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Chris Boonzaier

Ethiopia

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After spending 10 days in Ethiopia gathering medals, I was blindsided by an idiot at the airport who confiscated most of them.

The guy was an idiot as most of the stuff was modern, he pretended he knew what he was doing, but did not.

Still, I am the even bigger idiot as i lost my stash, other than these which he said were modern and I could take....

I did loose 2 Distinguished Military Medal of Haile Selassie I and bar, by Mappin & Webb, London

and 2 Military Medal of Merit of the Order of St. George which made me want to cry.

Also , a Chocolate Bronze color victory star 1941 with a little loop to wear around the neck, which I understand was the womans version.... and about 10 lesser medals...

According to the idiot, these were all cultural treasures... but are comman enough at the markets.

This is all I managed to get out...

The one star ot ethipia is a Mappin and Webb made one which apprantly means it was made during the Iztalian occupation...

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To finish my rant... the idiot wanted to keep this as part of "Ethiopian Cultural heritage"

http://gmic.co.uk/index.php/topic/49622-jordanian-something-or-other/

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Oh gosh, really sorry to hear that. What an absolute pain in the proverbials.

You must be seriously weighing up the pros and cos of smacking him one vs. spending the next 6 months as an involuntary guest of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia.

The confiscation of the Jordanian medal would be the biggest blow. That was an absolute beauty.

May karma smile upon you so that you stumble upon an Aladin's cave of ODM rarities in a dusty antique shop in your next port of call.

Gavin

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The "Chocolate Bronze color victory star 1941 with a little loop to wear around the neck, which I understand was the womans version...."

was the most painful... I have been googling all over and have not seen another :-(

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A few suggestions:

Next time, have a local contact mail items from their local PO where, presumably, they habitually 'befriend' a clerk. Always insure such shipments when possible. Mark package souvenir--minimal value: that's what they are! Never use FedEx, UPS or similar.

Have a lst class hotel concierge (large tip--larger tip if you are not staying there) arrange for your bags' direct, pre-customs check-in and fly lst class (at least for lst flight leg out of country--many 'courtesies' usually extended to lst class travelers--and don't you deserve it anyway?).

Most difficult but undoubtedly most correct, prearrange/preclear material with appropriate Ministry (Justice, Administration, Patrimony--or whomever is responsible for 'antiquities or items of historic-cultural significance')--and obtain official written statement of goods' non-national, historical or other significance. Sometimes this requires a small fee. Your hotel concierge will assist with this and deserves a nice gratuity for their help.

NEVER attempt to gift, bribe or suborn airport customs officials.

Obviously, the method used varies depending on the economic and customary conditions in-country. In more than 45 years international travel most often in usually 'difficult' nations, these methods have never failed. Ethiopia specific, suggestions 2 (in Denge times) and 1 (last year) ensured no airport problems.

For Russia & Beylorus/Belarus, generally speaking, method 3 is now an almost absolute requirement.

Most often when things are confiscated for patrimony reasons, one should request a receipt specificing reason for confiscation. Then one has a basis for appealing decision through channels including your consulate or, if something really important is involved, local legal representation. Your embassy/consulate will provide an attorneys list. Discretion advised depending on circumstances--I once witnessed Christiana Annapour [a then well-known CNN correspondent] being first hasseled, then humiliated by a junior customs ranker in Khartoum. Only because a French consul happened to intervene did she escape detention. Needles to say her 'souvenirs' were taken, er, reserved for Sudanese patrimony. Cynics would say sold to the next sucker.

N.B. Mappin & Webb may have made Star Order insignia as early as the 1930s thru the mid-1950s {Jacob} and some report (Ethiopia Reaches her Hand to God?) the 1960s.

Edited by 922F

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The "Chocolate Bronze color victory star 1941 with a little loop to wear around the neck, which I understand was the womans version...."

was the most painful... I have been googling all over and have not seen another :-(

I have seen ONE in 12 years now and "Rastafari" (aka Jim Marshall) may have another later version. That ribbon bar is FANTASTIC!!!! It screams army NCO infantry.

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Rastafari is now Jah-Jim up here. I've never seen a chocolate colored victory star so I'm sorry you didn't shoot it "up close and personal" before you headed for the airport. Was the writing on both sides, or was it uniface? I have one smaller than full sized uniface one, and know where another is if need be. Lastly, even though it's illegal to export such items from Ethiopia since october, 2005, I understand the Ethiopian office DHL has ways of reliably avoiding customs entirely, but if you use them, please offer me something, lol. jah-jim@mindspring is one of my emails. There are very accurate copies of the Victory Star for sale in Ethiopia with a loop for wearing, none of them actual medals, so you have to be careful about that. There are two versions of the Victory Star, both in nickel, one with the bottom two points of the Trinity poking out quite a bit more than the other (thus my name, the Pointy version) and the other third version is the true Silver Victory Medal made by Mappin and Webb in England.

