The Royal Belgian Mint was founded in 1830 and began striking coins two years later. Its rich history includes the work of Luc Luycks, who served as its Chief Engraver and created the obverse design for all euro coinage. Although the Mint technically remains open, it stopped striking coins in 2018 and is now responsible for ordering coins from the Netherlands.
The Royal Belgian Mint’s short history may be considered a microcosm of the Belgian state. It was founded just over two decades prior to the recognition of the country’s independence in 1839, and it ceased its minting operations a decade and a half after the enacting of the Treaty of Nice, which strengthened the unity of Europe and, in doing so, mitigated national sovereignty of member states. While the Mint no longer strikes coins, the coins that it produced during its history, especially its final decades, offer unique stories about the region and its history. Collectors with an interest in education, history, or philosophy should not overlook the coins that were produced by the Royal Belgian Mint
In the latter years of its operations, the mint struck several important coins. Perhaps the most significant of them was a 2006 coin celebrating the 400th anniversary of the death of Flemish philosopher Justus lipsius . Lipsius made it his life’s work to revive ancient Stoicism in a way that would fit with Christianity. The ten-euro coin features a portrait of an aging Lipsius on the reverse along with inscriptions of his name and the years of his life. The obverse bears a map of the European Union and twelve stars.
In 2015, the mint found itself at the center of a diplomatic row when it issued a €2 coin to commemorate the 200th anniversary of Napoleon’s defeat at Waterloo, which is situated in modern day Belgium. Paris objected, arguing that the commemoration was a “symbol that is negative” and that it would “undermine the unity of the Eurozone.” The mint complied, getting rid of nearly 200,000 coins that it had already struck. The mint then skirted the French objection through the use of a Eurozone rule that allows states to approve their own coins without the approval of other states if the coins were issued in irregular denominations. Hence, the €2 coin became a €2.50 coin, and the opportunity to mark one of the most important events in European history was not missed.
The final coins ever struck at the mint marked Ghent University’s 200th anniversary. Founded in 1817, the university has a reputation as being one of the finest in the world. Its motto is “Inter Utrumque,” which is Latin for “in between both,” a reference to the Catholic University of Leuven and the secularist Free University of Brussels. While the obverse bears the standard Euro design, the reverse bears the engraved logo of the university along with the unique Belgian mintmark, the head of Michael the Archangel, and the armorial bearings of Herzele city.