Ethiopia EE1887-A 1/8 birr

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Courtesy Heritage Auctions
Courtesy Heritage Auctions

The coin shown is a silver eighth birr dated 1887 (Ethiopian Era). On the obverse is a portrait of King Menelik II. The date is along the base and is written in a format particular to Ethiopia, with and extra digit denoting magnitude. The reverse has the crowned lion of Judah with Amharic script in exergue. The mintmark for Paris (A) is below the lion.

Menelik II brought the Ethiopian Empire into the modern world. Previous to his reign, transactions were by barter, salt, or by imported coins such as the Maria Teresa Thaler[1]. He instituted a state coinage and successfully defended the empire against the attempted colonization by Italy in 1896. Ethiopia dates its coins using the Julian calendar, which is backdated approximately 7 years from the Gregorian calendar.

This specimen was lot 23616 on April 26, 2010, at the 2010 April Rosemont, IL CICF Signature World Coin Auction #3009 by Heritage Auctions. It brought $89. The catalog description reads: "Menelik II 1/8 Birr EE1887 (1894), XF, strong portrait."

Recorded mintage: 25,000.

Specifications: 3.509 g, 0.835 fine silver, 0.0942 oz ASW.

Catalog reference: KM 2.


  • Michael, Thomas, and Tracy L. Schmidt, Standard Catalog of World Coins, 1801-1900, 9th ed., Iola, WI: Krause Publications, 2019.
  • [1]Gill, Dennis, Coinage of Ethiopia, Eritrea, and Italian Somalia, New York: Printing Mart of Long Island, Inc, 1991.

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