Maria Theresa Silver Thaler

Date: 1930's, dated 1780
Italian Eritrea

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Item Description:

 These peculiar silver coins are dated 1780 and feature an Austrian design, but were actually made by the Italian government for circulation in Eritrea and Ethiopia during the 1930's—as you can imagine, they have a complicated story!

The history of these silver thalers dates back to 1741 during the reign of the Habsburg queen Maria Theresa, who is featured on these coins. Original Maria Theresa thalers (MTTs) were struck in Austria and quickly caught on internationally as an alternative to the Spanish silver dollar, popularly known as a Piece of Eight. When the queen died in 1780, the date was "frozen" onto the coin and used for all future restrikes.

Despite the queen's death, the popularity of these coins remained. MTTs became a primary currency in Africa and the Arab world from the 1800's to the mid-1900's, where they were called the “French Riyal."  Even as late as World War II, MTTs were the preferred currency in Japanese occupied Indonesia—the U.S. government even made counterfeits for use by resistance forces! These iconic coins are actually still in production today at the Austrian mint, though they now serve as collector's pieces.

Our specific restrikes of the Maria Theresa thaler were made to circulate in Eritrea and Ethiopia, a region that had used MTTs since the 1750's. When Eritrea fell under Italian control during the Scramble for Africa in the late 1800's, the government tried numerous times to replace MTTs with their own coins called the Tallero Eritreo—which were swiftly rejected by the locals. They eventually relented and issued these restrikes using the original 1780 MTT design in the 1930's, during the Italian occupation of Ethiopia under Benito Mussolini.

Each of these coins has been thoroughly inspected for authenticity by an ANA Certified numismatist.


A shipment of Maria Theresa thalers arrives in Ethiopia, 1910

Your order will include:

  • The historical item(s) shown above
  • Glass top leatherette display box
  • Information card and Certificate of Authenticity

Our original glass and leatherette display boxes showcase your relic above a custom information card, with a design unique to History Hoard.

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