The story behind the designs of the 1997 dated series coins.

    Eritrea became a province of Ethiopia (its neighbour) on 14 November 1962. A provisional government having control over all of Eritrea (independent to Ethiopia) was set up in 1991 and as the result of a formal referendum in 1993, Eritrea gained independence on 24th May 1993.
    A commemorative crown-sized 1 “Dollar” coin (plus precious metal versions) were made by the Pobjoy Mint. If you want a non-circulating legal tender coin of Eritrea then this must be the best one to have (most of the others have either pre-historic or present-day animals on their reverses !).
    The use of Ethiopian coins and papermoney by both Eritrea and Ethiopia continued up until November 1st 1997 when the Eritreans commenced a three week change over period from the Ethopian to new Eritrean coins and papermoney. At the same time as Eritrea carried out this changeover, Ethiopia changed to a new series of papermoney (they haven’t had new coins there yet though).

Eritrea 100 Cents 1997
The 1997 100 Cents of Eritrea. (The year "1991" refers to the year of the establishment of a provisional government in Eritrea.)

    The new coins and papermoney of Eritrea use a system of 100 Cents = 1 Nakfa. However odd about the series of coins is the fact that the denominations shown on them are 1, 5, 10, 25, 50, 100 Cents. I can only assume that the 100 Cent coin is called just that as opposed to “1 Nakfa” because all of these coins are the same bright silvery colour of Nickel, the diameter increase with size. So surely two coins in the same series, of the same colour and bearing the same denomination number “1” would be a little confusing to the illiterate amongst Eritrea’s population. With the coins as they are all the people need to know is that all coins are in units of which there are 100 to the unit of the papermoney. So there is no need to read the denomination name - just the number. (Surinam has 100 Cent and 250 Cent coins perhaps for similar reasons.)
    The designs on both the coins and the notes for Eritrea, were by Clarence Holbert. He worked for the U.S. Treasury Department’s Bureau of Engraving and Printing when he was first hired to create these images. Holbert, now retired, was one of very few blacks to ever work for the B.E.P. The obverse designs of the coins all include an animal from this part of the world, the country name “REPUBLIC OF ERITREA”, the date “1997”, the denomination number e.g. “10” and the denomination name e.g. “TEN CENTS”. The reverse designs are all the same and show an image of fighters raising the new Eritrean flag and the date “1991” (the year of the start of the provisional government period).

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