Italian Invasion Currency

After the invasion of Sicily in 1943, the allied forces introduced their own currency to supplement the existing Italian lire notes and coins in circulation. These notes were to be remarkably long lasting, remaining in circulation as late as 1950. The notes themselves were printed in the United States and had the denominations of 1, 2, 5, 10, 50, 100, 500 and 1000 lire. The first four of these denominations were square in shape:

The initial batches of notes did not have the country of issue, or the name of the currency printed on them to help hide where troops were going to invade. A revised set of notes was published in 1943 that did include this information and a number of changes were made over the years. Different colours were used to distinguish different values. Here the 2 lire note is printed with a pink border:

Whilst the 10 lire note is printed with a black border:

The reverse of each note had the same design with the four basic human freedoms, as set out by Roosevelt in his four freedoms speech, Freedom of Speech, Freedom of Religion, Freedom from Want and Freedom from Fear:

The notes themselves were printed on rag paper using lithography in an attempt to prevent counterfeiting. The notes were widely copied though and whilst some were crude, others were almost indistinguishable from the real thing. The exchange rate had been set at 100 lire to $1 and helped contribute to inflation in Italy. The inflation was so great that as time went on they stopped producing the 1 and 2 lire notes as they were essentially worthless. 917.7 million notes, of differing denominations, were printed and shipped to Italy taking up 758 tons of shipping.

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