Updated: Dec 15, 2021
This small WWI Belgian coin represented the 1st denomination coin of the Franc (WWI Occupation). Early in the war, Imperial Germany (1871–1918) invaded neutral Belgium. In an effort to gain an advantage against the French Republic (1870–1940). The invasion began on 4 August 1914 and ended in 31 October 1914.
During the occupation, Germany introduced a system of zinc coins. Which lasted till the war's end, in 1918. Zinc was chosen due to it being less valuable for the war effort. Although unfortunately for collectors, this metal is prone to corrosion. With the exception of the 50 Centimes coin (1918), all coins were issued from 1915-1918.
The 5 Centimes coin is a smooth-rim design made of zinc and weighs 2.5 g. Its dimensions are 19 mm (0.748 in) wide and 1.61 mm (0.063 in) thick. Making it similar to a US Penny (19.05 mm/0.750 in), in size. Notably it weights the same as a modern (post-1982) US Penny. Which are made from a copper-plated zinc core.
The observe features the coin's "5 Cent" face value, surrounded by a "toothed" ring. Outside this ring is a second ring of wrap-around text. It lists the coin's nation ("BELGIQUE/BELGIE") and mint date "1916". Notably "BELGIQUE" represents the French name, while "BELGIE" is Flemish.
This bilingual name has significant historical importance. As Belgium since it's inception has been linguistically split. A product of Belgian Revolution, which lead to the succession of the Netherlands' southern providences. Which was supported by the short-lived Kingdom of France (1830-1848).
The people of Belgium are split between 2 ethnic identities. The Flemish, who speak the Flemish Dutch dialect. And the Walloons, who speak a dialect known as Belgian French. During the, occupation the Imperial German Army unsuccessful attempted to exploit this division.
The reverse depicts the Leo Belgicus, also known as the Belgian Lion. A representation of the Belgian Coat of Arms. Similar to the reverse, this lion is surrounded by a "toothed" ring. The outside of this ring is 8-point "rounded cog" pattern.
Alternating floral patterns are located inside and outside its outline. Nearby along the coin's inner rim are worn "teeth". Which can be found on both observe and reverse sides of the coin. Originally these "teeth" were used to provide extra grip.
Occupation Coin Gallery (WWI Series)
(Gallery contains only coins within the database)
"Cents" is short for Centimes, a Francophone term for 1/100th of a currency.
The occupation 5 cent was preceded by separate French/Dutch texted copper coins.
Some pre-war Belgian coins designs were continued after WWI's end.
Belgian occupation coins were produced by the Royal Mint of Belgium, Brussels.
Zinc was by Imperial German coins from 1916-1918, due to wartime demand.
The Leo Belgicus was historically used to depict a map of the "Low Countries".
The Low Countries include the Netherlands, Luxembourg, and Belgium.
Unlike most metals, moisture causes zinc to slowly corrode as opposed to rust.