The Istituto Poligrafico Zecca della Stato (IPZS) have made available new silver collector coins (12th April) which focus not only on Italian design and excellence, but specifically on one product to have emerged from the economic boom after the end of the Second World War, the Vespa.
It was actually in 1944 that Piaggio engineers Renzo Spolti and Vittorio Casini put their idea to paper and designed a motorcycle with bodywork that fully enclosed the drivetrain and formed a tall splash guard at the front. In addition to the bodywork, the design included handlebar-mounted controls, forced air cooling, wheels of small diameter, and a tall central section that had to be straddled. Incredibly forward-thinking at the time, the design was immediately well-received, and, as a consequence, much of the original design was re-worked by aeronautical engineer Corradino D’Ascanio on the instructions of the management of Enrico Piaggio. Upon seeing the re-worked prototype model for the first time, Enrico Piaggio exclaimed: “Sembra una vespa!” (“It looks like a wasp!”) And it was this moment when Piaggio effectively named his new scooter on the spot. Of course, the word Vespa is both Latin and Italian for wasp, and it also accurately described the vehicle’s body shape — with a thicker rear part connected to the front part by a narrow waist, and the steering rod resembling antennae. On the 23rd April 1946, precisely at 12 o’clock and in the central office for inventions, models and makes of the Ministry of Industry and Commerce in Florence, Piaggio e C. S.p.A. took out a patent for a “motorcycle of a rational complexity of organs and elements combined with a frame with mud-guards and a casing covering the whole mechanical part.”
With the complexities of registering design out of the way, Piaggio now aimed to manufacture the new Vespa in large numbers, thanks to their longstanding industrial experience and an efficient Ford-style volume assembly and production line. The scooter was presented to the press at Rome Golf Club, where journalists were apparently mystified by the strange, pastel coloured, toy-like object on display. However, the road tests were encouraging, and even with no rear suspension, the machine was more maneuverable and comfortable to ride than a traditional motorcycle. Following its official launch and public debut at the 1946 Milan Fair, the first 50 sold slowly, but with the introduction of payment by installments, sales took off with sales of 2,500 Vespas in 1947, over 10,000 in 1948, 20,000 in 1949, and over 60,000 in 1950. Hollywood also did their part on promotion, in terms of creating an iconic image of Italy and Rome post-war. In 1952, Audrey Hepburn side-saddled Gregory Peck’s Vespa in the feature film Roman Holiday for a ride through Rome. Their trek through the city resulted in over 100,000 sales.
Today, after more than 73 years since its debut, the Vespa has enjoyed robust sales in practically every country on every continent and with 34 models which have been built, the Vespa is essentially a “must have” with many young riders who not only live in metropolitan areas but also in suburbia or in remote towns and villages. It is known that since their introduction, more than 16 million Vespa’s have been sold and are currently manufactured in 13 countries.
The new coins, which include colour application to the Vespa, are designed by Maria Carmela Colaneri. The obverse design depicts a boy and a girl on a modern model of the Vespa in three different colours, and in the background, the Coliseum of Rome. The composition is dominated by the inscription REPUBBLICA ITALIANA, and below, the name of the designer COLANERI. The reverse side includes a graphic composition of profile and front views of the Vespa with Piaggio trademark elements and stylised features. Above, is the value 5 EURO, along with the name VESPA in the characteristic italics of the logo of the most famous scooter in the world. On the right is the letter “R,” identifying the Mint of Rome, and below, on the right, is the year of the coin’s issue 2019.
|€5 x 3||
|18 g||32 mm||Proof with applied Colour||
The coins still available separately are the red and white coloured Vespa examples. Each coin is encapsulated and housed in a branded IPZS custom case, which is also accompanied by a numbered certificate of authenticity.
The three-coin set is available in a custom presentation. For additional information about this coin and others available from the IPZS, please visit their website.