101605 | ITALY. Benito Mussolini Art Deco bronze Medal.
101605 | ITALY. Benito Mussolini bronze Medal. Issued 1925. Mussolini becomes the Duce of the Italian people (80mm, 197.95 g, 12h). By A. Mistruzzi in Rome.
BENITVS • MVSSOLINVS DVX • MCMXXV, bust left, wearing Collar of the Supreme Order of the Most Holy Annunciation / ITALIAM • VEHIT • FORTVNAMQVE • SVAM, muscular helmsman, with billowing drapery, standing facing, head left, steering the Italian State under Facsism. Edge: A few light stains, otherwise plain.
Gem Mint State. Brilliant light brown-bronze surfaces, with a slight matte nature. An impressive and highly artistic piece, very rare in this larger module. Compare to similar examples, though not as attractive as this piece, in Nomisma 55 (lot 529, 4 April 2017) and 58 (lot 748, 6 November 2018), which realized total prices of over $800 and $640.
Benito Mussolini rose during the later stages of World War I in Italy, playing upon a desire to return the nation to the opulence and expanse of the ancient Roman Empire. He espoused a form of government known as fascism—its name drawing from the fasces, an Etruscan word for a battleaxe surrounded by a bundle of rods. This ideology sought a cohesion of the workforce in which the goal was the advancement of the state, not the individual or the business. It also sought an expansion of the state geographically through conquest, such as in Eritrea, Somalia, and Ethiopia—a paralleling of the growth around the Mediterranean of the Roman Empire. Mussolini became the youngest Prime Minister in Italy at the time in 1922, and began his fascist agenda with an iron fist. His strong man tactics inspired other far-right totalitarians or the interwar period, such as Adolf Hitler and Francisco Franco, and played a role in Italy's close ties with Hitler's Germany in the lead-up to and early years of World War II. Stalled campaigns in 1943 left Italy vulnerable, as she had overextended herself during the previous decade. This resulted in colossal damage to Mussolini's stature, with the Grand Council voting a motion of no confidence in him, along with the king removing him from his role as Prime Minister and placing him in custody. He was later freed by German forces, and installed as the head of a short-lived puppet régime in Northern Italy. Just 19 months later, however, this government collapsed—a sign of what would happen for the other axis powers, Germany and Japan, in the coming months. Mussolini was captured, along with his mistress, in Dongo, and they were then executed in Giulino di Mezzegra, with their bodies subsequently hung from their feet so that their downfall could be observed by the nation.