Due to the convoluted history of Belgium, and the many different countries that tried to assimilate it, the Gold Coins actually produced in Belgium are relatively limited in variety.
The word ‘Belgium’ comes from the Roman province Gallia Belgica, in the northernmost part of Gaul. Prior to the Roman invasion in 100 BC, the area was occupied by the Belgae, a blend of Celtic and Germanic people, noted for their fierce but ultimately unsuccessful opposition to the Roman invasion.
Following the death of Charlemagne, the treaty of Verdun in 843 called for Europe to be carved up for the benefit of his three sons and over the next thousand years or so its control passed between Burgundy, France, Spain, and Austria to finally be reunited with Holland (Netherlands) at the congress of Vienna in 1815.
In 1830 Belgium gained its independence under the constitutional monarch Leopold I. Over time there have been so many battles fought in this area between the European powers, it was nick-named the “cockfighting arena of Europe,” a notion reinforced by both World Wars.
Currently, Belgium is a founding member of the European Union and is home to the European Union headquarters in Brussels. The country maintains two distinct north and south regions with different languages and qualities. The north language is Flemish, much like Dutch and in the south French is spoken.
From the middle of the 19th century, the Kingdom of Belgium was ruled by the monarch Leopold II, who reigned from 1865 to 1909. Today he bears the title of the “Builder King” owing to the many new structures he had built in Brussels, Ostend and Antwerp. Leopold II is also remembered for employing the famous explorer Henry Morton Stanley in a bid to colonize the Congo in 1876.
The Belgium Franc is found in five denominations, 10, 20, 25, 40, and 50 Francs.
The obverse (front) side displays the image of Leopold II looking to the right as do many of the European gold coins, with the French inscription “LEOPOLD II ROI DES BELGES” interpreted “Leopold II, King of the Belgians.” Directly beneath the image is the engraver, Leopold Wiener’s, initials L W followed by the mint date. Parenthetically, the same artist did the engraving for the previous monarch and happened to misspell his own name and that may be the reason he was thereafter limited to his initials.
The reverse (back) of the coin exhibits a Belgian coat of arms displaying a lion within a circular motif draped with an ermine cape beneath a crown. The inscription reads: “L’UNION FAIT LA FORCE” which is interpreted “The Union Makes Strength.” Around the bottom beneath the coat of arms is the denomination.
Around the edge is the phrase “DIEU PROTEGE LA BELGIQUE” which is interpreted “God Protects The Belgium.”
The Belgian 20 Franc contains the same weight and gold content as the Swiss 20 Franc, the French 20 Franc and the Italian 20 Lire gold coins.