Incredible Albanian Prova 100 Franga Ari

This week’s preview for the Stack’s Bowers Galleries Official World Coin Auction of the Whitman Coin & Collectibles Expo is a stunning large Albanian gold piece. This Prova (pattern or test) denominated at 100 Franga Ari was issued with a very low mintage of just 50 pieces. This fact, in addition to its being one of only three at this numeric grade with just two examples certified finer by either PCGS or NGC assures its desirability. This coin is from Albania during the presidency (military dictatorship) of Amet Zogu, future self-declared king of Albania. Though nominally a Republic and later a Constitutional Monarchy, in truth Zog I – as his official regnal name – was a dictator, suppressing civil liberties, murdering political opponents and censoring the press. In addition to his vast executive powers he also held substantial legislative powers. Despite his considerable domestic influence he held little sway in foreign affairs, partially due to his Islamic heritage which alienated him from the predominately Christian European leaders. He did enjoy strong connections to Muslim royal families in the Arab world, particularly Egypt. One of Zog’s greatest European backers was Mussolini of Fascist Italy, and it was in Rome that a large portion of Albania’s coinage (including this Prova issue) was struck.

The obverse design is a fairly simple head of the President facing left, with his name appearing around. The reverse features an impressive design by Giuseppe Romagnoli, a prolific engraver at the Rome mint responsible for many Albanian and Italian coinage designs of the time period. The design features a nude male atop a biga, in heroic pose with a drape about his torso, with the two rearing horses pulling the biga. Details pertaining to the coin are displayed in exergue; “ALBANIA- SHQIPNI / 1927 / Fr. A. 100.” The charioteer and biga are free of major marks and this, combined with satiny fields and sharp legends and rims, creates a stellar example of this popular type. This Prova is sure to become a treasured highlight in the next collection it calls home.

Look for this and other world numismatic rarities in our November 5-10, 2015 official auction of the Whitman Coin & Collectibles Baltimore Expo. For details please refer to the Events Calendar link at Though our Stack’s Bowers November Baltimore Auction is no longer open for consignments, we are accepting consignments of world and ancient coins for our January New York International Auction as well as Chinese and other Asian coins and currency for our December 2015 Hong Kong Showcase Auction. Time is running short, so if you are interested in consigning your coins and paper currency (whether a whole collection or a single rarity) be sure to contact one of our consignment directors.

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