Ethiopia EE1889-A birr

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ETH 1889A-EE 1birr-obv (2).JPG
ETH 1889A-EE 1birr-rev (2).JPG

The coin shown is a silver one birr dated 1889 (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 shown below the lion. The 1 birr was the 'crown' denomination, and was designed to be equivalent to the Maria Teresa Thaler.

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.

Recorded mintage: 418,000.

Specifications: 28.075 g, 0.835 fine silver, 0.7537 ASW.

Catalog reference: KM 5.


  • 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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