Recently, two rare Egyptian pattern coins were certified by PCGS. These two unadopted pattern designs each have about five known examples and point to a popular and historical time during both Egyptian and world history.
The first coin, dated AH1375 and 1956 AD, is denominated 25 piastres. The pattern was a proposal to commemorate Gamal Abdul Nasser’s presidential election win, elevating him to President of Egypt. The coin designed by Abdul Fattah Wahba and calligrapher Muhammad Abdul Kader is made of silver, measures 35 millimeters, and weighs 17.50 grams. Listed as HM-112 in the Encyclopedia & Catalogue of Egyptian Money – The Egyptian Coins by Eng. Magdy Hanafy, the coin is graded SP63 by PCGS.
Gamal Abdel Nasser served as the second Egyptian President. A veteran of the 1948 Arab-Israeli War, Nasser’s popularity and fame came with the Revolution of 1952 and the overthrowing of the monarchy. With a failed attempt of assassination by the Muslim Brotherhood, Nasser became even more popular among the Egyptian people, which allowed him to crack down on the group and arrest its members, putting President Mohamed Naguib under house arrest in 1954. In 1956, Gamal Abdel Nasser secured a new Constitution of Egypt. This unadopted essai pattern coin features the portrait of Nasser and in Arabic includes the inscription “Gamal Abdul Nasser President of the Republic of Egypt.” Hanafy writes that Nasser rejected the design because his portrait is reminiscent of that of King Fuad and King Farouk. It was likely Nasser didn’t want people to believe he was reestablishing a monarchy with such a coin.
The second coin pattern is also dated AH1375 and 1956 AD and is denominated 25 piastres. This coin was a proposal for a commemorative coin honoring the Nationalization of the Suez Canal in 1956. The coin is also designed by Abdul Fattah Wahba and calligrapher Muhammad Abdul Kader. It is made of silver, measures 35 millimeters, and weighs 17.50 grams. It is listed as HM-113 and is graded SP62 by PCGS.
The Nationalization of the Suez Canal was a hot-button issue across the world in 1956. With Nasser supporting Algerian Independence, recognizing communist China, and garnering arms deals with the Eastern bloc the United States and the United Kingdom withdrew their financial support in the construction of the Aswan Dam on July 19, 1956. As a result, Nasser gave a speech on July 26, 1956 announcing the nationalization of the Suez Canal Company as a means to fund the Aswan Dam project. The speech denounced British imperialism, a relevant matter at the time as Britain had troops stationed in the Suez until June 13, 1956 – just before sovereignty of the waterway went to the Egyptian people. Throughout the Arab world, this decision was greeted with support for Nasser and the Egyptian people but resulted in the forthcoming Suez Crisis on October 29, 1956 with Israeli, British, and French forces attacking the Sinai.
The commemorative coin for the Nationalization of the Suez Canal bearing the portrait of Nasser was rejected. Hanafy writes that Nasser believed the coin having his portrait on it would send the wrong message, as it was not him who nationalized the Suez Canal but rather Egypt and its people. Instead the actual commemorative coin for the nationalization of the Suez Canal combined elements of both pattern designs of Abdul Fattah Wahba, as well as his unadopted patterns of MH-112 and MH-113. The actual coin issued for commemoration features the headquarters building in Port Said for the Suez Canal and the reverse features the wings and sun disc design.
With fewer than five known examples of each coin, it is a wonderful experience to see these important pieces, both linked to history and an important period of time for Egypt and the rest of the world. Having them certified and protected by PCGS will allow others to continue protecting and cherishing these relics long into the future.
- The Encyclopedia & Catalogue of Egyptian Money - The Egyptian Coins by Eng. Magdy Hanafy
- Gamal Abdel Nasser Wikipedia