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Ras Bab-el-Mandeb counterstamps on Maria Theresia Talers


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Ras Bab-el-Mandeb

Bab-el-Mandeb (Bab el Mandab, Bab al Mandab, Bab al Mandeb, Bab al Mandib), Arabic for "Gate of Tears", "Gate of Grief", or "Gate of Affliction", is the strait separating the continents of Asia and Africa. It connects the Red Sea to the Indian Ocean (Gulf of Aden). It is sometimes called the Mandab Strait in English [1]. Ras Bab-el-Mandeb is a peninsula at the Arabic side of Bab-el-Mandeb in Yemen. Shaykh Sa'id (Cheikh Sad, Sheikh Sa'eed, Ra's Sheikh Sa'eed, Ash Shaykh Sa'id) is the name of an ancient port on Ras Bab-el-Mandeb. It exists as a settlement until today. Shaykh Sa'id is located on the north-west side of Ras Bab-el-Mandeb.

In 1868, a French company purchased Sheikh Sa'eed and approximately 400,000 acres of surrounding land from the local tribe. In 1869, the purchase was anulled as the purchase price was only partially paid [2]. At the end of the 19th century, the port was described as French, British, or Turkish territory, depending on the map consulted.

According to The Price of Wealth: Economies and Institutions in the Middle East by Kiren Aziz Chaudhry, Cornell University Press 1997, the imam of Yemen negotiated with a French company in the 1870s to build a port at Shayk Sa'id to bypass both the Turkish controlled port of Mocha and the British controlled port of Aden. Aden under British Rule by R.J. Gavin, London 1975, is cited as reference.

The Ras Bab-el-Mandeb counterstamp is a circuar wreath with Arabic writing. It is listed in the Hafner catalog as Hafner 114.

Literature references


Auction Comments Image
Schulman, Public Coin Auction, March 1970, lot #1692A. Description: Cap Ras Bab El Mandele. Sheikh Sa'Id Fort. Host coin is a post-1945 strike. Mandab Avers Rauch Mandab Revers Rauch
H.D. Rauch, Austria. Auction 32, January 1984, lot #3019. Description: Rial ca. 1914 (Taler 1780 SF) / Mi. 1492. Host coin is a post-1945 strike. Specimen displayed in Hafner catalog. Mandab Avers Rauch Mandab Revers Rauch
Baldwin's auction, 2002, lot #697 Description: Maria Theresa restrike Silver Thaler of 1780 with Shaykh Sa'id Ras al-Mandab countermark on obv, 27.83g, Mitchener 1492. Ex-mount, countermark extremely fine, coin about very fine and scarce. The fort of Shaykh Sa'id was located on the border between Ottoman Yemen and the British Aden Protectorate at the mouth of the Red Sea..
Teutoburger Muenzauktion, Germany. Auction 33, March 2007, lot #315. Attributed to Obock. Host coin is a post-1945 strike. Mandab Avers TMA Mandab Avers TMA
Karel de Geus, Netherlands. Auction 24, November 2007, lot #824. Description: Thaler 1887-1895/1900. 2 counterstamps on Maria Theresia Thaler 1780: i) 'Al Shaykh Sa'id fi Ras Babal Mandab'. Mitchiner WOI 1492 p.238; ii. PM (=Provincia de Mocambique 1889); WOI 1494; KM 59/60.
Together with two (!) Mozambique counterstamps (Hafner 99). Host coin is a post-1945 strike.
Mandab DeGeus

Other Specimen


It is very unlikely that genuine specimen of Maria Theresa Talers with Ras Bab-el-Mandeb counterstamp exist.

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