The Stelling van Amsterdam (Defence Line of Amsterdam) is a complete ring of fortifications extending more than 135 km around the city of Amsterdam and is the only example of a fortification based on the principle of controlling local water bodies. Built between 1883 and 1920, a ring of 45 forts, along with dikes, sluices and canals, was designed to repel and protect against a land invasion by another European power.
Spread apart in a ring, with distances not exceeding 3.5 km between them, the forts used a combination of firepower and selective flooding for defence. It was all for naught however, as the advent of airpower after the First World War made fortifications like these obsolete. Decommissioned in 1963, the fort network never saw combat service. The Nazi forces, using paratroopers and superior forces, conquered the Netherlands in just four days in May 1940, although this was more a failure of the interwar governments attitude to its military strength, rather than a specific failing of the forts.
The Royal Dutch Mint is releasing a new coin range that showcases this fascinating series of fortifications. An image of the key Ossenmarkt fort takes pride of place and it’s surrounded by three rings of inscriptions that list out the others in the network. The denomination is inscribed here, along with a water symbol to represent the complex, and a pair of mintmarks. Inscriptions on the obverse are limited to the issuer and there’s a quite dynamic looking layout of kings effigy and emblem – a nice change from the usual British effigy layout.
Two precious metal variants are available. A half-ounce sterling silver coin with a 5,500 mintage is the primary one. Retailing for €49.95, it comes mounted to an informative gatefold card. The gold coin (90% fineness) is smaller at 6.72 grams, but has basically the same design. Only 1,000 of these €389.95 coins will be minted and they’re supplied in a wooden box. All will ship from 07 December, along with a €12.50 base-metal version with a 15,000 mintage.