The Belgian emergency notes of World War I are now online!  Share

During the First World War a lot of Belgian municipalities suffered from scarcity of money. So they started issuing emergency notes themselves. The Museum of the National Bank of Belgium posesses more than 4500 originals of these notes. With the centenary of this conflict coming up, it has put the collection online.

The online catalogue unlocks the complete “Belgian emergency notes” collection, so it does not only show the notes on permanent display in the museum, but also the ones which are kept in the storerooms. Next to the “Commodity Money” collection, this series of emergency notes is the second part of the museum’s collection to be digitalised.

Some 600 local authorities and hundreds of relief committees and companies were forced to take recourse to the issuing of emergency money, mostly paper money. You can now see on our site  what sort of money Belgian citizens paid with during the Great War. Emergency notes could not only be had in a number of denominations, they were also very diverse in shape and size. Some give a perfect reflection of the Zeitgeist, as the illustration below shows.

Emergency note (verso), municipality of Merksplas, 50 centimes
© Museum of the National Bank of Belgium

You can browse through the collection or search specifically for images and information on the emergency money of a particular municipality. The extensive bibliography is a vital instrument for anyone wanting to find out more.

If you yourself have anything to offer in relation to one of the items (additional information, details, stories, memories, etc.), please share your knowledge with us!

One Comment

  1. Ben Amar
    Posted Saturday February 16th, 2013 at 04:17 PM | Permalink

    Bonjour, je trouve cela très intéressant. Merci pour les informations. Voilà, je suis entrain de réaliser un TFE sur les femmes et la Grande Guerre et je suis entrain de lire un article de Mme Eliane Gubin: Réflexions sur genre et guerre en Belgique (1914-1918). Il est fait mention d’une aide fournie par le CNSA pour les hommes de 3 francs majorée de 50 centimes par enfant à charge, tandis que les femmes recevaient seulement une indemnité de 1 franc 50. Ma question est savoir quelle est la conversion de la monnaie de cette époque en euros actuels, ceci pour me faire une idée afin de la détailler dans mon travail. Merci d’avance.

    Bien à vous,

    Ahmed