The National Bank of Belgium has released (22nd April) new silver Proof collector’s coins which remember the 185th anniversary of the first-ever train line that was built in Europe. Just five years after Belgium’s independence was attained from the Netherlands, the country’s first king, Leopold I, signed a new law on the 1st May 1834. This edict created the beginnings of Belgium’s first railway system. Less than one year later, the railway was inaugurated on the 5th May 1835 when the railway between Allée Verte in Brussels, the site of the very first station, and Mechelen, was inaugurated. With this extraordinary industrial accomplishment, Brussels became the first capital in the world to have a railway connection and the first train line in Europe. King Leopold I officially opened the line and watched with pride, but did he did not travel on the train, as his advisers considered that too perilous.
Steam locomotives that pulled the three British-built trains carrying guests were named “La Flèche” (or “arrow”) and described as a locomotive of seven open carriages with benches for “people of good descent.” The Stephenson consisted of seven open and covered carriages and L’Elephant, the largest, consisted of 16 open carriages with benches. Combined, the capacity of the first train journey which rode on one line transported 900 passengers in 30 carriages. The route, which started from Brussels Groendreef Station, was 22 kilometres long and had just the one stop in Vilvoorde. On arrival in Mechelen, all the wagons were coupled together, and on the way back to Brussels, they were pulled by L’Éléphant. The first Belgian-made locomotive, Le Belge, left John Cockerill’s workshop in Seraing on the 30th December 1835. With this first journey, the route marked the beginning of the rich history of Belgian railways and was the driving force behind Belgium’s impressive industrial success in the 19th century.
The Royal Dutch Mint produces the coins at their facilities in Utrecht, the Netherlands, under license of the Royal Belgian Mint and on behalf of the Belgian Finance Ministry. For the first time in Belgian numismatics, the production of collector coins includes a multi-view striking technique, which is applied to these coins. The results produce different images which are visible when the coin is tilted in two angles. The first train route between Brussels and Mechelen is visible, just as the names of the three locomotives from the first train ride and the current Belgian railway system. On the foreground of the coin, the likeness of the locomotive Le Belge appears to ride out of the coin. The depiction of Le Belge and the outline of Belgium is surrounded by railway tracks and text which reads in English First train on European Mainland. The commemorative years 1835 2020 are placed just to the left of the locomotive.
The reverse side, designed by Luc Luycx, includes an EU map partially encircled with the words BELGIE – BELGIQUE – BELGIEN, representing the three official languages of Belgium. The denomination of 5 EURO is seen on the left half along with the year of issue, the Royal Dutch mintmark, and the privy mark of the Royal Belgian mintmaster.
|Five euro||.925 Silver||14.6 g||30 mm||Proof||5,000|
Each coin is presented in a custom window case allowing the viewing and display of both sides of the coin and is accompanied by a numbered certificate of authenticity. For additional information about this coin and others available from the Royal Mint of Belgium, please visit their website.