Ethiopia EE1888-A 1/2 gersh

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Courtesy Heritage Auctions
Courtesy Heritage Auctions

The coin shown is a copper half gersh dated 1888 (Ethiopian Era). On the obverse is a portrait of King Menelik II. The reverse has Amharic script with the mintmark for Paris (A) at the base of the beaded circle. At the base of the reverse is the date, written in a format particular to Ethiopia, with and extra digit denoting magnitude At a mintage of 200, this is a rare one-year type coin. A half gersh is equivalent to 1/40 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[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 50988 on Jan 7, 2007, at the 2007 January New York Signature World Coin Auction #425 by Heritage Auctions. It brought $3,593.75. The catalog description reads: "Menelik II 1/2 Gersh 1888EE (1896), glossy brown UNC with considerable original luster, especially on the reverse. Very rare type with a total mintage of 200. Struck at the Paris Mint with the 'A' mintmark."

Recorded mintage: 200.

Specifications: copper.

Catalog reference: KM 7.


  • 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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