Goldberg Coins and Collectibles

Sale 46

The Millennia Collection

Lot Photo Description Realized
Lot 892
Ethiopia. Birr, EE 1887 (1894)-A. KM-5; Dav-29. Menelik II, 1889-1913. Crowned and draped bust right; Ethiopian legends. Reverse: Crowned lion holding patriarchal cross with banner; Ethiopian legends. Especially full strike. A few scattered, modest contact marks on the obverse, otherwise the devices with handsome satiny luster, on very reflective fields. Lovely iridescent toning, tending to blue and rose. NGC graded MS-65.
Estimated Value $1,000 - 1,250.
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Lot 893
Ethiopia. Birr, EE1892 (1899). KM-19; Y-10; Dav-30. Menelik II, 1889-1913. Crowned bust right. Reverse: Crowned Lion of Judah holding long cross. Peripheral toning. Mirror surfaces. Some light hairlines and reverse marks. NGC graded Proof 62.

Self-proclaimed as a descendent of the legendary Queen of Sheba and King Solomon, Menelik II was certainly one of the most interesting and notable African personalities of his time. Through force of will, diplomacy, plus a ready acceptance of and interest in modern weaponry (developing the best equipped army in northeast Africa), he managed to weld together a number of small, diparate, and often antipathetic kingdoms and tribes into the United Kingdom of Abyssinia. As King he signed a treaty with Italy, who already had colonial interests in the area, ceding them Eritrea to ensure that his kingdom would be free. However, the treaty was written in two languages. When Menelik discovered that the Italian version declared his kingdom to be a protectorate of Italy, he promptly voided the treaty. Italy's response was to declare war on him in 1895. Ethiopia astonished the Colonial Powers a year later by handing Italy a stunning defeat, forcing Italy and other European nations to recognize Ethiopia's independence. Menelik spent the rest of his reign working on the modernization of his country.
As an adjunct, the king began introducing a modern, European-compatible coinage in 1894. Among these was the silver birr, a thaler-sized coin he promoted as a replacement for the popular Maria Theresa Thalers restrikes, which had a long history of use in the Near East and Africa. The Paris mint designed for him a very handsome coin, but it was a failure. Apparently his subjects would not cease their love affair with the familiar Austrian piece of silver.
Estimated Value $400 - 500.
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