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I have never had problems getting items posted out of Ethiopia, but I guess my purchases have always been very modest. Though I have also avoided problems with the Ethiopian authorities by dealing with Jah-JIm in California, I have always found him to be a very honest and good guy to deal with, A usesful alternative.

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Chris,

I am sorry to hear about the international incident. I hope that you did not lose too much money in the situation. The items you brought back are beautiful. Do you know the award criteria for these medals and ribbons?

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Good evening from the Radisson in Addis. Arrived this morning from Riyadh for three nights - a three hour flight, no time difference, visa easily available at the airport for $20 - all very convenient. The only real hassle was getting a yellow fever jab in Riyadh to comply with Saudi re-entry regulations. Draught St. George's beer is most welcome after the delights of Riyadh homebrew! Tomorrow off on a medal hunt to Churchill Road and I am confining my purchases, if any, to post Selassie items with a maximum cost of $10 (??)per medal - I'll report back on whether my "rules" are complied with in due course. Advice from hotel and airport staff is be modest in your purchases - a kilo of of bling will attract attention, get reciepts, and pack in hold luggage. I'll keep you posted. Off for another St. George! Owain

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Good evening from the Radisson in Addis. Arrived this morning from Riyadh for three nights - a three hour flight, no time difference, visa easily available at the airport for $20 - all very convenient. The only real hassle was getting a yellow fever jab in Riyadh to comply with Saudi re-entry regulations. Draught St. George's beer is most welcome after the delights of Riyadh homebrew! Tomorrow off on a medal hunt to Churchill Road and I am confining my purchases, if any, to post Selassie items with a maximum cost of $10 (??)per medal - I'll report back on whether my "rules" are complied with in due course. Advice from hotel and airport staff is be modest in your purchases - a kilo of of bling will attract attention, get reciepts, and pack in hold luggage. I'll keep you posted. Off for another St. George! Owain

Best of luck Owain. Hope you find some interesting inexpensive loot.

Paul

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Good evening from the Radisson in Addis. Arrived this morning from Riyadh for three nights - a three hour flight, no time difference, visa easily available at the airport for $20 - all very convenient. The only real hassle was getting a yellow fever jab in Riyadh to comply with Saudi re-entry regulations. Draught St. George's beer is most welcome after the delights of Riyadh homebrew! Tomorrow off on a medal hunt to Churchill Road and I am confining my purchases, if any, to post Selassie items with a maximum cost of $10 (??)per medal - I'll report back on whether my "rules" are complied with in due course. Advice from hotel and airport staff is be modest in your purchases - a kilo of of bling will attract attention, get reciepts, and pack in hold luggage. I'll keep you posted. Off for another St. George! Owain

Hi.

Oposite the old post office there is a good market... when you enter the road, shops to your left... the first 5 or so have some goood stuff.

A tip... just go to the post office parcel section... they are friendly and suprisingly... in my case... the stuff arrived home!!

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Good Luck!

A GOLD MINE would be to see the INDEX of the "Negerat Gazaette"- the official Ethiopian Gazette (published in English as well as Aramahic and Geez'). It contains the relevant regulations -and continued publication through the Derg era. In the USA only ONE library has a full set and they don't lend it. I am especially interested in WHEN the victory medals were actually issued- because they often do not show up on WW2 medal ribbon bars.

If you can find ANY loose ribbons, or ribbon bars, please, please, please, please buy them. I will happily reimburse/pay a profit for them.

If you can- see if you can find a decent Derg "Hero of the Nation" medal (akin to a Hero of the Soviet Union). A bunch were awarded for the wars-esp. against Somalia and Eritrea and also Cuban and East German awards. Both countries had LARGE military/economic contingents in Ethiopia and there are all sorts of photos of Derg officers wearing Soviet/Bulgarian/DDR medals/ officer school badges.

BUT THE RAREST medal you are likely to encounter is the replacement DERG era "guerrilla medal"- it has a rounded bakers' bee hive oven on it with grenades falling out of it. The Sellasie era "guerrilla medals are rare enough- even though made by Mappin and Webb, but the Derg ones are incredibly, insanely rare. Most people do not know what they are .

