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The birr is the unit of currency in Ethiopia. Before 1976, dollar was the official English translation of birr. Today, it is officially birr in English as well. The currency was first intruduced in 1893 and was equivalent to the Levant Tallero or Maria Theresa thaler, which were the official currency beneath item money called amoleh (blocks of salt).
Right-facing bust of a bearded Menelik II wearing monarchical clothing and the Imperial Crown of Ethiopia. Inscribed counterclockwise along the periphery of the first piece is the Amharic caption, which translates as "Menelik II, King of Kings of Ethiopia". The legend is divided at the top by the cross on the king's crown. The five-digit Ethiopian date (EE) of minting appears in Ge'ez (Ethiopic) numerals at the bottom of the piece, arched counterclockwise along the rim.
Left-facing rendition of the Lion of Judah, a symbol of the Jewish tribe of Judah which appeared commonly on Ethiopian heraldry. In the Ethiopian context, the use of the symbol represents the claimed descendance of the Ethiopian monarchs from King Solomon (970–931 BC) of the Judaic House of David. Inscribed along the upper periphery of the piece is the Amharic caption. The value 'Aned birr is written below the image of the lion, the cornucopia mark of Paris to the left and the torch mark of Patey to the right. The signature of the designer Jules-Clément Chaplain is inscribed in small print to the right of the lion's hind leg, counterclockwise along the rim.
The Amharic national motto of the Ethiopian Empire, translating as "Conquering Lion of the Tribe of Judah".
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