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500 Francs 1957, Belgian Congo

in Krause book Number: 34a
Years of issue: 01.10.1957
Signatures: Directeur: Firmin Peigneux (19 July 1948 – 11 April 1952), Le Gouverneur: Hector - Jules Martin (17.06.1954 – 3.10.1960)
Serie: Banque Centrale du Congo Belge et du Ruanda-Urundi
Specimen of: 10.09.1957
Material: Cotton fiber
Size (mm): 172 x 92
Printer: TDLR (Thomas de la Rue & Company), London

* All pictures marked magnify are increased partially by magnifying glass, the remaining open in full size by clicking on the image.

** The word "Specimen" is present only on some of electronic pictures, in accordance with banknote images publication rules of appropriate banks.

500 Francs 1957



500 Francs 1957



500 Francs 1957

500 Francs 1957 500 Francs 1957

Port of Matadi - view of the pier with harbor cranes and tugs.

Port Matadi is a river port on the Congo River.

Water depth:

Channel: 26-30 feet (7.1 - 9.1 meters)

Cargo berth: 26-30 feet (7.1 - 9.1) meters.

Average tide level: 1 foot.

Anchorage: 56-60 feet (17.1 - 18.2 meters).

Oil berth: 16-20 feet (4.9 - 6.1 meters).

Matadi is the chief sea port of the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the capital of the Kongo Central province, adjacent to the border with Angola. Matadi is situated on the left bank of the Congo River, 148 km. (92 mi.) from the mouth and 8 km. (5.0 mi.) below the last navigable point before the rapids that make the river impassable for a long stretch upriver. It was founded by Sir Henry Morton Stanley in 1879.

Matadi was founded by Sir Henry Morton Stanley in 1879. It was strategically important because it was the last navigable port going upstream on the Congo River; it became the furthest inland port in the Congo Free State. The construction of the Matadi–Kinshasa Railway (built between 1890 and 1898) made it possible to transport goods from deeper within Congo's interior to the port of Matadi, stimulating the city to become an important trading center. Portuguese and French West-African commercial interests influenced the city's architecture and urban design, which borrowed from the neighboring colonies in Angola and the Congo-Brazzaville.

The word Matadi means stone in the local Kikongo language. The town is built on steep hills. A local saying is that to live in Matadi, you must know the verbs "to go up", "to go down", and "to sweat". Upstream is a series of caves known as the "rock of Diogo Cão", after graffiti carved by the Portuguese explorer in 1485 marking the limit of his travels up the Congo River.

The mouth of the Congo forms one of Africa's largest harbours. In addition to Matadi, which is the furthest upriver, three ports are located within it, the others being Boma and Banana in DR Congo and Soyo in Angola. Matadi serves as a major import and export point for the whole nation. Chief exports are coffee and timber. The state fishing company "Pemarza" uses the port to supply fish to Kinshasa. Tshimpi Airport is nearby but is reportedly inactive because of continued warfare.

Matadi Bridge, a suspension bridge 722 meters long with a main span of 520 m., built in 1983, crosses the river just south of Matadi, carrying the main road linking Kinshasa to the coast. After passing through Matadi and over the bridge, it continues to Boma, Muanda and Banana. Although built as a mixed rail and road bridge, no rail line is now operating over the bridge. Matadi is the port railhead for the 366 km long Matadi-Kinshasa Railway, constructed to bypass the rapids on the river upstream. A monument to the builders of the railway stands on a nearby hill.

locomotive locomotive locomotive locomotive

Many thanks to Iris Heiremans, employee of the Railway Museum in Brussels, Belgium for her help in identifying the locomotive on the banknote!

Right, on banknote, is Diesel-electric locomotives of "l'OTRACO" company - CV 1400, manufactured by "S. A. BAUME & MARPENT".

I translated some text from the first page of the booklet:

"S. A. BAUME & MARPENT recently supplied a series of 8 Diesel-electric locomotives for "l'OTRACO" company in the Belgian Congo.

These powerful machines, designed and built at the Morlanwelz factories, in collaboration with "Société d'Electricité et de Mécanique" from

Gent, Belgium and "General Electric Company", USA.


The Locos should ensure, successfully, both in single units and double units, passenger and freight traffic on the Matadi-Léopoldville line.

Before going through some structural details, it is useful to present the main characteristics of these locomotives:

- Co-Co type.

- track 1 m. 067.

- weight in running order 91 tonn.

- traction force one-hourly speed 14,000 kg.

- continuous traction force 13,000 kg.

- maximum speed 80 km/h."

Below, on the left, there is a red star in a green socket. Most likely, the star is a legacy of the coat of arms of the Belgian Congo, where it was golden and symbolized hope that illuminates African darkness.


