July 3, 2014 – The Coin Cabinet of the Royal Library of Belgium digitized a large number of medals and coins the past few years. Although the work is still far from being finished, some collections are already available for researchers.
All objects are presented with an image of the obverse and reverse, a description in French or Dutch and the weight, diameter and material.
In total, more than 22,400 descriptions are available online and work progresses on a daily base. The database covers mainly Belgian medals from 1794 and is up-to-date until 1911.
A second group are the Catholic religious medals from the Ancien Regime (16th to 18th century). This collection, about 1,340 objects, is only a small part of the total of 25,000 religious medals kept at the Coin Cabinet, but most of these are 19th and 20th century objects.
The third group of objects in the online catalogue is the Dupont collection of 1,385 bas-reliefs, acquired by the King Baudouin Foundation and deposited in the Coin Cabinet. These are metal plaquettes, sometimes of considerable size, and date between 1870 and 1930. They represent the artwork of 137 artists and medal manufacturers.
A fourth group that is available online covers siege coins. These are made of silver, copper, but also lead, tin and even cardboard. They are an important witness of the numerous wars and sieges in the Netherlands between the 16th and the early 19th century. 360 objects can be consulted in the database.
The fifth online dataset is the Lefébure collection, a series of more than 8,800 decorations and medals, all made during the First World War. More than 5,000 decorations have already been digitalized. The aim is to make the whole collection accessible by 2017.
The digitization of these collections continues every day. A large number of objects is in process of being digitalized and/or published in the database, such as the coins of Liège from the 10th century until 1792, a large collection of late Roman nummi from Alexandria, Egypt, Roman Republican and Roman Julio-Claudian coins.
To search in the database, it is important to know what keywords to use in the different fields. If you want to consult the religious medals on the French page, you have to insert the keywords “médailles religieuses” in the field “type d’objet”. The same applies to the siege coins, where you insert the keywords “monnaie obsidionale” and the Belgian medals, with the keyword “médaille”. That way, you will only search in the specified type of objects, and not the whole catalogue.
Here you can access and search the database.