The collection of medals

The Museum of the National Bank of Belgium has a large collection of medals from the 16th to the 21st century, no less than 4,105 pieces (03/01/2019). After commodity money and Belgian emergency money from the First World War, medals are the Museum’s third sub collection which can be consulted online.

Medals are generally coin-shaped but, unlike coins, they have no payment value. They are works of art in a relatively small format which were used to commemorate a certain person (portrait medal) or event (commemorative or historical medal). In addition, there are also attendance tokens, accounting jettons, commemorative jettons, guild medals, charity tokens, satirical medals, local tokens etc.



The bulk of the pieces from the collection is made of copper or bronze, the rest is in gold or silver.

If you are looking for the image of a famous person, you will stand a real chance of finding this person in the database. Kings and queens, princes and princesses are not alone in being portrayed on medals. Many people are immortalized in metal: politicians, businessmen, artists or sports personalities are among them too.

The commemorative jettons read like a history book and will bring many historical events alive. Wars and battles, but also peace treaties and trade pacts, new buildings or monuments, major infrastructure works and all kind of anniversaries, all to be discovered here.

The charity tokens or tokens for the poor also deserve a closer look. They were given to the paupers by many clerical or municipal institutions and were redeemable for food (bread, milk, meat and fish), clothing (shirts, shoes, stockings…), fuel (wood, peat, coal) or other utensils. Private benefactors could also stipulate in their will that the poor who attended their funeral or who attended the annual mass would receive a token upon leaving.

Visit the Medals collection: Dutch French