Ethiopian shield

A 19th century Ethiopian shield withdrawn from auction at Anderson & Garland.

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The shield was to be offered at the Newcastle auction house’s The Collectors’ Auction on February 29 with an estimate of £800-1200. However, the lot was withdrawn ahead of the auction following a request from the Ethiopian Heritage Authority to stop the sale.

A spokesperson for Anderson & Garland said: “After careful consideration, we’ve taken the decision to withdraw lot 903 from The Collectors’ Auction and have referred the matter back to our vendor for their consideration.”

The shield was engraved ‘Magdala 13th April 1868’ and was brought to the UK following the battle of Maqdala in 1868.

In capturing Magdala the British destroyed Emperor Tewodros II's artillery, burnt down the fortress and took many local artefacts back to Britain following their victory. Tewodros killed himself rather than be captured.

In June 2021, Dorset auction house Busby of Bridport was due to offer a group of Ethiopian works of art believed to have been taken during the Battle of Maqdala but stopped the auction ahead of the sale due to pressure from Ethiopia. The items had been consigned from the estate of Major-General William Arbuthnot, a serving member of the late 19th century British expedition to Abyssinia and who had fought at the battle of Maqdala.

The group, including an Ethiopian cross, a set of graduated horn beakers and a Coptic bible on vellum in a leather satchel, were later acquired by The Scheherazade Foundation and returned to Ethiopia.