Well it has been a while since I actually bought a coin and 2020 turned out to be the first year in a long time that I didn’t pick up multiple lots at the major European auctions over the autumn. I should say this was not from a lack of trying, it is just that I was outbid on the lots I was interested in – sometimes quite spectacularly – so I was delighted when I picked up a 1809 20 Lire from the Milan mint of Napoleonic Italy in AU58 (although the mintage is 52,640 there are only 27 coins graded at NGC for this date and my coin is tied with one other at this grade with only a single coin finer at MS62).
Just to complicate things there are two known varieties for the 1809 issue which, like 1808, these differ in the stars on the reverse. For the 1808 varieties there are 3 or 6 stars on either side of the standard whereas the 1809 coins both have 3 stars in the design however it is the star below the crown which is now different and this has either 5-points or 6-points. In some examples the 6-point star looks very much like one 5-point star on top of another and these two interpretations exist in the reference books.
Corpus Nummorum Italicorum (1913), Pagani (1965), Krause and NGC do not differentiate between these varieties. Gadoury (2019) and PCGS highlight 5-pointed (4@XF45 and 2@AU53) and 6-pointed stars (one each at XF45, AU53 and MS62) whereas Montenegro (2020) describes the second variety as a 5-pointed star over another. Gigante (2021) highlights a total of four varieties, which are a combination of the normal 5-pointed star and one with extra points on the reverse coupled with two obverse dies depending on the position of the M mintmark relative to the 0 in the date, with this latter difference being known for the later dates.
I find coins endlessly fascinating however it is such details which means that the search is never over and it looks like I need to find at least 3 more varieties for 1809M!