20 Italian Lira Umberto I Gold 1879-1897
The Italian 20 Lire Umberto I gold coin is a superb example of 19th century European gold coinage.
Umberto Ranieri Carlo Emanuele Giovanni Maria Ferdinando Eugenio of Savoy was born in March 1844 in Turin, Italy. He was son to Victor Emmanuel II and Archduchess Adelaide of Austria. Receiving a high level of education throughout his youth, he entered the Sardinian army at the rank of Captain. During his military campaign he fought in the Italian Wars of Independence, including commanding several battles. Upon the death of his father in 1878, Umberto I rose to the thrown of King, which he remained in power of until his death by assassination in 1900 at the age of 56.
The obverse side of the coin features the bust of Umberto I, who served as King of Italy from 1878 until his death by assassination in 1900 (see below for history of Umberto). On the left side of Umberto I around the coin features his name 'UMBERTO I'. On the right side of the coin reads 'RE D'ITALIA'. Below the bust of Umberto I is the year of mintage for each individual coin.
The reverse side of the coin displays the Italian Coat of Arms, surrounded by a wreath. On the left side is the letter 'L' for Lire. On the right side is the coins denomination 20.
Prior to Umberto I ascending the throne in 1878, Italian coinage was struck throughout the country in Genoa, Milan, Rome, and Turin. After this time, all coins, including the Umberto I 20 Lire, were minted in Rome. It should be noted that red gold was used for minting a portion of the coins in 1882.