Belgium is highly urbanized and the main cities are Brussels, Antwerp, Ghent, Bruges, Liege, Leuven, Dinant, Mechelen, Tournai, Mons, and Sint-Truiden. Public transport is fast and not too expensive in this small country. The infrastructure supports getting around in a Cycle. Mechelen, a small medieval city is ideal as a base with proximity to a train station that connects to everywhere and a youth hostel adjacent to it. May to September are considered peak season for visitors. Must see sights abound in Belgium Royal Museum of Fine Art in Antwerp, Waterloo, The Diamond Museum of Antwerp, The Groeninge Museum in Flanders is but a starting point. Besides chocolate, Belgium is renowned the world over for its beer, waffles and French fries.
|Resource||ISBN or ASIN||Best Price||Description|
|Belgium and Luxembourg Eyewitness Travel Guides||978-0756653712||$17||Packed with excellent photographs, illustrations, maps. Restaurants, Castles, Museums, Hotels, Art Galleries, Architecture, History, Driving and Walking Tours, and Beer sections.|
|Brussels Eyewitness Travel Guides||978-0756661069||$15||Good overall guide to the country, not just Brussels!|
|Belgium – Culture Smart!: a quick guide to customs and etiquette||978-1857333220||$10||Excellent sections on land and culture, values and attitudes, festivals and customs, entertainment, travel, business, and communicating.|
|A Tall Man in a Low Land: Some Time Among the Belgians by Harry Pearson||978-0349112060||$11||Great introduction to Belgian culture in an interesting and funny way.|
|Belgium and Luxembourg Map by Michelin||978-2067123007||$11||Not laminated, but the content is good.|
|Belgium Grounded Adapter Plug – GUB||B001FD5CPE||$8|
Belgium gained independence from the United Kingdom of the Netherlands (1815 to 1830) following the Belgian revolution of 1830. Since then, Belgium has been a constitutional monarchy and parliamentary democracy. The first stamps of Belgium were released in 1849 and depict a portrait of King Leopold I. The issues until 1867 all show portraits of King Leopold I in five different designs. Most of these stamps (Scott #1 to #22) are very valuable in MNH with a value range between $150 (Scott #18 10c slate) and $4000 (Scott #8 40c car rose). Used copies can be had for much lower with the lowest (Scott #18 and #19) selling for the $2 range and the highest (Scott #5 40c carmine rose) going for around $500. Following the 34-year reign of Leopold I, a coat of arms theme appeared in the period from 1866 to 1867. The set of four stamps (Scott #23 to #26b) are also very valuable with catalog values in the $600 range for MNH and around half that for used – these were used only as newspaper stamps and for printed matter and that accounts for the rarity. Counterfeits exist and so collectors need to be careful when trying to acquire this set. The issue was promptly followed by the monarch theme with issues of different designs of Leopold II portraits.
The 20-year period from 1893 to 1913 saw more issues primarily in the monarch theme with King Albert I debuting in 1912 (Scott #103 to #107). The set is very affordable at less than $2 for MNH or used. One distinct characteristic of the issues during this period is a label attachment to the bottom. The issues with label attached are generally more valuable than their “missing label” counterparts. Other themes during the period include:
- The Arms of Antwerp set of three stamps (Scott #76 to #78) released in 1894. It catalogs for around $10 MNH and about half that for used.
- The Saint Michael and Satan set of three stamps (Scott #79 to #81) released between 1896 and 1897. This set also catalogs for around $10 MNH and less than half that for used.
- The Lion of Belgium theme of 1912 released as part of a long set of eleven stamps (Scott #92 to #102). The lower denominations of this set are in this theme while the higher denominations show a portrait of King Albert I. The set is valuable at around $140 for MNH and less than half that for used.
- Following World War II, industry became a common theme on Belgian stamps. In this theme, one significant issue is the set of twelve stamps (Scott #374 to #385) in six different designs released in 1948. The set catalogs for around $50 MNH and less than $10 for used. The designs were – chemical industry, industrial arts, agriculture, textile industry, communications center, and iron manufacture.
- A set of twelve stamps released on May 14, 1952 during the UPU Congress Meeting in Brussels depicting barons, counts, and princes. The set (Scott #435 to #445 and B514 – Beaulieu Castle) is very expensive at around $300 for MNH and $200 for used.
- Belgium issued many stamps over the years in the Stamp Collecting theme with a focus on youth philately. The first such issue was a stamp released on October 1, 1960 showing two children examining a stamp using tongs with the picture of a globe in the foreground. The issue comes attached with a horizontal label with a post horn design. The stamp is inexpensive and can be had for a few cents MNH or used. Since then, Belgium issued a stamp in the same theme every year in October until 1995 when it became less frequent. Most of these stamps are inexpensive and so theme is a good collecting area, especially for budding philatelists.
- A set of five stamps issued on June 22 1974 depicting historic buildings and monuments of Belgium. The set (Scott #871 to #875) is affordable at around $2 for MNH or used. The designs were Planetarium of Brussels, Pillory of Braine-le-Chateau (16th century), Soleilmont Abbey Ruins (Abbey of Trappist nuns founded in the 11th century), and Belfry of Bruges (13th Century).
- A set of four stamps issued on May 6 1985 depicting locomotives to mark the year of public transportation. The set and a souvenir sheet (Scott #1194 to #1198) catalogs for less than $10 MNH or used. The designs were Steam Tram Locomotive (1896), Locomotive Elephant and Tender (1835), Tank Engine (1935), and Electric Locomotive (1975).
- A beautiful sheet of nine stamps issued November 18, 1996 to mark Christmas and New Year. The colorful set (Scott #1634a-i) catalogs for around $10 MNH and a little less for used.
The first coins of Belgium were Copper Centimes issued in 1832. Early Belgian coins are inscribed in Dutch, French or both while modern coins have Latin or German inscriptions. Belgium has issued a number of gold coins with the first ones appearing in 1831. They also issued a number of ECU (European Currency Unit) Gold and Silver coins in the 1980s and 1990s.
Numismatic items of Belgium include:
|Coins||$1 and up||Common coins in UNC start around $1. 19th century coins in VF start around $10. Low mintage silver proofs start around $50. Recent Euro Rolls, 19th century certified and slabbed coins graded over MS60, etc start around $100. Gold coins go well into the 100s.|
|Paper Money||$3 and up||Banknotes from the 40s and 50s in VF start around $3. UNCs from the WW periods start around $25. Rare dates start into the 100s.|
Flemish paintings from early times are very dear and highly collectible. Handmade Belgian lace, tapestries and delicate needlework are all highly prized.
|Jewelry||$200 and up||Loose diamonds are on the market starting around $200. Certified diamond jewelry and other material from Antwerp are collectible.|
|Ceramics||$20 and Up||Single Delft pieces start around $20. Signed Majolica Vases go well into the 100s.|
|Antiques||$5 and up||original 19th century maps start around $5, photo prints from the same period a little more, wooden carved furniture into the 100s, and tapestry into the 1000s.|
|Art||Varies||Original works from well known artists like Emile Claus, Eugene Verboeckhoven, Jean Pierre Ghysels, M. Werner, August Fisher, Alfred Brux, Tony Mafia, and propaganda posters from the early 20th century fetch into the 1000s.|
Last Updated: 12/2015.