Obverse. Photo © Heritage Auctions
  • 50 Matonas 1931, KM# 31, Ethiopia, Haile Selassie
  • 50 Matonas 1931, KM# 31, Ethiopia, Haile Selassie

Haile Selassie I (1892–1975), born Tafari Makonnen Woldemikael, was Ethiopia's regent from 1916 to 1930 and emperor from 1930 to 1974. His reign with an interruption during WWII when Italian forces invaded. During this time the king lived in exile, returning when patriotic Ethiopian forces, with the help of British troops, ousted the Italian army. He was a member of the Solomonic Dynasty. Haile Selassie died on 27 August 1975 at the age of 83, following a coup d'état.

Among the Rastafari movement, whose followers are estimated at between two and four million, Haile Selassie is revered as the returned messiah of the Bible, God incarnate. Beginning in Jamaica in the 1930s, the Rastafari movement perceives Haile Selassie as a messianic figure who will lead a future golden age of eternal peace, righteousness, and prosperity.

The Ethiopian Empire, also known as Abyssinia, was a kingdom that spanned a geographical area in the current state of Ethiopia. It existed from approximately 1137 (establishment of the Zagwe dynasty) until 1974, when the ruling Solomonic dynasty was overthrown in a coup d'état by the Derg.


Right-facing bust of a bearded Haile Selassie in coronation robes and crown. Inscribed counterclockwise along the periphery of the first piece is the Amharic caption, which translates as "Imperial Majesty Haile Selassie I, 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. Value in Amharic below.

ቀዳማዊ፡ ኃይለ፡ ሥላሴ፡ ንጉሠ ፡ ነገሥት ፡ ዘኢትዮጵያ።
፶ መቶኛ።


Right-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, which translates as "Conquering Lion of the Tribe of Judah". Value below.

ሞዓ፡ አንበሳ፡ ዘእምነገደ፡ ይሁዳ፡

Material Nickel
Weight 7.11 g
Diameter 26.7 mm
Thickness -
Shape round
Alignment Medal
Addis Ababa Mint

Related coins

Copper, 2.892 g, ⌀ 17 mm

Brass, 6 g, ⌀ 22.8 mm

Brass, 6.63 g, ⌀ 25.5 mm