Rare Letter of State Signed by the Rastafari Messiah, Haile Selassie

Signed by Haile Selassie

Item: 21483
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SELASSIE, HAILE (RAS TAFARI MAKONNEN). (1892-1975). Emperor of Ethiopia; considered the messiah of the Rastafari. LS. (“Haile Selassie I”). 1p. Tall 4to. Addis Ababa, January 26, 1959. Handwritten in black calligraphy on a large folded sheet headed by a purple-ink stamp of the imperial seal, depicting the lion of Judah. To Portuguese President AMÉRICO TOMÁS (1894-1987). In Amharic with English translation.

Haile Sellassie [sic.] I

Elect of God, Emperor of Ethiopia


His Excellency Admiral Americo Deus Rodrigues Thomaz

President of the Republic of Portugal

Great and Good Friend:

We extend Our congratulations on the occasion of Your election to the high post of President of the Republic of Portugal.

We reciprocate Your wish that under Your Presidency the friendly and cordial relations which so happily exist between our two great nations may continue to be consolidated and strengthened. In this high endeavor You may be assured of Our sympathetic co-operation.

We ask that Your Excellency accept Our good wishes for Your personal well-being and for the continued prosperity of Your country.

GIVEN at Our imperial Court at Addis Ababa, on this the Twenty Sixth Day of the Month of January in the Year of Our Lord One Thousand Nine Hundred and Fifty Nine and of Our reign the Twenty Nineth [sic]

Your Good Friend

Haile Sellassie [sic.], Emperor of Ethiopia”

Haile Selassie

The Solomonic Dynasty, which claimed to be descended from King Solomon and the Queen of Sheba, reigned over Ethiopia and Eritrea (Abyssinia) from 1270 to 1974. A member of the House of Solomon through his maternal grandmother, Selassie was crowned Negusa Nagast or “King of Kings” in 1930, despite several challenges to his claim to the throne. His new name, which means “Power of the Trinity,” replaced two previous iterations. His coronation was documented by British novelist Evelyn Waugh and attended by dignitaries from around the world.

Under Selassie, Ethiopia was a charter member of the United Nations and his long reign saw his introduction of a constitution. After the Italian invasion of Ethiopia during World War II, and Victor Emanuel declaring himself emperor, Selassie traveled to Geneva to ask for assistance from the League of Nations, becoming famous for his statements against fascism, for which he was named Time magazine’s man of the year for 1936. The league’s failure to roundly condemn Italy’s aggression is often cited as the reason for the organization’s demise.

After the Italian occupiers were defeated, and over the next several decades, Haile Selassie continued to work with the UN to pursue the decolonization of Africa. He was instrumental in the founding of the Organization of African Unity (the modern African Union), and was held in great esteem by the international community despite criticisms over human rights abuses. His long reign came to an end with a bloody military coup in 1974; His murder at the hands of his political opponents the following year was initially covered up. The Rastafari religion reveres Selassie as a prophet or deity and his coronation as emperor as the fulfilment of a Biblical prophecy.

Our letter regards the election of Thomáz in August 1958. He remained in that position until 1974, though he was largely a figurehead subordinated to the prime minister for his first decade in office.

Signed in blue ink. Folded with a faint paperclip impression in the upper left corner. Accompanied by a typed English translation on a large folded sheet signed by Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs Gachaou Zallaka (“Gachaou Zallaka”), and bearing the blind-embossed stamp of the Ethiopian Empire. With the original envelope bearing an elaborate red paper seal also blind-embossed with the seal of the Ethiopian Empire. A black-and-white photographic postcard of Selassie has been added. Scarce in this format and desirable.

Rare Letter of State Signed by the Rastafari Messiah, Haile Selassie

Signed by Haile Selassie

$1500 • item #21483

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