Tag Archives: 1919

1919 Belgian Congo 5 Centime

This coin is in F-12 to F-16. In other words, I’d grade it ‘Fine”.

It is donut shaped (the hole is original to the mint). The obverse shows a radiant 5-sided star around the hole, with the legend “5 C.” split between the 12:00 point of the star. The date is at 6:00, and a cluster of three 5-sided stars is at 4:00 and 8:00.

On the reverse, the 5 centime shows another 5-pointed star formed by the letters “A” topped with a crown. There’s a crenalated ring around the star. In the outer register formed by the crenelations, the legend reads “Belgisch-Congo * Congo Belge”.

Belgian Congo 5 Centime 1919 Obverse

Belgian Congo 5 Centime 1919 Obverse

Belgian Congo 5 Centime 1919 Reverse

Belgian Congo 5 Centime 1919 Reverse

Identification code: Congo Republic KM-17

Date: 1919

Mint Mark: n/a

Mintage: 6,850,000

Country of origin: Belgium

Composition: Copper-Nickel

Size: 19 mm

Weight: unknown

Other details: This coin comes from a very dark chapter of history. The King of Belgium ran the Congo as his personal fiefdom from 1878 to 1910. He set things up so that he owned both a country and a business that occupied the country so that he could do whatever he wanted.

Joseph Conrad’s novel (“Heart of Darkness”) did a lot to expose the abuses, and so did Conan Arthur Doyle’s “The Crime In The Congo”. Yet today, very few people know the story of what went on well-into the 20th century. The Belgian Free State was anything but; it was ruled by extreme cruelty.

Natives of the Congo were robbed, enslaved, and pushed into forced labor. Those who failed to work hard enough had their hands and feet amputated. This was slavery that wouldn’t have been accepted in the 17th century, and it was made worse by the “enlightened” propaganda that the King used to cloak his actions. While Belgian do-gooders raised money to help ‘develop’ the Congo, the King funneled the money into a reign of terror.

The Belgian colony was 75 times larger than Belgium itself. It is mind boggling that such a small group of people were able to control the vast area for almost a century. Strangest of all, Belgium tried to hang onto the most lucrative parts of the country after granting independence. But, that story is for another day (when I upload pictures of my coins from Katanga).

Estimated Value: $0.50-$1

US Philippines 1919 Centavo from San Francisco

This coin is in Very Fine to Extremely Fine condition. I grade it a conservative VF30.

On the obverse, a bare chested Filipino man is shown sitting next to the forge of freedom. The blacksmith is built like Adonis – with huge muscles  flexed in a spreadeagled pose. His elbow is on the forge, a Thor-like hammer is dangling from his right hand, and his left hand is on his left knee. The guy is staring off into the distance at  Mt. Mayon, an active volcano with smoke billowing from the crater. On the upper edge of the coin is the denomination “One Centavo” and on the lower perimeter is the word “Filipinas”. The engraver was Melecio Figueroa.

The reverse design features an eagle perched on a shield with a two register shield. The upper register shows 13 5-sided stars in two rows. The lower register shows 13 vertical bars with stripes and solid bars alternating. This is the Seal of the US Philippine Territories (adopted in 1903). At the upper rim are the words “United States of America” and at the bottom is the year of issue. The mint mark is to the left of the date, below the dot.

US Philippines 1 Centavo 1919 S Reverse

US Philippines 1 Centavo 1919 S Reverse

US Philippines 1 Centavo 1919 S Obverse

US Philippines 1 Centavo 1919 S Obverse

Identification code: Philippines KM-163 (1903-1936)

Date: 1919

Mint Mark: S (San Francisco)

Mintage: 4,540,000

Country of origin: United States (US Philippines Territory)

Composition: Bronze (95% copper, 4% tin, 1% zinc)

Size: 23mm

Weight: 5.18g

Other details: There is a typo in the 2010 RedBook : instead of 454,000 of these, there were 4,540,000 minted. It isn’t exactly common, but it isn’t vanishingly rare either.

Estimated Value: $3-6 in VF30