World Coins: 1958 World's Fair

Posted on 12/16/2014

The Belgium 1958 Silver 50 Francs was issued to commemorate the World's Fair.

In the 19th and 20th centuries, World’s Fairs were a way for people and countries to display new technology, products, and concepts to visitors from around the world. In the days before the Internet, such fairs represented important events with global implications. The 1958 World’s Fair in Brussels, Belgium was an important event. Held in the days before modern commemorative coins, only one coin was made to commemorate the fair.

The 1958 Brussels World’s Fair was the first major international expo held since World War II. The site chosen in northwest central Brussels, was the site for the 1935 World’s Fair. In 1955, Belgium decided to reallocate funds for an independence celebration to the 1958 World’s Fair development and activities instead. The World’s Fair ran from April 17 to October 19, 1958, and featured 44 participating countries while boasting an attendance of over 41 million people.

Belgium built the well known Atomium statue for the World’s Fair. Designed by Andre Waterkeyn and architects Andre and Jean Polak, it is comprised of nine stainless steel spheres connected to form the shape of a unit cell of iron crystal. Today it still stands as a monument, much like the Eiffel Tower in Paris.

By 1958, the Cold War was in full force. The USSR displayed a reproduction of Sputnik in a large building, which they folded up and returned to Russia after the Expo ended. The United States was later accused of stealing the Sputnik reproduction when it disappeared.

In regards to numismatics, one coin was issued in 1958 to commemorate the World’s Fair. The Belgium 1958 Silver 50 Francs featured the portrait of King Baudouin of Belgium on the obverse and a view of two World’s Fair pavilions on the reverse. These coins come in two different languages, Flemish and French. They also come in both medal and coin alignments, which puts a set (including varieties) at four coins. The total mintage for all varieties is 858,000. The coins are still affordable today, with circulated pieces trading close to bullion price and uncirculated pieces (depending on the variety and grade) trading between $50 to several hundred dollars or more.

Belgium 1958 Silver 50 Francs
Left to Right: Coin Box; Obverse; Reverse
Click images to enlarge.

Today, the Expo grounds and the famous Atomium still exist in Brussels. It is often a tourist destination for people traveling through Brussels. What better way to remember it than with a coin issued and sold at the World’s Fair.

Pictured below are the Expo sign and pavilions taken in 2012.

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