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Short Guide to Italian Republican Coins
Second issue (1951- 2002)
Please note: all pictures are scanned larger than actual size to better show details.

       All the following coins are still  legal tender although the 1 and 2 lire are not minted for circulation since 1959, silver 500 lire since 1967 and the 5 lire since 1997. You still can find these coins in the mint Unc. and proof sets.The 10 and 20 Lire coins, are still struck for circulation in a limited quantity, but you can find them  in coin shops only, since I haven't seen them in my change  for at least  the past 8-10 years.
Update: the 50 and 100 lire micro coins KM 95a and KM 96a, are no longer legal tender since October 16, 2000.

1 Lira (km# 91):

obv. a balance, symbol of justice;
rev. cornucopia, symbol of abundance. In Greek mithology it was the horn owned by Zeu's Nurse, the Ninph Amalthea, which could be filled with whatever the owner wished.

2 Lire (km#94):

obv. a bee;
rev. an olive branch (see the 10 Lire first issue).

5 Lire (Km# 92):

obv. a rudder;
rev. a dolphin.

 10 Lire (Km# 93):

obv. a plough;
rev. ear of wheat (again, see the 2 lire first issue)

All the above coins are struck in Italma (see above for the alloy composition).

20 Lire (Km# 97):

obv. allegorical portrait of the Italian Republic.
rev. an oak branch.

50 Lire (Km# 95):

obv. allegorical portrait of the Italian Republic;
rev. Vulcan (Hephaestus for the Greeks): the god of fire and metallurgy. Son of Zeus and Era, was the blacksmith of the gods. He worked under the volcanic island of Lemno (where his cult started). With his giant hammer and anvil he forged, with the help of the Cyclopes, wonderful things such as the Sun Chariot, Zeus' lightnings and sceptre, Achille's armour and Olimpus' buildings.

50 Lire (Km#95a):

reduced size (no longer legal tender since October 16, 2000).
In 1990, the Italian mint decided to reducethe size of the 50 and 100 lire coins. The result were twotiny coins that at first were collected as souveniers. Many Italians did not (and still do not) like them as pocket change, because they are too small and can be easely lost in purses and pockets.
In 1993 the mint introduced a new 100 lire coin (Km# 159) followed by a new 50 lire coin (Km#183)in 1996. The size ofthese coins is somewhere between the "old coins" and the  "reduced size" ones. So today we have three different types of 50 lire and three differents types of 100 lire circulating in Italy.

50 Lire (Km# 183):

obv. allegorical portrait (we call it Italia turrita: toweredItaly: you can find the same portrait on the 100 lire(Km# 159) and the 1000 lire coin.
rev. grape, oak branch, cornucopia, small gear.

100 Lire (Km# 96):

obv. allegorical portrait.
rev. Minerva (Athena for the Greeks) holding an olive tree. Goddess of wisdom, arts and artcrafs was Zeus' favorite daughter. She tought men how to join bows to the plough, to plant and coltivate the olive tree, and to sail on the see.

100 Lire (Km# 96a):

reduced size (no longer legal tender since October 16, 2000).

100 Lire (km# 159):

obv. allegorical portrait.
rev. dolphin, eagle, olive branch and wheat.

200 Lire (km# 105):

obv. allegorical portrait.
rev. an industrial gear symbol of labour. (Art. 1 of the Italian Constitution: Italy is a democratic republic based on labour). This is probably the ugliest coin of the circulating series.

500 Lire Silver (Km# 98):

My favourite Republican coin. You can find the date  on the edge in raised lettering.
obv. allegorical portrait.
rev. Columbus' Caravels: Nina, Pinta and Santa Maria.

500 Lire (Km# 111):

This is a most peculiar coin. As far as I know, this is the world's first modern bimetallic coin (1982) and the  only coin in the world that has the value written in braille (see the raised dots on the top of rev.).

obv. allegorical portrait of Italian Republic with wings springing out of the head as a symbol of freedom and intelligence.
rev. Quirinale palace in Roma. The Quirinale was the Popes' palace until 1870 when Rome was conquered by Vittorio Emanuele II, the first king of re-unified Italy. Since then it has been the Italian kings'residence and now it is the President of the Republic's palace (as sort of Italian White House). On the left of the picture, you can see a fountain with one of the many egyptian obelisks brought by the Romans to Rome. On the sides of the obelisk, you can see the statues of the two Dioscuri (Castor and Pollux), twin deities sons of Zeus who soccoured shipwrecked sailors and received sacrifice for favourable winds. Their cult was introduced in Rome in  the 5th century b.c. According to legend, they fought aside of the Romans in the battle of Lake Regillus an carried the news of victory to Rome. Their image appeared  on the early Roman republican silver denarius, represented  as horsemen holding spears and wearing helmets.

Roman silver denarius
showing Dioscuri

1000 Lire (Km# 190 and 194):

(km# 190 wrong map of Europe)

(km # 194 correct map of Europe)

obv. allegorical portrait
rev. Europe unveiled. As you probably know, there are two versions  of the map of Europe. The first one is not very precise and shows Germany with pre-1989 boundaries. The second shows the correct map of Europe. Both are dated 1997, while since 1998 only coins with the correct map are minted. The wrong map coin is no rarity, since millions of coins were minted before the mistake was put to the public attention and the mint was forced to a new picture.

Commemorative coins