500 Francs 1957

Frame composed of geometric patterns and guilloche shapes with the value "500" printed on a Congolese star in the upper right corner. On the right, the watermark and the value in Dutch printed on a red-orange Congolese star. In the center, a man in his pirogue filled with local products sails along a river. (

The Congo River (Kongo: Nzâdi Kôngo, French: Congo fleuve, Portuguese: Rio Congo), formerly also known as the Zaire River, is the second longest river in Africa, shorter only than the Nile, as well as the second largest river in the world by discharge volume, following only the Amazon. It is also the world's deepest recorded river, with measured depths in excess of 220 m (720 ft.). The Congo-Lualaba-Chambeshi River system has an overall length of 4,700 km. (2,900 mi.), which makes it the world's ninth-longest river. The Chambeshi is a tributary of the Lualaba River, and Lualaba is the name of the Congo River upstream of Boyoma Falls, extending for 1,800 km (1,120 mi).

Measured along with the Lualaba, the main tributary, the Congo River has a total length of 4,370 km.(2,715 mi.). It is the only major river to cross the equator twice. The Congo Basin has a total area of about 4,000,000 km2 (1,500,000 sq. mi.), or 13% of the entire African landmass.

The name Congo/Kongo river originates from the Kingdom of Kongo once located on the southern bank of the river. The kingdom in turn was named for the indigenous Bantu Kongo people, known in the 17th century as "Esikongo". South of the Ki"Manicongo" the city at the mouth of the river.

The tribal names in Kongo possibly derive from a word for a public gathering or tribal assembly. The modern name of the Kongo people or Bakongo was introduced in the early XX century.

The name Zaire is from a Portuguese adaptation of a Kikongo word, nzere ("river"), a truncation of nzadi o nzere ("river swallowing rivers"). The river was known as Zaire during the XVI and XVII centuries; Congo seems to have replaced Zaire gradually in English usage during the 18th century, and Congo is the preferred English name in XIX-century literature, although references to Zahir or Zaire as the name used by the inhabitants remained common.

The Democratic Republic of the Congo and the Republic of the Congo are named after it, as was the previous Republic of the Congo which had gained independence in 1960 from the Belgian Congo. The Republic of Zaire during 1971–1997 was also named after the river's name in French and Portuguese.


Gouverneur: Hector-Jules MARTIN (17.06.1954 - 3.10.1960).

Hector-Jules MARTIN

He was born in 1899 in Cuesmes. After studies at the Provincial Institute of Industrial Hainaut, it entered the Bank of Belgian Congo. He was appointed Secretary

Management in Leopoldville in 1922, Director in Elizabethville 1927 and director in Brussels in 1945. When the Central Bank the Belgian Congo and Ruanda-Urundi was established in 1951 H.Martin was appointed the first Director and in 1954, Governor.

Commissioner Hoover Foundation for Development University of Brussels, since 1942. Administrator-Treasurer Belgian Foundation in Montana, 1949. Administrator and Vice-

President of the Savings Bank of the Belgian Congo and Ruanda-Urundi, 1952-1958. Administrator and Vice-President of the Credit Company in Colonat and Industry, 1953-1958. treasurer Honorary Officer of the Belgian Red Cross. administrator

Chairman of Study Financial Group of the National Institute for the development of Bas-Congo "Inga", 1958-1960.

Directeur: Firmin Peigneux (19 July 1948 – 11 April 1952).

Firmin J. A. Peigneux was born in 1904 in the village of Moha, Liège. His parents were Arthur Joseph Peigneux (1876-1942) and Flore Lega (1879-1952). He joined the colonial service and arrived in the Belgian Congo in 1925 at the age of 21. Peigneux spent his entire colonial career in the southwest of the Belgian Congo, in Bas-Congo, Léopoldville and Kasaï. In 1926 his supervisor said in an evaluation report, "This officer has the qualities needed to become an elite administrator in the short term." He was sensible, tactful and thoughtful in his dealings with the natives, and that had earned him the confidence of leaders and elders.

Pierre Ryckmans travelled through Bas-Congo District in 1930-1931 investigating labor conditions. He reached the territory of Thysville on 6 November 1930, where Peigneux was the administrator 1st class. He found that censuses had badly under-counted dependent women and children, and excessive numbers of Africans were being employed by the European companies and on the railway. The north of the territory, near the river, held the center of Kimbanguism. Peigneux showed Ryckmans examples of Kimbanguist chants, psalm-like hymns that proclaimed the glory of the pure and the confusion of the unfaithful, Black and White, when Jesus would return. They interpreted the Old Testament curses against evil kings as allusions to missionaries and administrators.

Peigneux became commissioner of Kwango District, with capital at Kikwit. He became Governor of Kasaï Province on 19 July 1948, replacing Léon A. Hofkens. He held office until 11 April 1952, and was replaced by Roger Le Bussy. Peigneux had been recalled to Belgium for health reasons. He was one of the few provincial governors who were openly socialist in their views. Peigneux was admitted to the Order of Léopold on 15 November 1946. He was promoted to the rank of officer on 19 October 1949.

Peigneux's signature as a director, and that of governor Hector Martin, appears on notes of the Central Bank of Belgian Congo and Rwanda-Burundi (Banque Centrale du Congo Belge et du Ruanda-Urundi) between 1956 and 1958. In 1957 he was elected a member of the International Institute of Differing Civilizations. He was a member of a commission of inquiry sent to Rwanda in January 1960 to report on the violence there in November 1959. He died in 1968 in Huy, Liège at the age of 64.