The history of Italian 20 cent coins is fascinating and reflects the historical and political vicissitudes of the Classic and Modern period between the end of 1800 and the middle of 1900. Each coin has a history that makes it particular and interesting, not only from a Numismatic point of view, but also Artistic. In fact, some of these coins are considered among the most beautiful coins of the world Numismatics of the first half of 900 ‘.
Between trials, projects, withdrawals, re- minting and experimentation of new alloys this historical period has left us a large number of rare 20 cents lira coins!
- Classic Period 1861 – 1911
- Modern Period 1911 – 1945
Classic Period 1861 – 1911
From the monetary point of view this period was full of changes that underlined the differences between the two periods of the reign of Vittorio Emanuele II, King of Sardinia first King of Italy then.
The differences between the coins of the Kingdom of Sardinia and those of the new Kingdom of Italy were different, one of these is the truncation of the neck on the figure of the King on the back of the coins.
In fact the coins minted during the period of Vittorio Emanuele II King of Sardinia depict him with the “Long Neck“, those minted during the reign of Vittorio Emanuele King of Italy depict the King with the “Short Neck“.
Another difference is the use of the Latin language for the coins of the first period and the Italian language in the second period.
A curiosity is that in 1863 the 20 cent coins of the “Coat of Arms” (Stemma) and “Value” (Valore) series were minted in parallel.
Let’s see them both!
20 Cents Lira Coin 1863 “Stemma” Vittorio Emanuele II
In 1862 because of a new Monetary Law a new typology of coins was instituted in substitution to the 25 Centesimi of Lira in circulation in the Kingdom of Sardinia. Thus was born the 20 centesimi of Lira coin in Silver known as “STEMMA” (Coat of Arms). Minted in 1863 by the Turin Mint with a small circulation, only 461 pieces.
This coin immediately made people talk about itself, because of the similarity with the 5 Lira gold coin. Very similar both in size and image engraved on the reverse, the new silver coin could therefore easily be gold plated and passed off as a 5 Lira coin.
For this reason they were promptly withdrawn from circulation to be recast, however about ten specimens were lost of sight becoming today highly sought after specimens classified as R4.
The coin was designed by Giuseppe Ferraris, realized with a diameter of 16 mm, weighing 1 g.
In the obverse is represented the head of King Vittorio Emanuele II facing to the right, under the line of the neck the signature of the engraver and along the beaded down the thousandth of minting 1963. Around the coin the inscription VITTORIO EMANUELE II.
In the reverse side, inside the beaded outline, the inscription REGNO D’ITALIA (KINGDOM OF ITALY), at the bottom the value of the coin between the symbol of the National Bank and that of the Mint of Turin.
The contour is smooth.
Table with Coin Value | 20 Cents Lira Coin 1863 “Stemma”
Prices at Auctions | 20 Cents Lira Coin 1863 “Stemma”
Auctions of the 20 rare italian cents STEMMA:
- A twenty cent 1863 R5 coin in FDC was auctioned on May 7, 2014 for 90,000 GBP, corresponding to 110,382€.
- On November 10, 2017 there was an auction where an R5 in SPL+ was sold for 102.660€.
20 Cents Lira Coin 1863 “Valore” Vittorio Emanuele II
A curiosity about this coin is that the minting dated 1963 was also used in the years 64′ 65′ and 66′. They were then withdrawn from 1883 to 1886.
This Italian coin was minted in Silver 885 with a total circulation of 34,999,539 between 1863 and 1867, it weighs around 1g and its diameter is 16 millimeters.
The Obverse depicts the King’s head with a “short neck” facing right with the signature of the engraver Ferraris underneath. Around it the inscription VITTORIO EMANUELE II and at the bottom 1963. All around a pearly circle.
On the reverse side the inscription 20 CENTESIMI on two central flag lines with the inscription REGNO D’ITALIA above and two laurel branches joined by a bow with the symbols of MINT M BN underneath.
The contour of the coin is smooth.
They are common coins, however a version of 1863 with the symbol BN reversed is considered R4. And those of 1867 R
The value of the twenty cent coin “Valore” is different between the mint of Turin and Milan.
Table with Coin Value | 20 Cents Lira Coin 1863 “Valore”
Prices at Auctions | 20 Cents Lira Coin 1863 “Valore”
The Auctions of the 20 cents rare “VALORE”:
- 18.560€ for a 20 cent R4 coin. Value with inverted BN dated 1863 Torino in BB+ quality during the Auction of 26th October 2012.
- An 1863 Torino R4 SPL with inverted BN was sold at auction on October 26th 2013 for 12.305€.
