175 years of the Royal Numismatic Society of Belgium

[bsa_pro_ad_space id=4]

by Ursula Kampmann
translated by Annika Backe

November 23, 2017 – What would numismatics be without the community of coin enthusiasts? They come from research and teaching, from museums and auction houses; they collect, buy and sell; they design and mint coins and medals. And they like to associate, for the joy in numismatics can be increased through socializing with like-minded people. Numismatics connect! For centuries. 

Jan Moens (ed.), Proceedings of the Colloquium ‘Belgian Numismatics in Perspective’ (Brussels, 21 May 2016). 361 p. with b/w and color illustrations, hardcover, 16.5 x 25.2 cm.

The Société Royale de Numismatique de Belgique, or Koninklijk Belgisch Genootschap voor Numismatiek, is a comparatively recent phenomenon even if it ranks among the world’s oldest numismatic societies. It was founded 175 years ago. The year is certain. The place might be debated, although a letter dating to 1841, the year of foundation, mentions a founding meeting in Tirlemont. 

As Johan van Heesch, President of the Royal Numismatic Society of Belgium, so nicely puts it in the foreword: “We are a serious society.” – (having said this, it might be assumed that, given the humor of some of its members, there is some hearty laughter at the relevant meetings after all). As a matter of fact, this Society is famous in the numismatic world for its ground-breaking contributions published in its publication organ. The RBN – Revue belge de Numismatique et de Sigillographie / Belgisch Tijdschrift voor Numismatiek en Zegelkunde – has ranked among the most important academic podia mainly for the coinage and economic history of ancient times, since 1844. That was the year the first RBN volume was published. 

Therefore, it’s all the more beautiful to see that the celebratory colloquium and the accompanying festschrift now focuse on the human factor, being dedicated to all those in Belgium who are committed to numismatics. To say it with the words of Johan van Heesch: “The history of numismatics in Belgium and the Southern Netherlands, from the point of view of the collector and the scientist as well as the producer.”

So, if you want to get to know the various facets of Belgian numismatics, we can only suggest you read this volume. 

Got curious? Then take a closer look at the table of contents, and read some articles for yourself. These are available on the internet. My personal favorite – and this will hardly come as a surprise to anyone – is Johan van Heesch’s history of the Belgian coin trade from 1830-1900. But this is matter of taste, of course.
The unpublished article by Philip Grierson, which addresses the history of medieval numismatics in the Southern Netherlands, will also be of great interest. It was supposed to be part of MEC volume 7 which had to be postponed due to his death. 

See for yourself. And take the opportunity to explore the impressive website of the Society in greater detail. There you will not only find the table of contents of all RBN volumes including downloads of a variety of articles but also comprehensive bibliographies of Belgian numismatics as well as an insight into contributions on Belgian medals published by the Society. Not forgetting the page that leads to the standard references on Belgian numismatics. 

You can order the publications via e-mail directly from the Royal Numismatic Society of Belgium.