Counterfeit Detection

Italy 1914 5 Lire

Published July 1, 2024 | 2 min read

By Numismatic Guaranty Company

Among Italy’s most beautiful coins is the 1914 5 lire, which shows King Victor Emmanuel III on the obverse and Minerva riding a quadriga on the reverse. The designer was Davide Calandra, a renowned Italian sculptor who designed coins late in his career. Helping to make the artistry more powerful is the coin’s large format—its weight (25g) and diameter (37mm) are nearly equal to a Morgan dollar.  

Genuine examples of this coin generally sell for thousands of dollars. Numismatic Guaranty Company (NGC) recently received a purported example of a 1914 5 lire. Besides being struck mostly in copper and nickel rather than the expected 90-percent silver, the coin had plenty of other red flags.

Problems related to the design are rampant on both sides of the coin. On the obverse, the letters fade into the field and the king’s hair lacks detail. Below the bust, the designer’s name is so poorly defined that it’s nearly indecipherable. On the reverse, Minerva also fades into the background and is missing much of her detail. In addition, both the coin’s color and surface texture are not in line with genuine examples.

Whether you are considering purchasing a key-date silver coin worth thousands of dollars or something a little more common, remember that NGC backs its determinations of authenticity and grade with the NGC Guarantee.

A version of this article appears in the August 2024 issue of The Numismatist (