Numismatics – The collections


The pleasure of collecting lies also in the freedom to collect what you want, choosing which collection to pursue and with which specimens to embellish it. Numismatics offers almost infinite possibilities because it embraces a temporal and geographical span of over twenty-five centuries and thousands of kilometers. Bolaffi meets the wishes of collectors by offering a wide selection and ensuring the tranquility of having actually circulated specimens. From the first specimens, which were irregular and simple, to the coins of the Italian Republic, from the coinage of the Roman and Byzantine emperors to those of the great European monarchs, from florins and zecchini of Florence and Venice to the gold coins of the popes, from the pre-unitary specimens to those of the Kingdom of Italy. All are accompanied by the Bolaffi guarantee of authenticity, provenance and state of preservation.



From the first simple coins in electrum of the legendary king Croesus to the sought-after silver coins of Syracuse, splendid for their workmanship and artistic refinement, up to the first portrait of a still-living man on coins, Alexander the Great. The Greek coins, which convey stories of the deities, the heroes and the symbols of an entire civilization, are still today among the most fascinating for their beauty, history and value.


The Roman coinage spans seven centuries, during which it shows off a rich gallery of portraits with new, original and curious features. There are emperors, but also their wives, mothers and daughters (the Auguste) and later court figures, generals and even usurpers. From east to west and from north to south, across three continents, the coinage represented for the Romans what today is the European common currency, the euro before the euro.


In the roughly thousand years of the Byzantine empire, from 395 to 1453, there were ninety emperors, each with their own coins almost all characterized by the presence of the cross, of Christ and of the saints, so much so that it is difficult to find a historical period in which ties between money and religion were closer.


Genovini, florins and zecchini paid for the works of the most important Renaissance artists. With these coins the merchants traded fabrics and precious stones and the monarchs financed wars and conquests of new continents.


The coinage of the Subalpine Republic begins with an extraordinary specimen, the marengo coined to celebrate Napoleon’s victory at Marengo; it is also the first gold decimal coin in Europe.


Politically the monetization of the Italian Risorgimento was very incisive; the pro-Savoy governments that were constituted abrogated the old monetary systems to adopt the decimal one of Napoleonic style, reaffirming the desire for national unity.


Carlini, reali, doppie and cagliaresi are repealed. With Vittorio I the monetization of the Kingdom of Sardinia conforms to the decimal standards and the Piedmontese lira is born. The choice is also supported by kings Carlo Felice and Carlo Alberto. The length of king Vittorio Emanuele II’s neck marks the passage from the Kingdom of Sardinia to the Kingdom of Italy.


After the issues of Vittorio Emanuele II, who became the king of Italy, and those of Umberto I, the very wide variety of coinage of Vittorio Emanuele III, the “numismatic king” (to whom we owe the first commemorative issue), experimented with all the artistic and propaganda possibilities of coins.


From the poor metals that characterize the first post-war coinage to the artistic specimens coined in gold and silver only for collectors, the lira portrayed events, figures and symbols of the Republic until 2002, when Italy adopted the euro, the common currency of the European Union.


The Church has a spiritual influence on over a billion people and its coins also have a transnational and universal vocation. Since 1929, when the Vatican restarted printing after the last coinage of Pius IX, these coins have had the same characteristics and the same standards as the Italian ones, although differing in subjects, of which most are religious.


The first Italian banknote arrives with Umberto I in 1882, the year in which the kingdom begins to manage paper money without relying on the banks of the ancient pre-unification states, fourteen years after the first issue of the Bank of Italy, which was intended to be the only body responsible for issuing and managing such currency.


The first banknotes of the Republic are issued in March 1947. Since the 1960s, the style has changed also with respect to the choice of subjects, up until the 500-thousand lira depicting Raffaello, which concludes the emissions in lira to make way for the euro.

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