Saturday, July 26, 2008

Animal Coins Part 1 - Ethiopian Lions


As of late, I have been studying (and selling) coins with various animals on them. In the process of doing so I have made a few discoveries. Unless you are talking about those coins that are made strictly for collector consumption by the Pobjoy & Perth mints, a large bulk of animal coins will have Eagles or Lions on them. Just something noble about those creatures I suppose that makes them part of many nation's insignias.

What makes Ethiopia stand out in it's use of the Lion is it is not just any Lion but the 'Lion of Judah', a religious symbol. Until recent years, Ethiopia had it's own distinct (Felasha) Jewry who had fled Israel and had traveled down the Nile until they eventually settled in Ethiopia. Many later became Christian converts and Ethiopia was one of the 1st 'Christian nations' in world history. Both Christians and Jews believed that the Biblical Ark of the Covenant rested in a little Church in Axum where it is allegedly guarded by a little old monk. It is regarded as not just holy but powerful and this is why it is concealed from view from the general public according to the Ethiopian Orthodox Church.

Here are some coins from earlier in the 20th century:

10 Matonas - 1923EE / 1930/31 AD

25 Matonas - 1923EE / 1930/31 AD

50 Matonas - 1923EE / 1930/31 AD

25 Santims - 1936EE / 1943/44 AD (But actually minted in 1952/53 according to Krause-Mishler)

TTFN, Ta-Ta-For-Now (as Tigger would say)

Jim McGarigle
Polymath Numismatics

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