After a span of 32 years, the design of the Dutch Gold Ducats is being given a new, historically accurate, and international image that reflects its role as the most important trade coin in history. The Dutch Coinage Act first included Ducats on August 4, 1586 and the first coins were struck in Holland soon after. The first Double Ducat came from the province of Friesland in 1612. The coins have had the same basic obverse of a standing knight accompanied by an ornate inscribed tablet on the reverse ever since. The only variations reflect artistic liberties taken by mint engravers.
The 2018 issues are offering a new interpretation based on the design of the engraver Johan Willem Marmé, who was the die cutter at the Utrecht Mint from 1763 to 1795. Marmé's present-day successors in Utrecht have taken his original design, characterized by a distinct helmet and accurately positioned, detailed buttons on the knight's outfit, and adapted it to the requirements of 21st century minting.
The 2018 issue is also the first of four annual issues that will focus on the ducats' international use over four centuries. The coins will use the points of the compass as a guide to explore the trade routes in which the Gold Ducats played an important role. The 2018 coin points north to the Baltics, where the grain trade in particular led to enormous profits for Dutch traders. The following years will direct attention to the East in 2019, South in 2020 and West in 2021.
Trade was essential for the food supply in the Netherlands and formed the main source of Amsterdam’s prosperity. The basis of the Dutch Golden Age was the grain trade with the Baltic states, also known as the mother of all trade. In the Middle Ages, the Dutch started transporting rye and wheat by ship from the areas surrounding the Baltic Sea. They sold it in Amsterdam and to other western European countries, benefiting from the price differences between the East and the West. The ships which sailed to the Baltics were often weighed down with roof tiles and bricks on their outward journey. The grain trade is symbolized on the reverse by a group of four corn ears and the letter “N” at the top pointing north. The scroll work around the tablet has been embellished this year with decorative acanthus leaves and shells.
SPECIFICATIONS PROOF GOLD DUCAT
Metal Weight Diameter
.983 gold 3.494 gm 21 mm
MORE FACTS FROM THE ROYAL DUTCH MINT
The Dutch Coinage Act first included ducats on 4 August 1586. They are still featured in it today as trade coins. The ducat is a gold coin which originally came from the Republic of Venice and was later also produced in the Netherlands. The Dutch Gold Ducat grew into one of the world’s most popular trade coins. Double and Single Gold Ducats are also being minted in 2018, helping to keep the memory of our rich trading past alive. The obverse of this coin shows a knight holding a sword in one hand and a bundle of arrows in the other. The reverse bears the motto ‘Concordia Res Parvae Crescunt’, Latin for ‘Small things flourish by concord’, but better known as ‘Unity makes Strength’.
Reliable weight and content meant a good reputation
The ducat has always been a strong currency. For centuries, ducats were an important means of payment for international trade. They had a good reputation as a result of their reliable weight and content and were gladly accepted in Scandinavia, Poland and Russia.
The Gold Ducats have looked the same for almost 400 years, apart from a few minor details and interim changes. Over the course of the centuries, for example, minor changes have been made to the knight’s outfit and the decorations on the reverse which were subject to ‘fashion’.
Ducats also exist in Silver
The Netherlands also had a Silver Ducat, which was in use from 1659 to 1816. As this was equivalent in value to the former Rijksdaalder (50 Stuivers), it soon became known by the same name.
Trade with the Baltic region
The success of the Netherlands in the Golden Age was largely due to our shipbuilders, entrepreneurial spirit and trade with the Baltic region. The grain trade formed the basis of the Golden Age. The Dutch built ships which were capable of transporting bulk goods quickly and cheaply. The trade with these so-called ‘fluyts’ in the Baltic region led to huge profits for the Netherlands.
A significant proportion of the trade in the Baltic region revolved around grain. In the Middle Ages, the Dutch started transporting rye and wheat by ship from the areas surrounding the Baltic Sea. They sold it in Amsterdam and to other western European countries, benefiting from the price differences between the East and the West. The ships which sailed to the Baltic Sea were often weighed down with roof tiles and bricks on their outward journey. These can still be seen in the cityscape of Gdańsk, for example.
Trade was essential for the food supply in the Netherlands and formed the main source of Amsterdam’s prosperity. The basis of our prosperity was the grain trade with the Baltic states, also known as the mother of all trade.
Imitations and forgeries
Imitations and forgeries of Dutch Gold Ducats are found all over the world. One striking fact about imitations and forgeries from northern Europe is that even the Russian and German governments minted imitations of the Dutch Gold Ducat. The coin was so popular in Russia, that until 1868, millions of them were minted in St Petersburg and were indistinguishable from those produced in Utrecht.
The Hamburg mint even produced Gold Ducats of the Dutch type for nearly a century. Looking at all the imitations and forgeries, we can see that over 30 issuing countries or authorities had ducats in circulation.