- Instead for a coin of 1867 Torino R in FDC were spent 863€ at the Auction of 18 January 2013.
- The 20 centesimi Valore 1867 Torino R SPL were auctioned for 826€ on October 20, 2015.
20 Cents Lira Coin 1894 Umberto I – “Nichelino”
The coins under the reign of King Umberto I are quite similar to those of the previous kingdom, unlike the engraver. In fact Ferraris was replaced by Filippo Speranza who maintained the stylistic characteristics of the coins minted previously.
The most striking difference is the space occupied by the name of the King, which, being shorter, was greatly reduced. In the case of the 20 centesimi the name of the King was removed.
The minor coins were made with less valuable metals, for example the 20 cent coin was minted in Nickel alloy, a new alloy, very ductile, widely used in this period for the production of coins for daily use. The use of the new alloy generated the nickname of the 20 Centesimi Umberto I known today with the name of “Nichelino”.
However, the same alloy that gave rise to the name also caused its withdrawal, this because being an alloy rich in copper had a tendency to blacken the coins. In fact in 1909 they were withdrawn. However, they were then reused in favor of the minting of 20 cents. “Esagono” in 1918, later we will see why.
The coins can present two symbols of the Mint, the one of Roma R and the initials K.B. Acronym referring to the German Mint in Berlin and the metal industry Arthur Krupp of Berndorf, who collaborated for the minting of these 20 cent coins. Umberto I. However the acronym K.B can also be referred to the Kremnitz Mint in Bohemia.
Made of Nickel alloy, weight 4g and diameter of 21.1mm.
The Obverse presents the Royal Crown that overlooks the year of minting 1894, in the upper part the star of Italy. On the right and on the left the laurel and oak branches joined by a ribbon and under the symbol of Mint K.B
In the reverse, inscribed in a pearly circle, there is the value 20 engraved very large. Around it, between the beaded edges that surround it, the inscription: REGNO D’ITALIA 20 CENTESIMI with two 5-pointed stars.
The outline is striped.
These coins were counterfeited in large quantities, this was also one of the reasons that prompted their withdrawal from circulation.
Table with Coin Value | 20 Cents Lira Coin 1894 Umberto I
Prices at Auctions | 20 Cents Lira Coin 1894 Umberto I “Nichelino”
- On March 26, 2008 a 1894 C model with K.B mint in FDC was sold for 253€.
- On November 22nd 2008 a C coin in 1894 BU from the Mint of Rome was purchased for 288€.
- An 1895 NC in FDC was sold at an auction for 322€ on May 7, 2011.
20 Cents Lira Coin 1908 “Libertà Librata” Vittorio Emanuele III
King Vittorio Emanuele III has always been very attached to numismatics, he was also President of the Italian Numismatic Society. Even when he became King he wanted to maintain a decisional role in the monetary field, even at an aesthetic level. This is where his name of “Numismatic King” comes from.
The 20 Cents coin of 1908 represents an aesthetic innovation, compared to the previous coins, those of this period in fact were conceived and designed by artists, carefully selected, who were inspired by ancient Roman coins with clear references to the floral style.
In fact, the result was that the coins of this period (1908/1918) were among the most beautiful of the monetary art of the first half of the 20th century, worldwide.
The first thing that stands out is that the King is not depicted. Recognized as the most beautiful Italian coin made of nickel!
So beautiful that between 1926 and 1935 they were minted only for numismatics. (See table with the values below)
Designed by the artist Leonardo Bistolfi with clear inspiration from Ancient Greece and the typical floral taste that characterizes the artistic period of the time, the Liberty style.
In the Obverse is represented the Greek profile of a woman looking to the left, whose bare shoulder can be glimpsed, with an ear of wheat in her right hand and the inscription ITALY at the top between the ear and her hair.
In the reverso it hosts the female figure with long hair representing Liberty that hovers in flight to the left and looks to the right. The woman has a torch in her left hand and the clothes wrap her in it, creating light drapes shaped by the wind. At the bottom the Savoy shield with friezes and king’s crown and at the sides the names of the engraver Giorgi INC and the designer L. Bistolfi followed by the monogram LB.
The contour is striped, 4 g in weight and 21.5 mm in circumference. Made of Nickel 975
Table with Coin Value | 20 Cents Lira Coin “Libertà Librata” 1908
Table with Coin Value | 20 Cents Lira Coin “Libertà Librata” – RARE
20 Cents Lira Coin 1907 Libertà Librata “PROVA”
The 20 Centesimi coin 1907 PROVA shows the writing “Proof” followed by R.Z in the line below. The font used in the verse is italic print of Liberty imprint, typical of the period but perhaps too risky for a coin that was then minted using a character, always Liberty but more compact. The rest of the coin is very similar to the one that was minted the following year, in 1908.
