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Historical overview


Handbook - Overview of the Dutch coins from 1795-2001

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Towards the end of the 18th century, public opinion increasingly turned against the nobility and the ruling classes all over Europe. In the Netherlands, this manifested itself between 1783 and 1787 in the civil war between the Patriots and the Orangists. With the aid of Frederick William II of Prussia, power was restored to the stadtholder William V in 1787, but not for long.

The French Revolution began just two years later in 1789, and the key people in power were keen for the revolution to spread throughout the whole of Europe. The French Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ch. Fr. Lebrun, negotiated with several representatives of the Patriots about the national borders and the division of the territories to be conquered. On 1 February 1793, France declared war on King George III of England and the Dutch stadtholder William V.

In the autumn of 1794, a French army led by General Pichegru invaded the Netherlands. After numerous victories by the French, stadtholder William V fled to England on 18 January 1795. The Batavian Republic was proclaimed the very next day, 19 January 1795, and the Republic of the Seven United Netherlands ceased to exist. The new republic formed an alliance with France on 16 May 1795, with the French Republic recognising the Batavian Republic as a free and independent state and abolishing the office of stadtholder.

However, the Batavian Republic paid a high price for the privilege; it had to pay one hundred million guilders for ‘liberation’, maintain a 25,000-strong army of occupation and extend a loan to the French. Maastricht, Venlo and Zeelandic Flanders became French territories. The port of Vlissingen was forced to open to French ships.

The Batavian Republic moved towards more centralised government and uniform systems of justice, currency, weights & measures and taxation.

The coins from this period remained the same provincial types that people had been used to for hundreds of years. The (Latin) inscriptions were not changed immediately, and continued to refer to the old situation of provinces and districts. Incidentally, they continued to be minted on the same old screw presses, and it is not uncommon to come across slightly oval specimens.

The plans to establish a central mint also failed to get off the ground for some time and coins continued to be struck in the existing provincial mints dating from the time of the Republic of the Seven United Netherlands, namely in Harderwijk for Gelderland, in Dordrecht, Enkhuizen and Hoorn for Holland, in Enkhuizen for West-Friesland, in Middelburg for Zeeland, in the city of Utrecht for Utrecht province and in Kampen for Overijssel.

Various designs were actually produced for new coins, and a number of the sketches have been preserved to this day in the National Numismatic Collection (NNC) of De Nederlandsche Bank (DNB). Dies for them were almost never made, however, and only one design actually resulted in a number of proof coins being struck. (see LSch.113 t/m 117).