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villa66

Hoarding the 20-lire, c.1980?

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villa66

I hope you all forgive me for posting this in English-only, but maybe it will keep things simpler to translate, and this is a question(s) that belongs here, among the experts on the Republic’s lira coinage. Any response is most welcome.

 

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We were talking about the 20-lire coin on the German forum, and, and a coin-friend asked the following:

 

Mynter hat geschrieben: ↑ When I was in Italy in 1981, I had to trawl the post- offices in order to get hold of a 20- lire- piece.I never saw one circulating, while the 10- lire -coins still where quit common. Was the 20- lire indeed unpopular or was it perhaps withdrawn to avoid confusion with the new 200- lire ?

 

My answer took an unexpected turn, and I said I would ask for here. My answer….

 

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Really a good thought, but after looking into it some, I don’t think so. One big reason is because in 1981 Roma produced the largest number of 20-lire pieces in the entire 1957-2001 series. And more evidence that the aluminum-bronze 20-lire died a natural death is the following entry I found in my notebook:

 

x: By the time this 1987 20-lire piece was minted, these coins were departing circulation. It was a natural response to inflationary pressure. Day-to-day Italian transactions were—more and more—being rounded to the nearest 50 lire. (01)

 

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But when you were in Italia in 1981 you had difficulty finding them, and when I visited in ’85 that was my experience too.

 

Well, the dynamic driving my ’85 experience in not seeing the 20-lire in change may well have been the reason given above, but…

 

Your ’81 experience might be something quite different, because I also found this entry in my notebook:

 

x: When freshly-minted, 20-lire pieces (this one is dated 1974) often impressed people as being coined in much more expensive metal than they were. Gold, perhaps? So went the rumor, sometimes. (01)

 

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I don’t know why I appended that note to a 1974-dated 20-lire. Likely because I connected that random curiosity about 20-lire pieces (rumors of gold!) with a date during the big Italian coin shortage, thinking maybe it might have been just one more contributing factor.

 

But what if that rumor of gold in the 20-lire was really a thing connected to the great gold run-up of 1979-80? After all, mintage of the 20-lire is solid but unspectacular throughout 1969-1978, but begins to spike in 1979-80, tops out in 1981, falls dramatically in ’82, and—with a few minor exceptions—continues to fall thereafter.

 

Think maybe that elevated 1979-81 production might have been a mint trying to keep a coin in circulation that was being hoarded by an ill-informed public during a gold frenzy? Which might help explain why you didn’t see them in circulation in ’81.

 

But all this is just me talking. I’ll ask on the Italian forum. In the meantime, Mynter, thanks for the fun I’ve had playing around with this.

 

:)  v.
 

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Saturno
good morning,
the answer is that already at the beginning of the eighties, the 20 lira coins did not circulate because their purchasing power was irrelevant. Then there is also the fact that it was the only bronze coin of the Republic minted before 200 lire in 1977, beautiful and shiny and for this reason many people kept them aside for a "collector's purpose", given the little value.
You may have seen a few pieces for 10 liras in 1981, because maybe there was still some "odd" price for which that value was needed, but then, I remember, all the prices of elementary things were rounded up to 50 lire ....
 
best regards

 

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Burkhard

It was also different from place to place. Being born and raised in Lombardy during the late 1980s / early 90s I can assure you that no coins with a face value below 50 lire were circulating. But in the small town in Liguria where I went on vacations back in those days prices were still rounded to the 5 lire, especially groceries. And furthermore some payments/taxes still involved odd numbers (post offices were the standard place to find 20 lire pieces).

I also was told that for some reason a lot of 20 lire coins were needed for the army to pay refund to people who served duty service. When my father served in the early 1980s he was payed with all new crisp banknotes and coins fresh from the mint.

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Saturno
I would add that in 1980 there was an annual inflation of 20% and all prices increased accordingly.
Look at this chart of ice creams from 1981, prices are adjusted to 50 lire.
 

pub_besana_gelati_1981_the_80s_database.jpg

 

Look this front page of newspaper; in 1981 it cost 400 lire

 

vermicino1.jpg

Edited by Saturno
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Burkhard

Keep in mind that 20 lire is equal to 1 euro cent, a coin that, despite having no purchasing power, is still in common circulation right now, nearly 40 years after.

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villa66
Il 7/25/2019 alle 2:38 AM, Burkhard dice:

It was also different from place to place.

I know this is plain common sense, but I think it's a very smart thing to say--and remember.

 

What you said about your Dad's military pay was most interesting. I kept hoping someone might add to it, but alas...

 

;) v. 

