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From Brussels to Belgrade and back. The task assigned to Charles Boschmans

Nowadays, there are only a few Belgians who remember the name of Charles Boschmans (Brussels, 2 March 1839 – Sint-Gillis, 12 August 1897). In Serbia, on the other hand, he is a well-known figure. In January 1884 the National Bank of Belgium gave its Head of Accounting a very specific assignment: to design the structure of the brand new central bank of Serbia. Charles Boschmans immediately left for Belgrade and was to stay there for a total of 12 months.

Charles Boschmans

Charles Boschmans

The task assigned to Charles Boschmans is covered in depth by the temporary exhibition: ‘Historical links and co-operation between the National Bank of Serbia and the National Bank of Belgium, 1883 – 2010’ which runs from 10 November 2010 to 14 January 2011 in the Library of the National Bank of Belgium. It is presented as a striking example of the close co-operation and exchange of expertise between the central banks of 19th century Europe.

Europe’s printers of fiduciary money went on study trips to one another’s printing works, helped one another out in time of need and conducted frequent correspondence. The issuance of Serbia’s paper money was also a major challenge for Charles Boschmans; he arranged for the first 100 dinar banknote of the Privileged National Bank of the Kingdom of Serbia to be produced by the NBB’s printing works in Brussels.

But his assignment went far beyond that. In Belgrade, the experienced Belgian banker was involved in more or less all the organisational, legal and personnel issues facing the new National Bank of Serbia. The structure of the National Bank of Belgium always served as the model to be copied.

Charles Boschmans carried out his work with great enthusiasm. He liked travelling and enjoyed the train journey from Brussels to Belgrade. He travelled out via Vienna and the journey took three days. For the return journey, he made a detour and spent ten days of his holiday to travel back to Brussels via Trieste, Venice, Milan and Switzerland. Photography was his second great passion. He was a member and later also the treasurer of the Association belge de Photographie et de Cinématographie where he was known as a ‘keen lanternist’. Photographs taken by him can still be found in the association’s Reviews. However, when he was 57 years old destiny struck: he fell ill, and died on 12 August 1897.

Bibliography:

Where?

NBB Library (closed at the end of March 2016)
Warmoesberg 57
1000 Brussels

When?

From 10 November 2010 to 14 January 2011
Monday to Friday
10.00 hrs to 15.00 hrs.

Price?

Free