50 Lire Coin | Values and Curiosities about the Italian 50 Lire Rare Coin

The history of the 50 lire coin of the Italian Republic, like the other coins of this period, is rich in peculiarities that still today make collectors and numismatics discuss. Both for the characteristics of the material, and because they were among the last Lira coins in Italian history (for now), the 50 Lire and its variants have a lot to tell us!

Let’s now see step by step the origin of the 50 rare lire and how they have marked the history of numismatics.

Introduction to italian 50 lire coins

Certainly, when we speak of 50 lire coin, it comes to mind the currency that circulated in Italy before the introduction of the Euro, which occurred in 2002. The 50 lire that we remember today are those coming from our generous grandmothers who, in secret from mothers, were given to grandchildren to go and buy candies or ice cream. For this reason, when we talk about coins before the advent of the Euro, the mind immediately brings us back to childhood memories, unforgettable memories for all of us!

However, let’s start with the first 50 lire coin, the ones you’ve probably never seen before, because the first coin was minted in 1954 and even earlier in 1950, when were produced some “essai coins”, today highly sought after.

What is an Essai? An essai (or essay) coin is an investigative coin minted to test the technical, artistic aspect of the coin. It is very rare and it s easily recognizable by the written “PROVA”.

So let’s see some of the 50 rare lire that most arouse the curiosity of lovers of coin collecting.

50 lire Vulcan (Vulcano) Essai

Among the 50 Lire of the 50’s the most sought after are the essai coins made before the production of the final coin that took place in 1954.

50 Lire Vulcan Essay 1950/1953

50 lire Vulcano 1950 PROVA
50 lire Vulcan Essay coin year 1950
  • Year: Essay 1950
  • Material: acmonital
  • Weight: 7.3 g
  • Diameter: 25 mm
  • Rarity: R3
  • Year: Essay 1953
  • Material: acmonital
  • Weight: 6.18 g
  • Diameter: 21.8 mm
  • Rarity: R4

On the obverse, facing right, the profile of a woman adorned with a crown of oak leaves, around the head the inscription REPVBBLICA ITALIANA with an outer circle, below the signatures of author and engraver: “Giuseppe Romagnoli” and “Pietro Giampaoli Inc.

On the reverse, surrounded by a pearly border, there is instead a depiction of the naked and sculptural body of the God Vulcan, as a symbol of Industry, which forges a spade. Hephaestus with his right hand holds the hammer upwards, ready to beat the anvil, and with his left hand holds the spade firmly. On the left the year of mintage and along the edge the inscription “PROVA IN ACMONITAL”, on the right the face value and under the symbol of the Mint of Rome.

This is an incredibly rare Italian essay coin, made of acmonital (Italian monetary steel), a type of metal composed mainly of steel and nickel.

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The particularity of acmonital is its ferromagnetic capacity, which means that coins were physically “attracted” by magnets. The alloy is composed of iron/nickel/chromium/vanadium, so its “ferromagnetic capacity” varies according to the greater or lesser percentage of nickel.

This alloy was already introduced in 1937 for the production of coins of the Empire Series, the coins of the Italian Republic that use the acmonital are, in addition to 50 Lire, 100 Lire and 500 Lire Bimetallic.

Value of 50 Lire Vulcan Essay Coin 1950 – 1953

  • The 50 Lire Vulcan Essay 1950 is very sought after, on April 13, 2013 a copy of this coin in FDC was auctioned for € 3,450
  • But nothing compared to what you are willing to spend on a copy of 50 Lire Vulcan Essay 1953 in Mint: in fact, on March 18, 2017, one of these rare R4 coins was sold at auction for 11,800 €.

50 lire Vulcano 1954 Essay

In 1954 there are some examples with the word “PROVA” and some without the word “PROVA”. Those without the word PROVA are worth more and are of Rarity R5.

50 lire Vulcan 1954 Essay (PROVA)
  • Year: Essay 1954
  • Material: acmonital (81.75 Fe – 18.25 Cr)
  • Weight: 6.25 g
  • Diameter: 24.8 mm
  • Outline: Striped
  • Rarity: R3 With word PROVA / R5 Without word PROVA

Value of 50 Lire Vulcan Essay Year 1954

  • On November 4, 2017 was auctioned for 6.018€ a essay copy of 1954 the Mint with rarity R3

Project of 50 Lire “Anvil” Coin 1954

50 lire 1954
Project of 50 Lire “Anvil” Coin 1954
  • Year: essay 1954 (anvil)
  • Material: acmonital
  • Weight: 6.25 g
  • Diameter: 24.8 mm
  • Outline: Striped
  • Rarity: R5

On the obverse, as for the essay of 1950 and 1953 but larger, the woman’s head with the crown of oak leaves. Around the head the inscription REPVBBLICA ITALIANA the outer pearl circle has disappeared, below the signature “Romagnoli“.

