Last time I talked about seeing that post about the old, early 20th Century 20 Centesimi Italian coins and going shopping for some raw Italian coins.
While doing this I got the idea to look to see if there were any nice, pretty, NGC-graded Italian coins that I could get for good prices. I thought she might like that – some cool MS coin if they were out there to be had.
I did a bit of eBaying and found a couple of sellers with MS66 to MS68 Italian coins from the 1980s and 1990s – mostly 50 Lire, 100 Lire, 200 Lire, and 500 Lire coins. I screen-capped some of them, sent them to her and asked Shandy what coins she liked the most. Somewhat to my surprise, she said she liked the 500 Lire bi-metallic the most. Remember that one? I made a post about it earlier this year after finding several in the coins from her father.
I really thought I’d get a little reaction out her on the 50 Lire with Vulcan’s naked butt, but no dice. She doesn’t like the face on the obverse as much. Way to kill a good joke, Love.
While we were having that conversation, I also got the idea to check to see if there were any categories for Italian coins from this era and what the competition looked like. I saw that the competition was a fair bit stiffer for the 100 Lira, but It would only take 1-2 coins each in the right grades to take the top spots in the 50 Lira and 500 Lira categories. I think these were / are new categories for 2021 so not a lot of sets, not a lot of coins and not a lot of fight to snag them. It would only cost me about $130 to snap up three coins and take a stab at winning those 2 categories, and I loved the idea. I immediately wanted to try to win those categories with set names and descriptions dedicating the sets to her. I was really in love with this idea.
So, since I’d need to go outside of my normal budget to pull this off and do it in time for the awards cut-off, I told her about the idea – actually got her to happy cry over it – and got the greenlight from her to do it / go for it / try to win these. I think it would have been more romantic to have just gone and done it and told her about it after the fact if I’d pulled it off, but 1) As I’ve said, I ask permission, not forgiveness, and that does good things for my marriage, 2) I was clearly too pleased with myself and she could tell I was up to something / planning something from the stupid grin on my face because I have no poker face, 3) I really wanted to share it with her and be able to talk to her about it as I progressed with it, to show her the coins and the banner images and let her read and approve the descriptions.
I was able to win the coins - all three now reside in a curio cabinet in her office on little stands along with some dragons that I got years ago.
I popped them into the registry sets about 2-3 weeks ago, right in the middle of November… spent FOREVER working on different versions of the banner image for them and harassed poor Mike endlessly for about a week there bouncing ideas off him. I also did some quick research and populated the sets with good descriptions to go with the best images I could manage to take – the alloys those coins are made of are HARD to shoot. They do not image well or easily IMO.
I think Shandy warmed to the idea of the 50 Lire coin when she found out that the person is supposed to be Vulcan, who in mythology made his forge in Mt Etna – the volcano they lived on the side of while they lived in Italy.
And… then I waited to see if anyone else with a stronger set would list it before December 1st… and no one did. So… I think I won the categories for her for this year, and I’ll get to give her the certificates for these in a few months.
Ti amerò per sempre (I will love you forever, in Italian, at least, according to Google. Any Italians? Anyone want to confirm?).
So, what’s the next step for this? … Because I totally have a plan and I’m totally not just impulsively buying random stuff... Totally!
Her father brought home a few of these that look really nice from 1990 and 1991. I’ve bought a few more raw examples in lots online for about $16, and I now have a 1984, a 1985, and a 1988 in a raw state that all look solid – a 1992 too, but that’s less helpful given that I just bought an MS67. I also have a 1987 that I’m a little more “meh” about.
I’m wanting to spend about $150-200 next year and send several of these in to get graded by NGC and add those to the set. This will mean that the 500 Lire set – the one she picked as her favorite design of that group - will have 1) mostly coins we picked and had graded ourselves, and 2) coins from that bag of coins her father brought back with them. Coins they got and brought back from Italy with them nearly 30 years ago, one of which from one of the years they were in the country if she remembers correctly (she was young at the time).
I suppose it’s not quite the same as “slaying a dragon” but I think it works pretty well as romantic gestures go. That feels like about the best Registry tribute I can give her. I’ll let you guys know if I come up with a better one later. I’m not really sure what more can be expected of a safety engineer and a coin nerd. I slay cockroaches, if that counts for anything.
If the 1990 and 1991 don't grade as well as I'm hoping they may ultimately hurt the set from a competitive standpoint down the road if I end up catching more competition, but I still just like the idea of incorporating that into the set.
I don’t know if or to what extent I’ll pursue building the 50 Lire set and try to defend that title in years going forward. It’ll definitely take a backseat to doing something with the 500 Lira set just because that’s the one she picked.
And, yes, there was not a chance I was going to talk or post about this until after December 1st, after it was done. Not this time. I’ve made enough competition for myself in Zimbabwe, and I didn’t want to broadcast it and then have it flop. That would have been... embarrassing.
And, yes, I’ve been up to this while also working on Banner images and Zimbabwe coins. I have been quite the busy boy this month, and during the Thanksgiving holiday, and any flex-day off from work. But this, in particular, has been completely worth it, because it made her happy. And posting about it is worth it, even though I’m probably just going to ultimately make my life harder by calling attention to it. Because if I’m going to go on at such length about my other silliness, I have to brag up a win for her, at least once it actually is a win.