Ethiopia EE1887-A gersh
The coin shown is a silver one gersh dated 1887 (Ethiopian Era). On the obverse is a portrait of King Menelik II. The date, written below, is a format particular to Ethiopia, with and extra digit denoting magnitude. The reverse has the lion of Judah with Amharic script in exergue, and the mintmark for Paris (A) at the base of the lion. Twenty gersh equal one birr.
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. 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 50993 at the 2007 January New York Signature World Coin Auction #425 by Heritage Auctions. It brought $431.25. The catalog description read: "Menelik II 1/4 Bir 1887EE (1895), deeply toned UNC, prooflike surfaces, possibly originally part of the specimen set produced for this year by the Paris Mint, very scarce with only 15,000 struck."
Recorded mintage: 15,000.
Specifications: 1.403 g, 0.835 fine silver, 0.0377 ASW.
Catalog reference: KM 3.
- Michael, Thomas, and Tracy L. Schmidt, Standard Catalog of World Coins, 1801-1900, 9th ed., Iola, WI: Krause Publications, 2019.
- Gill, Dennis, Coinage of Ethiopia, Eritrea, and Italian Somalia, New York: Printing Mart of Long Island, Inc, 1991.