The Italian Mint have released the Italian contribution to the 2017 Europa Star numismatic programme. The Europa Star Initiative is an entirely voluntary programme where European member states issue precious metal commemorative coins around a common theme every year.
The programme is currently in the second year of issue for a new five year theme entitled : The Five Ages of Europe. The theme for 2017 pays homage to the industrial age and is being styled as the Age of Iron and Glass.
To depict this theme Italy has perhaps chosen the perfect subject as inspiration for the design of this new coin : The Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, in Milan. The structure is renowned for it's four barreled glass and iron vaulted arcades, intersecting in a magnificent cast iron and glass dome at it's centre.
The Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, named after the first king of the Kingdom of Italy - Victor Emanuelle II, is one of the worlds oldest surviving shopping centres. Construction began in 1865 and was completed in 1877, under the supervision of it's designed Giuseppe Mengoni.
The structure consists of four arcades meeting in the centre to form a massive octagonal square. The site is three stories high and houses 97 stores. The most famous feature is undoubtedly the glass and iron dome covering the square. The dome measures 37.5 m(123 ft) in diameter and is 17.1m(56.1 ft) high, and stands as a marvel of 19th century construction.
The interior of the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II is also lavishly decorated. The floor of the centre square is adorned with the coat of arms of Milan, Florence, Turin and Milan. The coat arms of Turin depicts a rampant bull and over the years a superstition has developed that if you place your heel between the bull's hind legs, and spin completely around with your eyes closed – it will bring you good luck. As a result the coat of arms of Turin has developed a round hole from everyone spinning in place on the same spot.
The four arches above the walkway have impressive murals measuring 7.5(24.6 ft) by 15 meters(49 ft) each depicting allegorical representations on the four parts of the world : Africa, Europa, Asia and America. The smaller arches above the two side entrances are decorated with allegorical representations of the “Activities of Man”, all set against a golden backdrop. These represent agriculture, the sciences, industry and the arts.
The reverse of the coin reproduces the glass dome and two of the four arcades with a view of the mural of Europa in the middle, as might be seen from inside the octagonal square of the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II. All of the steel and stone parts of the construction forming the relief of the coin with a frosted finish, and the glass left with a high proof finish for impressive effect. The coin's denomination is noted at the centre of the dome “10 EURO” and the date of issue, “2017”, just below. Along the edges of the dome appear the words : “GALLERIA VITTORIO EMANUELE II” with a single dot punctuating the space between each word. Then finally the phrase “ARCHITETTURE DEL FERRO” is engraved horizontally across the coin, effectively separating the glass and iron roof from the rest of the building.
The obverse in turn represents the Europa Star initiative. The centre part of the design depicts a female face representing Europa, she is surrounded by elements taken from the Italian coat of arms. Oak branches to the left, cogwheels to the right all contained in side a larger five pointed star with a mural crown between the upper two points. The Europa Star logo is sculpted to the bottom, with the “R” mint mark displayed to the lower right indicating the coin's origin from the Rome Mint. “REPUBBLICA ITALIANA” is engraved along the rim to the left.
The coin is struck from 22 gram(0.776 oz)of sterling silver and measures 34 mm(1.3385 inch) in diameter.The proof quality coin has a legal tender face value of ten Euros and carries a limited mintage of 5000 coins total. The coin can now be ordered directly from the Italian Mint website at a cost of €60.00 each, alternatively it should be obtainable from most of the larger world coin dealers.
All in all this is a very attractive coin design, very reminiscent of Monnaie de Paris's treasures of Paris series(only excluding the gold and rhodium cladding those coins receive), and one of the reasons that I personally like the Europa star programme so much. The initiative tends to deliver high quality designs and interesting coins on a consistent basis.