On the reverse side, the perlined edge is no longer there, and instead of Vulcan there is a picture of the anvil and the hammer on a stone. On the right the year of mintage, under the symbol of the Mint of Rome and the face value is on the right and left of the stone.

Value of Project of 50 Lire “Anvil” Coin 1954

This coin is of extreme rarity, practically unobtainable also for the Mint Museum that today does not possess even one of them!

Notice that on 27 September 2000 one of these Mint coins was purchased for 48.300.000 Lire (24,945€).

50 lire Vulcan Coin

50 lire Vulcano 1954
50 lire Vulcan Coin year 1954

After the essay coins between 1950 and 1954 the 50 Lira Vulcan was coined from 1954 to 1989 in different variants.

The 50 lire Vulcan coin shows a woman’s head with a crown of oak leaves looking to the right. Around the head of a woman, there is the inscription REPVBBLICA ITALIANA. Under the neck there is a rhombus and the indication of the authors: Romagnoli and Giampaoli Inc.

On the other side, therefore, on the reverse, there is Hephaestus, the Vulcanic God who beats the iron on an anvil. You can see the value of the coin on the right, L.50, under the sign of the Mint (Rome). On the left is engraved the year of mintage of the coin.

  • The outline: striped
  • Diameter: 24.8 mm
  • Weight: 6.25 g

One of the peculiarities of this coin is the “French” axis.

The minting axes indicate the orientation of the two sides of the coin. If turning the coin on the vertical axis, the image is offset by 180°, the axis is called “French style”. If, on the other hand, the image is aligned, the axis is “German style”. On the basis of this principle we also calculate the degrees of rotation of the axes and any errors that may make the coin very interesting from the numismatic point of view.

Value of 50 Lire Vulcan Coin

The value of a coin depends on the balance of some parameters such as the rarity, the circulation, the year of issue and especially the state of preservation. To evaluate a coin it is necessary that these parameters are respected; in this regard there are specific acronyms (grades) that serve as a reference to indicate the economic estimate.

  • Mint State (MS or FdC in italian) This acronym indicates that coins are coins preserved at the time of minting and never circulated, ie the best state of preservation of the coin.
  • About Uncirculated (AU or qFDC) a step below the Brilliant Uncirculated, that is the coin that may show signs of contact with other coins, but is almost perfect.
  • Extremely Fine (SPL or EF) indicates that the coin has circulated for a short time and that it has been kept in excellent condition, keeping all the details defined and well readable.
  • Very Fine (BB or VF) indicates that the coin has only some characteristics of wear and tear that do not affect the legibility.

50 Lire Vulcan 1954

The 50 Lira Vulcan essai version of the 1954 Acmonital coin has a very high value. It ranges from a minimum of 125.00€ to a maximum of 1500€ for those in Mint state.

For the 50 Lire Vulcan of 1954 with a circulation equal to 17.600.00 with rarity C, the value can vary from a minimum of 10,00€ to a maximum of 330,00€.


50 Lire Vulcan 1955

The 50 Lira Vulcan coin of 1955 has a rather high circulation, equal to 70.500.000, with rarity C. We speak therefore of a common coin, therefore the value can vary from 4€ for a coin with state of conservation VF, to 185€ if it is in Mint state instead.


50 Lire Vulcan 1958

It is one of the rarest coins, since only 825,000 were minted, if it was also kept in excellent condition, its economic estimate could really be incredible!

So how much can the 50 Lira Vulcano of 1958 R be worth?

  • Mint state starts from 1.400€
  • AU or EF up to 1.000€
  • VG around 40€

50 Lire Vulcan 1959

The 50 Lira Vulcan coins of 1959 with a rather short circulation NC

  • VG around 15€
  • Mint State up to 780€

50 Lire Vulcan 1960

The 1960 Vulcan 50 Lira coin has a low circulation, NC rarity.

  • VG is worth around 12€
  • MINT state up to 900€

50 Lire Vulcan 1961

Le monete da 50 Lire Vulcan del 1961 con una tiratura pari a 11.100.00, rarità NC.

  • VG are worth around 4€
  • Mint up to 550€

50 Lire Vulcan “Small Size” 

50 lire piccole - micro
50 lire small size coin

The Small size of 50 Vulcan Lira coin or “micro” or even “reduced module” or even “minimonete”, have more or less the same characteristics as the 50 Vulcan Lira.

