Italian Faces

Posted on 5/21/2019

Da Vinci and Michelangelo are not the only famous Italian faces on banknotes.

Italy has had a wide range of people who have influenced the world. To honor them, Italy has put characters such as Da Vinci and Michelangelo on their banknotes. These Italians are well known around the world. This article will shed some light on some of the lesser known, but still notable Italians on banknotes.

A volt is a unit of measurement for electrical potential. The term volt is coined from the original creator of an electrochemical battery, Alessandro Volta. Italy featured Alessandro Volta on the obverse of the 10,000 Lire along with the battery he invented known as a voltaic pile. The reverse of the note shows the Volta Temple which houses some of his tools, belongings and original batteries created by him. Volta not only influenced electrical physics but he also first identified methane by searching for a “flammable air” in a marsh in northern Italy. His discoveries changed the world of science, and the banknote he is featured on is a small token of appreciation to his accomplishments.

A physician and educator by the name of Maria Montessori influenced Italy and the world with her teachings. Dr. Montessori developed a new way of creating learning environments. She observed that not all children were able to excel in a rigid learning environment, which was the norm at the time. She created a classroom designed for the age of the children with smaller desks and an open environment that allowed the children to feel more comfortable and have more freedom. In this environment, the children sought to learn, which improved focus and their grasp of the teachings. Soon, her philosophy of children being more independent in a learning environment spread around the world and has become a staple for teaching young children. She is featured prominently on the front of the 1000 Lire of 1990 due to her great impact on education.

Italy, Banca d'Italia, Pick# 114a, 1990, 1000 Lire, front.
PMG Graded 67 Superb Gem Uncirculated EPQ
Click image to enlarge.

Arguably the heart of Rome, the Vatican sought the help of the famous sculptor and architect Bernini in numerous projects. Gian Lorenzo Bernini featured on the 50,000 Lire, shows a hallway from the Vatican that is known as the Scala Regia and an image of the Sculptor on the obverse. This hallway is the formal entrance into the Basilica from the Vatican Palace and was restored by Bernini in the 1600s. The note also shows on the reverse, the statue of the “Vision of Constantine,” which was also done by Bernini. The statue is said to commemorate when Constantine saw a cross in the sky, believing that it was a sign from God, signifying that he would win the battle against Maxentius at the Battle of Milvian Bridge. This battle would make Constantine the sole emperor of Rome and the “First Christian Emperor.” Bernini also helped with creating the Baldachin and the chair of St. Peter, which both are focal points of St. Peter’s Basilica. His works have been viewed by millions in the Vatican, and the banknote below helps pay tribute to such an influential artist.

Italy, Banca d'Italia, Pick# 116a, 1992, 50,000 Lire, front.
PMG Graded 67 Superb Gem Uncirculated EPQ
Click image to enlarge.

Italy, Banca d'Italia, Pick# 116a, 1992, 50,000 Lire, back.
PMG Graded 67 Superb Gem Uncirculated EPQ
Click image to enlarge.

Owning a note with one of these historic Italians is within reach to any collector. Most of the notes mentioned and their varieties in high PMG grades are going for less than $100 in auctions. Check out the PMG Registry and start your collection of historic Italians on banknotes.


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