World Coins

Rare coin of Italian King Vittorio Emanuele III in Swiss sale

A rare silver Italian coin of King Vittorio Emanuele III is part of Sincona AG’s May 17 auction.

Images courtesy of Sincona AG.

King Vittorio Emanuele III of Italy, who reigned from 1900 to 1946, was a well-known collector of coins.

The intersection between his reign and a curious coinage custom led to the creation of a rare coin, an example of which is being offered May 17 in Sincona AG’s auction No. 76 in Zurich.

The 1901 silver 5-lira coin, the first crown of the young king, is part of the Annemarie and Gerd Köhlmoos Collection.

Italy’s production of the coin (at the Rome Mint) exceeded the amount of silver coinage allowed by the Latin Monetary Union specifically for large silver coins, according to the auction house.

After a protest by France, all examples but 114 pieces were melted. The remaining pieces were used by the king as gifts, presented to members of the royal family and their friends, as well as dignitaries and government officials, and in due course many were sold to collectors.

Thus these coins were a renowned rarity from the very beginning.

A letter is known in which the king wrote to one of his administrative officers, Egidio Osio: “I received the first issue yesterday, this scudo will have rarity value because only a few pieces will be struck.”

The coin in the auction is graded  Uncirculated Details by Numismatic Guaranty Co., thanks to minor hairlines.

The coin has an opening bid of 40,000 Swiss francs ($40,929 U.S.).

A Mint State 60 example of this rarity also graded by NGC realized a hammer price of $90,000 in an Aug. 6, 2020, auction by Stack’s Bowers Galleries.

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