They were minted from 1990 to 1995, on the obverse they also have a woman’s head turned right, with the words REPVBBLICA ITALIANA around them and under the woman’s head there is a rhombus with the indication of the authors ROMAGNOLI and GIAMPAOLI INC.

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On the reverse of the coin is always represented the God Vulcan beating the iron on the anvil. To the right the value is L.50, with under the sign of the Mint ( R ) and in the left part there is the thousandth of minting.

  • Year: 1990/1995
  • Total coinage: 510,755
  • Material: acmonital
  • Weight: 2.7 g
  • Diameter: 16.55 mm
  • Side dish: Smooth
  • Rarity: C

The real peculiarity of this coin was the size MICRO, the coin was in fact minted with a diameter of 16.55 mm unlike the previous versions that were close to 25 mm. So much smaller than the previous version.

Precisely because of their size they had little success among the population that immediately labeled them as too small.

“The small 50 Lire? They’re practically lost in your pockets! R.D.”

It is not possible to give a high economic estimate to this type of currency, although they are much sought after by collectors. It must be said, however, that, precisely because of the numismatics, a version of the background mirror was produced exclusively for them.

Value of 50 Lire Small Size

  • The 50 Lira Coin Small Size minted from 1990 to 1995 have a rather low value, ranging from a value of 1.50€ for those of 1990 to 3€ for those of 1995.
  • A 50 Lira Coin Small size minted in 1990, rarity C have a value of 15€ if in Mint state
  • The highest circulation of these 50 Small Lire is relative to 1991, equal to 60,000,000, for this reason the value does not exceed 9 €, moreover, only for the Mint luster version.

Curiosities

A particularity of these coins is that between 1990 and 1991 they had several minting defects.

One is a detail referred to the rhombus above the signature of the engravers, whether there is or is not, another error refers to the ear of the head of a woman who is round or pointed. In addition, sometimes the mint symbol R or the first number of the year of minting disappears, or the minting axis is out of phase.

All these features make the coin interesting and sometimes rare.

50 lire Micro 1993 with mintage mistake

It’s a lot of fun to find the various particularities of these years, especially those related to the rhombus and the ear.

To give just a few examples:

1990 NC 50 lire coin without rhombus and with pointed earlobe

  • BB € 6
  • spl €12,50
  • fdc € 25

1991 NC 50 lire coin with the rhombus and lobe of the round ear

  • BB € 2,50
  • spl €5
  • fdc € 7,50

The 50 lire of 1991 C without the rhombus and lobe of the round ear

  • fdc € 0,50

The 50 lire of 1991 C without the rhombus and lobe of the pointed ear

  • BB € 5
  • spl €10
  • fdc € 20

50 Lire (Italia Turrita) 

50 lire Italia Turrita
50 lire Italia Turrita coin

The 50 Lire Italia Turrita coin was minted from 1996 to 1999 and was the last of the 50 Lire coins minted because in 2002 it was withdrawn, on the occasion of the introduction of the Euro. The coin has the following characteristics

In the face of the coin to the Obverse there is the representation of the Head Turrita. From the veil come out the strands of braided hair, to represent iconically the DNA as a symbol of the origin and the Italian history. The head is surrounded, along the edge, by the inscription REPVBBLICA ITALIANA, at the bottom there is a 5-pointed star and the signature of the author L. CRETARIA.

In the reverse of the coin stands out immediately the indication of the value of 50 Lira, at the top there is the thousandth of minting. The outline is a succession of symbols referring to the other coins of the Republic. Elements intertwined with each other that determine the peculiarity.

The 200 Lire Cogwheel, the 1 Lira cornucopia, the 20 Lire Oak Branch, the 100 Lire “Minerva” Laurel Branch and the Grape are represented with obvious reference to the 5 Lire “Uva”.

  • Year: 1996/1999
  • Material: Cupronickel
  • Weight: 4.5 g
  • Diameter: 19.2 mm
  • Side dish: Smooth
  • Rarity: C

Una curiosità di questa moneta riguarda proprio il suo nome: Italia Turrita; quest’ultima si ricollega alla personificazione dell’Italia, nelle vesti di una giovane donna con il capo cinto da una corona di torri. Simbolo di regalità e nobiltà.

Value of 50 Lire “Italia Turrita” Coin

The 50 Lire Italia Turrita coin, minted from 1996 to 1999, was characterised by a large circulation, with a rarity of C

  •  FdC is worth around 4,00€.

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Autore dell'articolo

Marco Salvatori
Marco Salvatori

I don't like to call myself a Numismatic but rather a passionate collector of italian lira, modern and even ancient coins. I love studying the history of our country through coins and each piece tells me its story.

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