Author Archives: danneem

The Museum’s façade

Before looking at the Bank’s oldest façade in detail, a few more words on the Hôtel of the Governor itself. The Old French word, “hôtel” has been used since the 18th century to signify the urban residence, temporary or permanent, of a person of high rank, in this case the Governor of the National Bank of Belgium. The statutes of the Bank stipulated that the Governor should live in the capital; in return, the Bank was to be responsible for the cost of furnishing and maintaining his town residence.

Expo ’58, the Atomium and the National Bank of Belgium

The Universal and International Exhibition – Brussels 1958, Expo ’58 for short, opened its doors 17th April north of the Brussels city centre at the Heysel plains with the Osseghem Park in the middle. Before the final closure of the gates on October, 19th almost 42 million people visited the Expo and Brussels was completely transformed.

The first “belgian” coins: lions d’or and lions d’argent of the United Belgian States

Belgium got its independence in 1830. The history of the Belgian franc – replaced by the euro in 1999 – dates back to 1832 when its characteristics were defined by law. The first “belgian” coins were struck a few years earlier, in 1790.

The cradle of the European banknote stood in … Sweden

In 1654 Christina, the young Swedish queen, caused upheaval when she abdicated and became a convert to the Roman-Catholic faith. Her extravagancy and the recently ended Thirty years’ war (1618-1648) had left her country with enormous debts. To make financial matters worse, her successor and cousin, Charles X Gustavus, continued warfare with Poland and Denmark. These lasting conflicts were a serious threat to the economy and caused a depreciation of the copper plate money or kopparplätmynt.

Money, source of vanity: a pictorial warning

Frans Francken II, a talented Flemish painter (Antwerp, 1581-1642) who ran an important workshop in his hometown, belonged to an artistic family. Both his father and his son were painters as well, although he was the most productive and the best known of the Francken dynasty.

Cyprus and Malta join the Euro area

1 January 2008, the Euro area enlarged again as Cyprus and Malta joined the other 13 members of the euroclub. Both countries only recently joined the European Union, i.e. 1 May 2004 which means that they were very succesful in adapting their economies.

The Vierlander, a precursor of the Euro. A first step towards monetary unification

Since the invention of money, a lot of regions, cities, countries and people use their own means of payment. Consquently, the variety of currencies has always been enormous Today the euro, the currency of an evergrowing number of European countries, is the result of a long process of monetary unification. The vierlander (= four lands), the 15th century silver coin we are focussing on this month, is one of the early forerunners of monetary union.

The money changer’s bench

One may wonder why the Museum of the National Bank of Belgium placed a wooden table right in the centre of the main exhibition hall where the history of money is told. The answer is quite simple, the bench belonged to a money changer. The owner of the bench did not only change money, as his profession might suggest, he also acted as a banker. Money changers found their way to the cities of the Low Countries in the Late Middle Ages. If you only think about the enormous variety of coins in circulation, it becomes quite obvious money changers played an important role in the economic life of a medieval citizen.

First centenary: time for innovation

The design of the euro banknotes depicts the architectural styles of seven periods in Europe’s cultural history. Compared to the former notes of the member states of the euro area which can be regarded as glorious portrait galleries, the euro notes no longer depict portraits from famous persons of the euro area. Questions that might have given rise to discussion were, amongst others: who? males? females? what nationality? In the 20th century the portrait became one of the main motifs of the Belgian notes.

A Nazi Counterfeit in the National Bank

The object we present you this month is a note you would not expect in the National Bank. It is indeed the only false note in the Museum’s showcases. To understand its presence, we have to dig into Europe’s past, in the history of World War II to be precise. This note is part of one of the most important forgeries ever set up and this counterfeiting was engineered by Nazi Germany.