Ethiopia EE1895 birr

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Courtesy Heritage Auctions
Courtesy Heritage Auctions

The coin shown is a silver one birr, dated 1895 (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 one 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.

This specimen was lot 74414 on June 2, 2008, at the 2008 June Long Beach, CA World Coin Final Session #3001 by Heritage Auctions. It brought $161. The catalog description reads: "Menelik II Birr or Talari EE1895 (1903), toned AU, sharp details, small surface marks."

Recorded mintage: 459,000.

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

Catalog reference: KM 19.


  • 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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