Somaliland and the 1 Shilling coin.

   “The Republic of Somaliland” was declared on May 18th 1991, when the part of Somalia that had once been a protectorate of Great Britain declared itself to be a sovereign and independent nation. To this day Somaliland’s independence remains unrecognised by the international community.
   The only coin to be issued for circulation in the name of Somaliland is the 1 Somaliland Shilling type of 1994. This coin was issued around October 1994 when the Bank of Somaliland also formally introduced a series of papermoney in denominations 5, 10, 20, 50, 100 and 500 Somaliland Shillings. The unit of currency of the Republic of Somaliland i.e. the Somaliland Shilling, is a lasting sign of the British influence on this region. Let us take a look at the history of Somaliland and the Shilling, more particularly the history of Somaliland and the 1 Shilling coin.
   For many years the British India Rupee had been used in the protectorate of British Somaliland. Then in August 1940 (almost a year into the Second World War) the Italians took the region from British control and incorporated it into Italian East Africa (known to the Italians as “Africa Orientale Italiana”), which would soon comprise Italian Somaliland, Ethiopia, Eritrea and what had since 1888 and until then been British Somaliland. Italian East Africa’s currency was the (Africa Orientale Italiana) Lira. By February 1941 Italian supremacy in the region came to an end following the efforts of the British and their allies from the south of this region.
   At this time the British commenced the introduction of the coins and papermoney of the East African Currency Board (EACB) to the four territories they had taken from Italian control. The EACB coinage comprised pieces of 1, 5, 10, 50 Cents (Half Shilling) and 1 Shilling and was already in use in British controlled Kenya, Uganda, Tanganikya and Zanzibar. This extension to the use of the EACB coinage and papermoney had varying success in the different territories and for various reasons. The level of success of the introduction of the EACB monies to British Somaliland was such that in 1948 (the year in which the military administration of British Somaliland ended) both East African Shillings and Indian Rupees were in use (Source -World History at KMLA, page entitled History of Somaliland, on the internet at ). It was during 1951 that the Indian Rupee was finally phased out of use in the protectorate.

East Africa 1 Shilling of 1925.
The first of the three East Africa 1 Shilling coin types - the 1 Shilling of 1925.

East Africa 1 Shilling of 1941 with I mint mark.
The second of the three East Africa 1 Shilling coin types - the 1 Shilling of 1941 with "I" mint mark.

East Africa 1 Shilling of 1950 with KN mint mark.
The third of the three East Africa 1 Shilling coin types - the 1 Shilling of 1950 with "KN" mint mark.

