INVEST / COINS / Italian 20 Lire, Victor Emmanuel II, 1861 – Umberto I, 1897
The 20-lire Italian gold coin harkens back to Italy’s strength and prosperity after the unification of the peninsula in 1861.
Learn more about the value and history of this rare and beautiful historic coin.
The 20-lire Italian gold coin heralds the unification of the Italian peninsula in 1861. Under the leadership of King Victor Emmanuel II, whose visage the initial coins display, the many regions of Italy achieved the political union still evident today. Later coins featuring the portrait of Umberto I are also occasionally available.
Containing gold content of .1867 Troy oz., the 20-lire coin embodied the currency of the realm. The lira would remain Italy’s currency until the country joined the eurozone in 2002.
Victor Emmanuel II was initially the King of Sardinia. When he unified the Italian peninsula, he took the Sardinian currency, the lira, with him—installing it as the new country’s official currency. The 20-lire gold coin joined other Continental gold coins to enable the region’s gold standard and facilitate trade between the member states.
Portrait of a Sovereign
The first two kings of the unified Italy were Victor Emmanuel II (king from 1861 to 1878) and Umberto I (1878 to 1900). Twenty-lire gold coins from Italy of the period feature their portraits on coins minted during their respective reigns. Surrounding the portraits were the name of the sovereign, the date of mintage, and on some coins the sovereign’s title, i.e., “RE D’ITALIA” (King of Italy).
Symbol of Italian Strength
Italy’s national coat of arms graces the reverse side of the coin. It features a shield overlaid with a cross, topped by a crown and framed by a wreath. There are inscriptions identifying the kingdom and the date of issue stamped around the circumference of the coin.
The gold 20-lire coin joins several other historical and valuable gold coins characteristic of Europe in the 19th century. In a period preceded by the Napoleonic wars and succeeded by world wars, it was a time of relative calm and prosperity. Europe’s de facto gold standard allowed for extensive international trade with its accompanying spreading of the wealth.
As 21st century investors seek to make use of yesteryear’s gold standard on at least the personal level, knowledgeable buyers consider the Italian 20-lire gold coin a wise, historic, and valuable option.
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