The Kingdom of Holland First Coin


To our present knowledge, the following pewter (Tin) trial strike is a prototype for the silver 50 stuivers dated 1807 and minted at just 300 examples. It features the first adopted portrait of King Louis-Napoleon Bonaparte who had rejected previous patterns due to a lack of resemblance. The reverse features the non-approved ‘KONING RIK VAN HOLLAND’ legend which was replaced by the ‘KONINGRIJK HOLLAND’ legend of the adopted 50 Stuivers coin.

The New Kingdom of Holland

Napoleon’s expansion through Europe saw the appointment of his family to the thrones of the new territories and Holland was no exception. In 1806, Louis-Napoleon Bonaparte reluctantly accepted his imposed proclamation, whereby the Batavian Republic was transformed into the Kingdom of Holland. The new King Louis-Napoleon is cited as saying: “I will reign in Holland because the population desires it and your Majesty (Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte) orders it.” Despite his initial reticence to ascend to the throne, King Louis-Napoleon sincerely appreciated Holland but a bit too much for Napoleon’s taste, who did not consider him firm enough.

Coinage Act

The 37th Article of the new Dutch constitution stipulated that coins would be struck with the effigy of the new king. The 50 Stuivers dated 1807 was thus the very first coin approved for the new Kingdom of Holland even though it was never officially placed in circulation. Only 300 pieces were minted and it is reported that King Louis-Napoleon personally distributed a coin to each of the ladies present during the 1808 Royal New Year’s Ball. The present pewter specimen is therefore the prototype for the new coinage.

Fabrication and Engravers

From the beginning, the mint had great difficulties creating dies for the new coinage. In his book, the ‘Cents Ans de Numismatique Francaise 1789-1889’ (One Hundred Years of French Numismatics 1789-1889), DEWAMIN states that despite the talents of the Dutch engraver J.G. HOLTZHEY, the King rejected the first trial coins bearing his effigy due to a lack of resemblance. New trial pieces were again refused because the ‘Field Marshall Batons’ of the reverse shield design probably alluded to King Louis-Napoleon’s subordination to his elder brother, the Emperor Napoleon.

Following the sudden death of the engraver Holtzhey at the age of 81 years old, the French engraver GEORGE was urgently appointed by the Paris Mint. George quickly created a new portrait prototype. This time King Louis-Napoleon approved his portrait but the present reverse legend: “KONING - RIK - VAN - HOLLAND” was incorrect. George then paired his adopted obverse portrait with the corrected reverse legend thus creating the Kingdom of Holland’s first coin, the 50 stuivers of 1807.


The only confirmed examples of this exceedingly rare non-approved reverse design are: 1 Tin Foil pattern struck on thick paper presently in the Dutch Royal Money Museum (Holland), 1 Bronze pattern from the Prince d’Essling Collection (1927, France), 1 Bronze pattern listed in ‘Nederlandse Munten 1795 – 1945’ J. Schulman. 1946, 1 Bronze Pattern listed in the Victor Guilloteau, French coin reference book ‘Monnaies Françaises – 1943’ and 1 Copper Pattern sold in the King Farouk of Egypt, The Palace Collection (1954, Egypt).
Present research sources leads us to believe that the reported bronze patterns and the King Farouk of Egypt copper pattern could be the same specimen (but more evidence is needed to support this).
However the pewter/tin prototype is probably unique having remained unreported and unpublished since its creation in 1807 which could indicate that it might have been the engraver George’s personal specimen.

Reference Works:

Biographical Dictionary of Medallists – Forrer. 1902-1930.
Cent Ans de Numismatique Francaise de 1789 à 1889 - Dewamin E. Reedition 1989.
Histoire Monetaire et Numismatique Contemporaine 1790-1967 – Mazard. Tome II 1848-1967.
Histoire Numismatique du Royaume de Hollande - Nahuys - Amsterdam 1858.
Krause et Mischler – Standard Catalogue Of World Coins. 1800-1900.
La Monnaie en Circulation en France sous Napoleon – Desrousseaux - Editions Chevaux-Légers. 2012.
Les Monnaies Napoleoniennes 1795-1815. Editions Monnaies d’Antan. 2010.
Monnaies Francaises (1670-1942) - Victor Guilloteau. 1943.
Monnaies Francaises – Victor GADOURY – 1789 -1989- Spécial Bi-centenaire. 1989.
Monnaies Francaises et Napoleonides 1799-1815 – Les Collections Monetaires : Direction des Monnaies et Médailles - Musée de La Monnaie – Jean Indrigo, Paris 1992.
Nederlandse Munten 1795 – 1945. J. Schulman. 1946.
Répertoire des Monnaies Napoleonides (Tome 2) – De Mey & Poindessault – Brussels & Paris. 1971.

Reference Sale Catalogues and Collections:

Collection Prince d’Essling. 1927.
Monnaies Francaises et Napoleonides 1799-1815 – Les Collections Monetaires : Direction des Monnaies et Médailles - Musée de La Monnaie – Jean Indrigo, Paris 1992.
The Palace Collection of Egypt – (King Farouk – Sotheby & Co. Sale) – 1954
Royal Dutch Money Museum (Holland)