   All three East African 1 Shilling types will have seen use in British Somaliland. All three types had in common their reverse design, which was the work of George William De Saulles (Source - "Catalogue of Coin Designers and Engravers" 1984, by Zdenek Vesely). This design has, as one of its main features, a rather life-like lion. About every other lion to appear on world coinage at the time was at least a little heraldic, appearing in a shield or coat of arms. Behind the lion and adding to the realism of the design, there is the distant view of Mount Kilimanjaro, Africa’s highest peak. Arching over the lion/mountain scene is a stylised flower and above this the words “EAST AFRICA”. Below the central scene is the denomination numeral “1”, below that the word “SHILLING” and below that the date. Pieces made by mints other than the Royal Mint, London include a mint mark located in the ground at the lion’s feet, directly above the denomination numeral “1”. The mint marks are any one of the following four:- “H” (The Mint, Birmingham Ltd., Birmingham, England), “I” (the Bombay Branch of the Royal Mint, Bombay, India), “KN” (The mint of ICI Metals Division, Witton, near Birmingham, England) and “SA” (The South African Mint, Pretoria, South Africa). The mountain/lion design also appeared on the papermoney of the EACB from the 1933 series to the 1955 series inclusive.
   The distinction between the three types of East Africa 1 Shilling is the obverse design. The first type shows a portrait of George V (that by Sir Edgar Bertram Mackennal, as per the “BM” in relief on the truncation, to the right) around which is the legend “GEORGIVS V REX ET IND: IMP:”. The second type shows a crowned portrait of George VI (with small designer’s initials “PM” for Percy Metcalfe, below the truncation) surrounded by the unabbreviated legend “GEORGIVS VI REX ET INDIÆ IMPERATOR :”. The third type has the same portrait of George VI with the shorter legend “GEORGIVS SEXTVS REX”. One Shilling coins of the first two types contained 25 per cent Silver by weight, those of the third type were of Copper-Nickel (Cu75/Ni25).
   The very same lion/mountain scene and fairly similar legends were also used on the 50 Cents / Half Shilling coins of East Africa. This denomination too came in one type during the reign of George V and two types during the reign of George VI. However in contrast to the issues of 1 Shilling coins, many millions of the East Africa 50 Cents / Half Shilling coins were issued with the portrait of Queen Elizabeth II (seven dates ranging from 1954 through to 1963). Further to this the book “The Numismatic History of the Birmingham Mint” by James O. Sweeny (1981), mentions that the approximately 8 million 1952 "H" 1 Shilling pieces struck by that mint were made, with date 1952 and the second George VI obverse, during 1953, 1954 and 1955.  It would seem quite possible that some of the 1952 dated (Royal Mint, London) and 1952 "KN" dated pieces will also have been made in years after 1952.
   I came across a clue as to why no East Africa 1 Shilling coins were made after those of the "1952" order and with date 1952. This clue came in the form of the title of an archive record that is held in the Kenya National Archives. (Found through their site at ). Kenya’s capital Narobi was home to the headquarters of the EACB and the named place of issue on the EACB papermoney. The Kenya National Archives include an important archive of EACB documents and one set of documents is archived under the title “Proposed new alloy for 1/- and 50 cent coins, reduction of the nickel content of East African and West African coins” and is said to be from 1951 to 1953. The documents themselves are not on-line, so the easiest thing to do is to see what sense can be made out of the title. The West African coins referred to will be the “British West Africa” coinage, also issued by a currency board and comprising 1/10 Penny, 1/2 Penny, 1 Penny, 3 Pence, 6 Pence, 1 Shilling and 2 Shillings. So the documents must discuss a proposed new alloy for the East African 50 Cents and 1 Shilling, which since 1948 had both been of Cu75/Ni25. Other document titles give mention of discussion of a need, at the time, to reduce the Nickel content of both the East Africa coins and those of British West Africa. At the time the main Nickel usage in the British West Africa coins was in the 1/10, 1/2 and 1 Penny coins for which Bronze was used commencing with the 1952 dated issue. The only Nickel usage in the East Africa coins was in 50 Cents and the 1 Shilling. The content of these coins never did see further change, it seems they settled for just doing without further orders of the 1 Shilling coins.
   Somaliland gained its independence from the British on June 26th 1960, it joined Somalia (which had once been Italian Somaliland) on July 1st 1960 to form the Somali Republic. As a result of this, Somaliland left the East African Currency Board region. For a few years the Somali Scellino (Somali Shilling), the currency unit of the Somali Republic, remained at the same Gold parity as that used for the East Africa Shilling and the Somalo (that had been the currency unit of Somalia). The Somali Republic’s first papermoney was issued in 1962 but coins were not issued at that time. So for the time being the new republic will assumably have allowed its people to continue to use the coinages they had used prior to independence. These coinages were the 1950 dated coins of Somalia (1, 5, 10 and 50 Centesimi and 1 Somalo) and the EACB coins. The very last of the EACB coins were 5 and 10 Cent coins dated 1964. For these Royal titles were omitted, signifying that these were use in EACB member countries that were newly independent.

Somali Republic 1 Scellino of 1967.
Somali Republic 1 Scellino of 1967.

   Former EACB members Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda each issued their first coinages in 1966 and each of these new series of coins included a 1 Shilling coin. The Somali Republic soon followed this lead by introducing a 1967 dated series of coins comprising 5, 10, 50 Centesimi/Cents and 1 Scellino/Shilling. Both English and Italians spellings of these currency units appeared on the coins. The 1967 1 Scellino was of similar size to its predecessors the East African 1 Shilling and the 1 Somalo of Somalia. All four pieces in the 1967 series had on their obverse the coat of arms of the Somali Republic with the words “SOMALI REPUBLIC” above and the same but in Arabic script below. The date also appears on the obverse, to the left in Arabic numerals and to the right in western numerals. Typical of the whole series, the 1 Scellino has a reverse comprising  “1 SCELLINO” above a small 5-pointed star, centrally, within a large circle of small dots. Over the top of the circle of dots are the words “ONE SOMALI SHILLING” and below it the denomination appears in Arabic script.
   It is mentioned in “The Numismatic History of the Birmingham Mint”, that the Birmingham Mint made the whole of the 10 Centesimi issue of this 1967 series over the years 1967 and 1968. The book also makes mention that the designer of this type and hence the other 3 types in this series, was Michael Rizzello. Other works by this designer include the 1966 dated Gambian coins, the 1964 dated Sierra Leone circulation series and, a little “nearer home”, the Great Britain 2 Pounds 1995 for the fiftieth anniversary of the United Nations.

