Herb G. writes: I have a 20 Lira coin with a picture of Mussolini. I checked “World Coins” and could not find it. The obverse, however, is identical to the 1928 10th Anniv. of WWI. I noticed in you response to someone else who appears to have the same coin (30 January) that there is not such a coin.
Eric C. writes: I have a gold coin from WWII. It is 100 L in value on the front is Mussolini in uniform with a helmet. It is about 31 grams of gold, the size of a quarter dollar. On the back is the same as most Italian coins before it with the words in Italian “It is better to live one day as a lion than a year as a sheep.” On the front however I believe Mussolini replaced himself as the soldier on the front wearing a army issue W.W.II style. My mother remembers as a girl Mussolini took all their gold and wedding rings to produce these coins but that’s all she remembers. What can you tell me about this coin?
This is part of a group of fantasy pieces that were privately made, possibly as a proposal for a future coinage. The coin shows a helmeted Benito Mussolini/Roman Fasces on reverse and celebrates the coming to power of the Fascists in Italy.
They were struck in 1943 (MCMXLIII) and in 20 and 100 Lira denominations and in gold, silver and silvered brass (your coin, I think). There is also a gold coin of Vittorio Emmanuel III (30 grams of gold) in this same group.
Market value for the silvered brass 20 Lira: less than US $10. Market value for the silver 20 Lira (17.5 grams) about $20.
The original design that refers to “lions” and “sheep” actually belonged to another fantasy, a 1928 100 Lire with head of King Vittorio Emmanuel III. The Mussolini fantasy gold pieces with the lion/sheep legend consist of: -20 Lira (Gold 31 grams) – current value about $1000. -20 Lira (.500 gold 20 mm diameter) – value about $500. -20 Lira (.500 gold 17 mm diameter) – value about $350. -50 Lira -(about 23 mm) – value about $700. -100 Lira -(34 mm) -value about $1000.
Though they are somewhat historically interesting, they are contrived pieces. There isn’t too many fond memories of Benito Mussolini to make these a wildly popular collectible.