World of Coins

Modern coins, pseudo coins and trade tokens of other continents => Sub-Saharan Africa => Central Africa => Topic started by: bart on March 21, 2008, 11:20:31 PM

Title: Congo Free State 50 centimes
Post by: bart on March 21, 2008, 11:20:31 PM
I was very surprised to find this coin on a flea market. It is a classical colonial coin, with the effigy of Leopold II of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha, second king of the Belgians. It is also a very colonial coin: it shows a "native" shield, as a European should make it. There is nothing really native on this coin. Despite the bloody history it stands for, I like the European design.
This is only the smallest of a series of 4 silver coins (50 centimes, 1 franc, 2 and 5 francs), but I am already glad I can own this one.

Bart
Title: Congo Free State 50 Centimes.
Post by: BC Numismatics on March 22, 2008, 11:58:02 AM
Bart,
  That is a very historic coin,albeit one with a notorious history behind it,as the Congo Free State was the private possession of King Leopold II right up until 1908,when he was forced to cede it to Belgium.

Here's an article; http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Congo_Free_State .

Aidan.
Title: Re: Congo Free State 50 centimes
Post by: Figleaf on March 24, 2008, 12:11:01 PM
The seller may have only given it a glance and thought it was Belgian. That still makes a good story.

I also like the background. As Aidan notes, the king was held responsible for the brutal and murderous behaviour of the "force publique", even though he never set foot in the colony and he may not have known in the beginning and certainly acted little and too late when the scandal became public. The point is, being in charge (running the Congo Free State as a private property), he was responsible from the beginning, whether he knew or not.

The lesson was lost on Nazi leaders who claimed not to have known what was happening in concentration camps as on Tutsi whose "only crime" was to have called for the death of all Hutus in public, inflammatory speeches. Even today, there are politicians and managers who believe that by blaming their underlings they escape responsibility. The coin makes a stark point hat it's not so. Power doesn't come without responsibility.

Peter
Title: Re: Congo Free State 50 centimes
Post by: bart on March 24, 2008, 03:18:20 PM
About Leopold II: how can any ruler claim he's not responsible for the brutal and murderous behaviour of his 'administration force' when he's the first to benefit from their actions . It is known Leopold II acquired an enormous fortune out of his colony.
Even after he ceded the Free State to Belgium, he kept an enormous private "Crown Domain" to keep his income at level.

Bart