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Gallienus
Il 25/7/2019 alle 09:38, Burkhard dice:

It was also different from place to place. Being born and raised in Lombardy during the late 1980s / early 90s I can assure you that no coins with a face value below 50 lire were circulating. But in the small town in Liguria where I went on vacations back in those days prices were still rounded to the 5 lire, especially groceries. And furthermore some payments/taxes still involved odd numbers (post offices were the standard place to find 20 lire pieces).

I also was told that for some reason a lot of 20 lire coins were needed for the army to pay refund to people who served duty service. When my father served in the early 1980s he was payed with all new crisp banknotes and coins fresh from the mint.

Not in all Lombardy for sure. When I was young, in early '90s, in Bergamo, I collected hundreds of 20 £ (and thousands of 10 £) keeping them from circulation. Circulation of coins under 50 £ stopped here only since 1995.

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Paolino67

Se vogliamo dirla tutta, non è che le 20 lire negli anni 80 non circolassero... la realtà è che nessuno le voleva, esattamente come le 5 o 10 lire. Ricordo che spesso, in qualche esercizio commerciale che ancora non aveva prezzi arrotondati al 50 lire, cercavano di appioppartele come resto, ma praticamente sempre si preferiva avere di resto la classica caramella, o in alternativa si rifiutava addirittura il resto.... ricordo che un paio di volte a inizi anni '80 mi rifilarono una serie di 10 o 20 lire di resto al posto di un singolo pezzo da 50 o da 100 lire, e quando arrivai a casa con quelle "inservibili" monetine i miei addirittura mi sgridarono come se mi fossi fatto truffare. C'era all'epoca una vera e propria idiosincrasia per le monetine di valore facciale inferiore al 50 lire, ben peggiore di quella che oggi abbiamo per i centesimini... personalmente me lo spiego perchè probabilmente oggi la grande distribuzione la fa per la maggiore, e nei grandi supermercati/centri commerciali l'uso dei centesimi, sia nei prezzi che nei resti, è ancora parecchio diffuso. Al contrario all'epoca il commercio, soprattutto nei paesi, era ancora molto legato alle piccole botteghe, la gente non si spostava molto come è oggi, e questo tendeva a far sparire dalla circolazione i tagli più piccoli, irrilevanti e difficili da smerciare per le consuetudini dell'epoca. Anche perchè con l'inflazione in doppia cifra di quell'epoca queste monetine non valeva certo la pena conservarle nei cassetti come oggi fanno in molti con i centesimini placcati rame....

Edited by Paolino67
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villa66

I read you all (grazie per tutti!) and remembered some more, and came away with the following:

 

!)  The aluminum-bronze 20-lire of 1957-2001 did indeed die a natural death, done in by inflation. (Although it suffered from other disabilities along the way.) Pro forma quantities only were coined after 1992.)

 

2) During 1966-69, the coins in common circulation—in Napoli and the surrounding area, anyway—were the 5-, 10-, 50-, and 100-lire, with the 20-lire being somewhat less common, and the 500-lire, common at first, rapidly disappearing in favor of a paper note. (“Caravels” were seen much more often than “Centennials.”) The 1-lira and 2-lire were completely out of circulation. Very, very occasionally a Vatican City 100-lire from the ‘50s would show up. (American coins—mostly older than those circulating at home—circulated within the military community, and still had some currency locally—especially Kennedy half-dollars, which were always accepted.

 

3) In 1966-67 when I first saw them, the 20-lire pieces of 1957-58 (the only dates I saw) were worn and had clearly seen hard use.

 

4) In 1985, on a brief visit, the coins I saw in common circulation—in Napoli and the surrounding area, anyway—were the 50-, 100-, 200, and (bimetallic) 500-lire. The 10-lire was still circulating, but seemed much less common. I never saw a 5- or a 20-lire.

 

5) Until the 1977 advent of the aluminum-bronze 200-lire, the 20-lire coin was of singular appearance within the Italian series, and was often removed from circulation by collectors, accumulators and souvenir-hunters.

 

6) The rumors of the presence of gold in the 20-lire added to the pressure on the coin. Might that have been especially so during the gold frenzy of 1979-80? Maybe so. Heck, probably so. But that dynamic seems unlikely to have made any sort of disabling impact on the 20-lire’s circulating presence.  And certainly not, with the series’ production peak in in 1980-81.

 

7) A tantalizing mention was made of Italian soldiers being paid with freshly-struck 20-lire coins about 1979 or 1980, but the reference was not confined to 20-lire coins, and despite the prompt, no other posts mentioned anything similar.

 

#8 Finally, another disability afflicting the 20-lire was repeatedly mention. That is, the 20-lire, once inflation moved the cost of things beyond its specific price-points (where the coins were individually useful for exact payments or for making exact change), the more flexible 10-lire tended to crowd them out.

 

and...#( Kids sometimes got into trouble for bringing home "useless" 5-, 10- and 20-lire pieces. Yikes!

 

:D v.

 

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