Tag Archives: 1921

1921 Belgian Congo 5 Centime

This coin is in F12 to VF20 shape. I’d give it a conservative F16.

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 1921 Obverse

Belgian Congo 5 Centime 1921 Obverse

Belgian Congo 5 Centime 1921 Reverse

Belgian Congo 5 Centime 1921 Reverse

Identification code: Congo Republic KM-17

Date: 1921

Mint Mark: n/a

Mintage: 17,260,000

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: $0.25-0.75