GOOD LUCK!

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Just back from a day of tourism & browsing. Lost of medals for sale but. I suppose inevitably, all of the common place pre & post Selassie stuff - invariably well worn or damaged and without ribbons - great fun browsing though. Once possible find is a Hero of the Republic large silver neck badge but no price yet - some of the red enamelling on the central star is missing. A star of Shebe at $500 was a definite walk away. I will go back tomorrow morning for another browse - I have my eye on a Halie Selassie Prize Medal for the Best Cow - at Birr800 or $40 I should be able to negotiate it down. So far no looose ribbons or ribbon bars but I will keep on looking. Owain

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A star of Shebe at $500 was a definite walk away.

Was that at one of the first 2 or 3 shops on the road in front of the post office?

I think I saw one there.

best

Chris

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Chris, No it was at one of a cluster of shops just off Churchill Avenue - I'll return there later to day. This morning off with friend to the Mercato Market - supposedly the biggest open air market in Africa - a friend is giving us his driver as a guide and apparently there may be medals there...as they say in Saudi "Insh allah"! Owain

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Hi,

The old post office is just off churchill street,

If you have not been to that market, dont miss it! I am gusessing we are talking about the same thing... the big building facing the cluster of shops is the post office.

best

Chris

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Gentlemen,

Back in Riyadh - a successful trip - no hassle at at all at the airport - all very quite. The medals were in the hold luggage. I must have visted over 30 different shops and almost all had medals but the vast amount were without ribbon and in poor condition - both pre and post Selassie periods. Haggling and revisiting some shops was necessary and indeed some prices being asked - no doubt due to me being a Westerner - were ridiculous. The ability to walk away is a necessity - indeed one store had a small trunk full of miniatures and other bits and pieces but the owner wanted to charge full medal price for the miniatures and would not compromise so no deal. Also evident were many unfinished medals and parts of orders, much of which I am sure had been liberated from the Sevadjian factory after the fall of Selassie. A key issue was the lack of medal ribbons, and indeed medal ribbon bars, of which I saw only a few and all badly damaged, and thus unless the piece was particularly scarce to my mind it was not worth persuing. Anway my haul for the trip is as follows:

Menelik Service Medals (small diameter) - 1st (gilt) and 2nd (silvered) at Birr 250 each ($13.89).

Selassie Service Medals (large diameter) - 1st (gilt) & 2nd (silvered) at Birr 250 each ($13.89).

Selassie Police Medal - 1st (gilt) (x 2 - one in original issue paper envelope) at Birr 250 & Birr 150 ($13.89 & $8.33) - 2nd Class not seen anywhere even without ribbon.

Chaplains Medal - 1st (gilded base medal) - at Birr 250 (13.89) - not sure if this is a one or two class award - poorly struck (cast?) and no ribbon.

Congo Medal - at Birr 200 ($11.11)

UN Korea - Ethiopia issue at Birr 450 ($25.00)

1956 Silver Jubilee Medal - at Birr 750 ($41.67) the only other example I saw was without ribbon and the asking price was Birr 4,000 ($222.22) - Ha!

"Best Cow" medal - some from of agricultural prize award (?) at Birr 750 ($41.67) - loop suspension but no ribbon.

I wil post images of these in the next few days. I already have a number of Ethiopian awards in my collection thus I limited my purchases search to what I did not have.The only medals I did not buy which I did not have were silver Victory stars and the Korea medals in silver and silvered base metal - no ribbon was available for these and thus I passed - perhaps when I vist again.

Finally one note of caution - there were a number of Order of Solomon badges for sale - on close inspection the star badges may have been Sevadjian castings but subsequently attached to crudely made suspension crowns - these were being sold as neck pendants - they should not be confused with genuine orders - one international dealer has one being offered as scare locally made variant!

Anyway that is it for now and thank you for your interest and advice. Regards, Owain

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Gentlemen,

I attach an image of the obverse of the medals - reverse to follow.

Owain

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For the Ethiopian fans, militaria agent posted quite a few medals up for sale this month.

https://www.militaria-agent.com/cgi-bin/custom/suche.pl?datei=&blockno=1&blocksize=50&beding=Ethiopia&sprache=

Markus

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Is the "best cow" one the big silver one at the bottom?

Nice haul-

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No attempt to compete with Owain (how could I?) but here is part of my latest haul from Addis.

I ended up buying over 40 items paying an average £12 each.

Tim

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