In 1935, Italy invaded Ethiopia, tipping off the Second Italo-Ethiopian War. To bolster gold reserves, the Italian government, under Mussolini, made a plea to its citizens to exchange all of their wedding rings and jewelry and even false teeth for these stacks of iron bands. Fascist officers in Rome supervised the exchange.
But what’s crazier than that is that Italian-Americans helped with the effort as well. Per shoeleatherhistoryproject.com, Mussolini proponent Father Andrew J. Kelly, pastor of St. Anthony’s Church in Hartford’s Italian east end in Connecticut, convinced 500 Hartford women to give up their gold bands at a blessing ceremony on Sunday, May 24, 1936. “The substitution of iron for gold wedding rings by Italian wives,” the priest said, “symbolizes… the unanimity of Italian sentiment in favor of its government.”