Table with Coin Value | 20 Cents Lira Coin “Libertà Librata” PROVA
Prices at Auctions | 20 Cents Lira Coin “Libertà Librata” PROVA
Some Auction on the 20 cents rare “Libertà Librata PROVA”:
- For a 20 Cents 1907 Librata Libertà Librata PROVA (20 Cents R2) 2.300€ was spent in FDC at a Nomisma auction on April 13, 2013.
- Instead, on May 7, 2011 (Nomisma 43 Auction), for a 20 cent coin 1907 Librata Libertà Librata PROVA R4 in qFDC quality, but without date, the auction price was 2.185€.
Rare 20 cents lira coin 1907 “PROGETTO”
Besides the trial coin (PROVA) there are also the 20 Centesimi 1907 “PROJECT” (Progetto). This project has seen portrayed on the obverse of the 20 centesimi coin the profile of Italia Turrita under the clothes of a woman looking to the left. Along the circle of the coin a succession of Savoy knots and beads. The inscription on the sides shows, separated by five-pointed stars, ITALY and the date 1907. However there is a version of the coin that looks to the right.
Of the verse instead there are two versions, both with the value of 20 CENTESIMI on two lines and the Savoy coat of arms with Crown and laurel branches.
In one of the two versions there is the inscription: VITTORIO EMANVELE III RE D’ITALIA, in the other there is engraved the symbol of the caduceus and the spike.
All coins minted by project are classified as R4
Value and Prices at Auctions | 20 cents lira coin 1907 “PROGETTO”
Some auctions on the most interesting 20 cents 1907 PROGETTO:
- On May 13, 2014 a coin in FDC 20 cents 1907 project was auctioned for 2.950€.
- 1.725€ for an FDC at the Auction of May 9, 2010 for a project with the inscription VITTORIO EMANVELE III RE D’ITALIA.
- Instead, on May 7, 2011 an exemplary Progett in FDC was purchased for 2.530€.
Modern Period 1911 – 1945
1911 is the year that sees the issuance of the first series of commemorative coins, for the 50th from the State Unit. The coins are those of Vittorio Emanuele III.
We are talking about a period of war that sees the almost disappearance of 1 and 2 cents coins or nickel coins. This is because this element was almost totally intended for the manufacture of weapons. To solve the problem the Umberto I’s nickels were exhumed, previously withdrawn, they were treated and used as a basis for a new minting.
In fact it is not difficult to find traces of this passage in the 20 cent “Hexagon” coins. As you can see from the coins below, where it is clear the use of Nichelino of 1894 as a base for minting the new ones.
20 cents lira coin “Esagono” 1918 “PROVA”
Here is an example of 20 cent coin PROVA 1918
In the obverse is depicted the Savoy coat of arms surmounted by the Royal Crown, on the sides the crossed branches of laurel and oak. At the top the inscription REGNO D’ITALIA.
In the reverse inscribed inside a hexagon is engraved the value of 20 C.mi with an Art Nouveau style font, with the C worked with appendix, under the date 1918. On the left side of the hexagon the engraving P R O V A. The background has the ornamental decorations typical of the coins of these years.
The contour is smooth.
The one depicted is classified as R4, has a smooth outline and there are slight traces of the minting below. In fact, despite the inscription PROVA, it is considered more reliable to think that it is a project of reprinting over an old coinage of Nichelino 1894/95. We do not know the circulation of these minting projects.
Table with Coin Value | 20 cents lira coin “Esagono” 1918 “PROVA”
Prices at Auctions | 20 cents lira coin “Esagono” 1918 “PROVA”
Here are some Auctions of Projects and TRIALS of the 20 rare “Hexagon PROVA” cents:
- 26 November 1996, a series of 19 coins Commemorative Regia Zecca R5, in a box and in BU were sold for the equivalent of 51.375€ (99.475.000 Lire).
- A 1918 FDC R4 PROVA with the Beaming Star inscribed under the tip of the hexagon, was purchased for 2.415€ on October 29th 2011.
- On October 23rd, 2010, an R4 test specimen, which has a C with an appendix like the one in the FDC photo, was sold at auction for 978€.
- Another coin of 20 Cent. 1918 P R O V A, also R4 and FDC, was auctioned for 923€.
