These coins come from German East Africa, a colonial state that was mostly located in modern day Tanzania. Established in the late 19th century, the colony was a product of the Scramble for Africa, a period lasting roughly from 1885 to 1914 that saw the invasion and division of Africa by European powers. Dubious treaties were supposedly formed with locals, which were considered valid by Kaiser Wilhelm II who then established a German protectorate of the region.
The larger 20 heller coins were resourcefully made from spent artillery shell casings during World War I, as a British occupation of the territory had exacerbated a coin shortage. An auxiliary coin mint was established in the city of Tabora, Tanzania, using parts from a dismantled German cruiser ship, and the coins minted here are known as Tabora Emergency Coinage. In contrast, the smaller 1 heller coins were struck in Berlin or Hamburg in the years leading up to the war. Both types show the German imperial crown as well as "Deutsch Ostafrka" or "DOA," the German name of the territory.
German East Africa also had a substantial role in World War I, due to the heavy European presence in the African continent at the time. Local soldiers known as askari served in the German army, with many battles being fought in the region. Notably, German East Africa saw the last fighting of World War I, as the territory was isolated enough from Germany that news of the November 11th, 1918 armistice did not reach them until a few days later, with German East Africa's official surrender taking place on November 25th.
Each coin comes with a Certificate of Authenticity.
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