poor quality. Here's a better one. On the picture a young Theodore van Berckel is painted. It was painted by his younger brother Rutger van Berckel who died in 1767. Theodore van Berckel should be not older than 28 years on the portrait.

    Attached Files:

  20. mrbrklyn

    mrbrklyn New Member

    thanks for the input and research/ You never know what cointalk will turn up..
  21. mrbrklyn

    mrbrklyn New Member

    9th place: 6 Qualfier 123 points

    Exhibit: BELGIUM 10 SOLS 1790 - Photographed not long ago - Drusus http://www.cointalk.com/forum/t45588/#post489880

    Art     Edu    Nui    FS     TOT     GT
    9  	10  	9  	0  	28  	123
    4 	10 	7 	0 	21 	
    10 	6 	10 	0 	26 	
    7 	9 	9 	0 	25 	
    7 	9 	7 	0 	23 	
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