20 cents lira coin “Esagono” 1918 Vittorio Emanuele III
This is the coin approved for the 20 Centesimi of King Vittorio Emanuele III in 1918.
That we know to be minted over old “Nichelini”.
On the obverse is represented a hexagon with inside the value of the coin, CENT. 20 and the year of minting, 1918. Under the date is the R of the mint of Rome. Around the hexagon inscribed inside a serrated contour is engraved a floral crown taped and decorated.
In the reverse is engraved the coat of arms of the royal house with the branches of oak and laurel woven underneath. Above the central inscription REGNO D’ITALIA and between the inscription and the shield there is the King’s crown. Below the initials of Attilio Motti, author of the drawing.
The contour appears:
- striped for the 1918 and 1919 coins that used nickel as a base
- smooth for the new roundels used for the coins minted in 1920
Diameter of 21.3 mm, 3.9 g weight and French-style axes.
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Table with Coin Value | 20 cents “Esagono” 1918
20 cents 1936 “IMPERO” Vittorio Emanuele III
They were made with different alloys more or less metallic, in fact it is not rare that you have to do the magnetic test before an estimate, below the table with the different values between the antimagnetic and magnetic coins.
In the Obverse the naked head of King Vittorio Emanuele III looking to the left, with the writing VITT – EM – III – RE – E – IMP – around it. The signature of G. Romagnoli is at the bottom along the edge of the coin.
In reverse the female profile facing to the right is that of Italy behind the beam with the Savoy Shield. The inscription ITALIA is on the right side of the coin, at the bottom under the neck there is the nominal value of C. 20, the year of minting and on the left the fascist era in Roman numerals with the symbol R of the Mint of Rome.
The contour of the coin is striped.
Made of acmonital, with a diameter of 21.7 mm, weight of 4 grams and striped contour.
Table with Coin Value: 20 cents 1936 “IMPERO” Vittorio Emanuele III
Prices at Auctions | 20 cents 1936 “IMPERO” Vittorio Emanuele III
- A 20 cent coin. IMPERO of 1936 R2 in FDC was sold at an auction on July 2, 2011 for 460€.
- On April 13, 2014, an R2 model of 20 cents 1936 in FDC was purchased at the Auction for 460€.
- An antimagnetic C coin from 1939 in BU, reached the auction value of €76.70 on May 13, 2014.
- For a magnetic C coin of 1939 in the BU always on May 13, 2014 was spent instead 153€.
- A 1943 C twenty cent CC specimen in FDC was actioned for €27.60 on September 19, 2012
Italian 20 cents 1936 “IMPERO” Vittorio Emanuele III – PROVA
In the Obverse the King’s head with a moustache and no crown looking to the left. On the left VITT – EM -III – instead on the right the writing RE – E – IMP – . At the bottom center the signature of the author G. Romagnoli.
At reverse instead the female profile of Italy with the beam looking to the right. On the right the writing ITALIA, at the bottom the nominal value C. 20 and the year of minting 1936. On the left the fascist era XIV and the symbol of the mint of Rome R.
The contour of the coin is striped.
Diameter of 21.5 mm, weighing 4 grams and made of nickel.
Italian 20 cents 1936 “IMPERO”- Table for Numismatics
Prices at Auctions | Italian 20 cents 1936 “IMPERO” for Numismatics
The most sought after 20 rare cents of 1936 “IMPERO for Numismatics”:
- For an Empire coin of 1938 R5 was spent 21.240 € on October 15, 2014, the coin was in BU and came from a numismatic circulation.
- A 20 cents IMPERO 1938 R4 in FDC was beaten at the Auction of November 10, 2017 for 16.520€.
- 3.658€ instead is the amount spent at the Auction of 4 April 2017 for a 20 cent Empire R3 1938 in FDC.
- The 20 cent coin Vittorio Emanuele III Empire of 1938 R2 in FDC reached the 460€ auction on May 13, 2014.
Table with Coin Value | Italian 20 cents 1936 “IMPERO” Vittorio Emanuele III – PROVA
Prices at Auctions | Italian 20 cents 1936 “IMPERO” Vittorio Emanuele III – PROVA
- A 20 Cent Empire PROVA 1936 R3 in FDC on May 7, 2011 was won for 1.840€.
- On the same day at the same auction was purchased for 1.495€ another Proof coin of 1936 R3 in FDC.
- Always during the same Auction, on May 7, 2011, for a 20 cents BU R5 Empire 1938 coin the figure of 6.670€ was reached.
- For an R4 PROVA of 1939 on April 13, 2013 the amount of 2.530€ was spent for a test R4
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