World Coins

Wartime folk art appears on Dutch silver coin

A carved Netherlands silver 2.5-guilder coin from World War II celebrating Dutch Queen Wilhelmina in exile is offered in an April 12 auction.

Images courtesy of Karel de Geus.

Several numismatic relics of World War II coming to auction on April 12 are examples of Dutch resistance against the Nazi occupation of the Netherlands.

Queen Wilhelmina and the royal family fled to safety aboard a British destroyer to the United Kingdom after German forces swept across the border on May 10, 1940.

Nazis tried to remove the image of Wilhelmina from public life but, as a small act of defiance, Dutch residents turned coins depicting the exiled ruler into jewelry and, in some cases, created numismatic folk art: silver circulation coins from the era feature carvings from an unknown artist or artists.

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In those days, silver was scarce and expensive, according to auction firm Karel de Geus, which offers multiple examples of such pieces in its April auction.

These objets d’art usually were carved to show the queen wearing a Dutch army helmet, with the normal legend on the coin modified. Instead of WILHELMINA KONINGIN DER NEDERLANDEN (or Wilhelmina, Queen of the Netherlands) — they usually read WILHELMINA IN LONDEN, or sometimes LONDON, a reference to the English hosting the Dutch royal family.

One such example, a 2.5-guilder or Rijksdaalder host coin dated 1930, shows the queen wearing a helmet. In Very Fine condition, the piece has an opening bid of €50 (about $57).

For more information about the auction, visit the firm's website.

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