The Netherlands: Defense line of Amsterdam features on latest Dutch UNESCO sites series of collector coins

Background photo by P.J. L Laurens.

The Royal Dutch Mint have released (21st November) the latest gold and silver coins in its popular Dutch UNESCO series highlighting the many locations and landmarks recognised as UNESCO Heritage Sites in the Netherlands. This year’s coin features the Defense Line of Amsterdam, which is a 135-kilometre (83-mile) defense line surrounding the greater perimeter of Amsterdam. It was built between 1880 and 1914; the army, the government, and the Dutch sovereign could withdraw within this secure ring around the greater city in the event of an attack on the Netherlands. The Defense Line today consists of 42 forts and a large number of batteries, dikes, and locks at a distance of 15–20 kilometres (9–11 miles) from each fort.

The Defense Line of Amsterdam is a fine example of Dutch hydraulic engineering ingenuity with a clever system where the land around the line could be submerged under water if necessary. This submersion would create a pond around the targeted area, not deep enough for ships, but also too deep for man and horse, thus serving as an effective deterrent and making an enemy invasion of the capital impossible. However, even before the Defense Line was completed, it had already been made obsolete by the rise of the airplane and its use as an effective weapon during the First World War. This new mode of waging war deprived the line of its usefulness as a defense for the city and the home of the Dutch sovereign.

The Defense Line of Amsterdam was brought into a state of defense during the two world wars, although there was no need to actually fight on the forts (since it was a defense line made for an attack by enemies over land). As airplanes were deployed during the First World War and the value of the Defense Line was drastically reduced, a large number of these valuable forts were assigned new functions.

For instance, the Fort at the Ossenmarkt was built to defend both the canal locks of the Amsterdam-Hilversum railway and the bridge over the Vecht. As a consequence, the Fort at the Ossenmarkt was restored some time ago. At the entrance, the collection mechanism of the former bridge is still present, but the site, which is now a park, houses a garden shop, and the wooden artillery shed built in 1877 is now used as an exhibition space. In addition, a music school, various associations, and business premises are now located in the Fort at the Ossenmarkt.

The new coins are designed by Kianoosh Motallebi and depict the fort on the Ossenmarkt as the central theme. The artist chose this fortification because of its complementary form in relation to the coin. The remaining 41 forts of the Defense Line are mentioned along the edge of the coin. The circle with the names represents the 135-kilometer-long line of defense.

The obverse side of the coin, which was introduced to this series in 2015, carries a stylized portrait of King Willem-Alexander, along with a miniature silhouette profile. A legend is placed around the upper-right edge of the coin. A medal and crown are found at the bottom of the design, slightly to the right. The image of the medal includes a portion of the royal house’s motto, JE MAINTRENDAI. Both gold and silver coins share the same designs.

Denom. Metal Weight Diameter Quality Maximum Mintage
€5 Plated copper 10.5 g 29 mm Uncirculated 46,500
€5 Plated copper 10.5 g 29 mm Brilliant Unc. 15,000
€5 .925 Silver 15.5 g 33 mm Proof 5,500
€10 .900 Gold 6.72 g 22.5 mm Proof 1,000

The gold version of the Dutch UNESCO historical sites coin is presented in a custom-crafted wood case with certificate of authenticity.

The silver Proof version is presented in a colourful folder, and the coin is encapsulated to allow easy removal from the folder. The Brilliant Uncirculated and Uncirculated versions are encased in a coin-card, each with specific mintage limits. The €10 and €5 Defense Line of Amsterdam coins are the sixth issue in a 10-part Dutch World Heritage series begun in 2012. The series concludes in 2021. For additional information on these and additional coins offered by the Royal Dutch Mint, please visit their website. Orders are dispatched to European addresses only.

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  1. Ernesto says

    I have some Dutch coins but never was a big fan of having Royals on the obverse. I wish countries, would change their laws, & not make it mandatory to have the king or queen on the obverse. Talk about wasted space. Same issue that we have, in the USA, with our circulating coinage, using only Presidents 😞

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