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Zanzibar Government Badges of Honour

    My interest in numismatics other than that relating to legal tender coins past and present can be generally seen as an interest in “tokens”. I do not include military medals at all in “tokens”; the two are obviously separate categories. But most other coin-like objects, particular those produced by striking are of interest to me. Pieces without a stated value usually fall into the “medallic” category which includes such as souvenirs pieces and pieces with an occasion or anniversary to commemorate. From Zanzibar, the following are of a more important type of “medallic” issue, they are “official badges of honour”.

Zanzibar Government - Mwera District - Bronze
Zanzibar Government Badge of Honour – Mwera District, actual diameter 57mm. (Image thanks to Mike Dunford)

Zanzibar Government - Weti District - Bronze
Zanzibar Government Badge of Honour – Weti District, actual diameter 57mm. (Image thanks to Mike Dunford)

    Both of the pieces shown here are made from Bronze and have a diameter of 57mm. Fastened to each piece there is a relatively long chain, the chains also seem to be of Bronze. When the owner of these medals first sent me the images, he did not know too much about them, having acquired them in eastern Africa (his part of the world). At the time he had recently asked Spink & Son for further information on the pieces. He told me that the only other similar example he had seen was in Spink Auction Catalogue No. 88 of 14-October-1991.

    Spink & Son’s response to the enquiry, in April 2006, was as follow:-

    The items that you pictured are Zanzibar Badges of Honour. They were issued in silver and bronze to my knowledge and are quite scarce.

    They were awarded to the “Shea” who were local headmen who helped administer a section of a District under the District Commissioner and obviously depending upon condition amongst other things can be worth several hundred pounds.

    In my catalogue of Spink Sale No.88, I see a bronze example of one of these medals and it is for Mkoani District (Lot 319). With the help of the internet I found a couple of pieces in the Bloomsbury Auctions sale of 15-December-2005. They had then offered two of these pieces – one in Silver for Mwera District (Lot 93B) and one in Bronze for Chake Chake District (Lot 92B). The two pieces I have illustrated here would seem to be without original clasps. The three pieces seen in past sales each included a decorative clasp.

    Zanzibar comprises two main islands; they are Unguja and the smaller Pemba. Mwera is on Unguja; Weti, Chake Chake and Mkoani are on Pemba. Zanzibar’s union with Tanganyika brought about Tanzania in 1964. These badges of honour are evidently from a long time before that.

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