Somali Demcratic Republic 1 Shillin of 1976.
Somali Demcratic Republic 1 Shillin of 1984 - reverse only.
Both sides of the 1976 1 Shillin coin and the reverse of the 1984 1 Shillin coin (the same obverse is used for each date).

   As a consequence of various political changes, the country’s title had been changed to “Somali Democratic Republic” by the time of the next coinage issue. This series, first released with the date 1976, was led by a 1 Shilin denomination, “Shilin” being the Somali word for “Shilling”. The coat of arms on the obverse remained unchanged from the 1967 series, but the legend above was no longer in English, it was instead in Somali and read “JAMHURIYADDA DIMOQRAADIGA SOOMAALIYA” reflecting the country’s new title, which also appeared, in Arabic, below the coat of arms. The reverse of the 1976 1 Shilin shows a lamb with a “1” above, the “1” being preceded by the word “SHILIN” and followed by the Arabic word for Shilling written in Arabic script, to each side of the lamb is the date, in western numerals (to the left) and in Arabic numerals (to the right). The two Copper-Nickel pieces of the 1976 series (the 1 Shilin and the smaller 50 Senti) were the only types to make any reappearance. Pieces of these two denominations, dated 1984, were issued with unchanged designs, though struck in Nickel-plated-Steel, which would have decreased raw material costs for coinage production.

Republic of Somaliland 1 Shilling of 1994.
Republic of Somaliland 1 Shilling of 1994.

   That brings us to the latest 1 Shilling coins for use in Somaliland. As mentioned earlier, the region that was once British Somaliland declared itself “The Republic of Somaliland” in 1991 and new coinage and papermoney was introduced around October 1994. The only coin of this issue though was the 1994 dated 1 Shilling.
   The Somaliland Pigeon (Columba oliviae) is the main feature of the obverse of the 1994 1 Shilling, with “REPUBLIC OF SOMALILAND” above and the date “1994” below. To the right of the date there can be found the mint mark “PM”, for the Pobjoy Mint. The simple reverse design comprises a large central “1/-”, with “BAANKA SOMALILAND” above and around this and “ONE SOMALILAND SHILLING” below and around. There is obvious practicality in this design - an easy to see and easy to understand design element, central to the reverse, being used to signify the value of the coin. The Pobjoy Mint recently informed me that they were provided with the obverse and reverse designs for this coin type by the Republic of Somaliland.
   These 1 Shilling coins are of Aluminium, have a mass of 1.0 gram and a 21.0 mm diameter. The only other Aluminium coins made by the Pobjoy Mint were also made for use in Africa. These coins were the slightly smaller Burundi 1 Franc coins dated 1990 and 1993.
   I got my example of the 1994 1 Shilling on June 12th 1996. It is an uncirculated piece, the same grade in which they always seem to be offered in dealer’s lists, internet auctions etc.. Only recently did I hear of an example in a grade anything more than a touch below Uncirculated. This example I know of, in a friend’s collection, has definitely seen real circulation and it was acquired following a trip to Somaliland by a friend of the present owner. So doubt no longer this is a circulation type !

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All images scaled to 200 dpi.
This page added at February 2004. This page "Somaliland and the 1 Shilling Coin" is as sent to Coin News (Token Publishing, UK) on 20th August 2003. They published it in the January 2004 edition of Coin News less the East African coins image and plus a map of the relevant part of Africa. This article was first published in the September 2003 edition of the Numismatics International Bulletin (page 277-281, pages numbered through the year).

Footnote at August 2005. Please note - a number of low denomination coins struck in the name of Somaliland have appeared with numerous coins dealers over the last 2 or 3 years. Some of these new types are actually a little similar to the One Shilling coins of 1994, but that 1994 type remains the only amongst them that is or has been a normal coin for circulation within Somaliland.