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Modern Egyptian Money


Modern Egyptian Money

by Seif Kamel


Editor's Note: Its a typical scene for me. I'm visiting some friend when something is mentioned about Egypt. This catches the ears of the kids, and suddenly they get interested in the conversation. I end up reaching into my wallet and extracting a couple of one pound notes to give to them and their eyes light up at the sight of the colorful money. It just goes to show that the least expensive, easiest to carry souvenir from Egypt is also one of the best. Those two pound notes only cost me about 40 cents (USD), and its not unusual for some friend to come up to me a year later and thank me for the gift. I'm also known to add a pound note to the tip of a favorite waitress or bartender, or even hand them out with my card. Its not just that its foreign money. Its pretty foreign money, with interesting engravings, from the ancient Land of Egypt. And I always end up with some extra at the end of a visit to Egypt. - Jimmy Dunn

A 25 Piastre Note issued on December 28, 1968, with a sylized Sphinx

Money is a vital aspect in our modern lives, just as it was in the past. However, in ancient times, prior to the Greeks, Egypt had no money, only a barter system. Today, things are different. Egypt's monetary system is now based on the Egyptian Pound (LE), with smaller bills denoted as so many piasters (100 piasters making up one Egyptian pound). Of course, outside of economics, the most interesting aspect of the various Egyptian notes is the design, which usually depicts famous monuments, or sometimes famous pharaohs. Because of this, it makes a vary nice souvenir to take back home. Kids and even grownups enjoy receiving one of these exotic notes, but wouldn't it be nice if one could tell them about what they depict on their front and back.

A Five Pound Egyptian Bank Note Issued on January 10th, 1899

Most Egyptian money will have various Islamic designs on both the front and back that are secondary to the dominant art. Of course, there is also various scrip, sometimes in Arabic, sometimes in English. Specifically, note that the front usually has Arabic script and print, while the rear is printed in English for the most part. The English includes the denomination of the note spelled out and then as a numeral, and "Central Bank of Egypt".

Otherwise, note that the larger the denomination of the bill, the larger its actual size.

The Egyptian 25 piaster note



The oldest 25 piaster note

Date of issuing: 08/May/ 1952
Face Design: Tutankhamen who was the king of Egypt from 1334 to 1325 BC .
Back Design: The Abu al Abbas al-Mursi Mosque in Alexandria built in 1775. It is the largest Mosque in Alexandria.

  • Size: 131 X 70 mm.
  • Color: Mainly shades of green

The 25 piaster note today

Date of issuing: 06/July/1981
Face Design: The main item is said to be the Al-Sayida Aisha Mosque printed in blue. Interestingly, this is not a very well known mosque. Located in the Southern Cemetery in a section known as the Lesser Qarafa, it was built in 1762 by 'Abd al-Rahman Katkhuda and was restored in the early 20th century. On the left hand side of the note, a geometric pattern formed by parallel brown lines envelopes the watermark.
Back Design: The main feature is the Eagle of Salah El Din, the new symbol of the Republic of Egypt. The eagle is within a circle and just outside the circle to either side are several Nile agricultural crops.

  • Size: 70 X 130 mm
  • Color: Mainly shades of blue

The Egyptian 50 piaster note

The oldest 50 piaster note

Date of issuing: 01/January/1899
Face Design: The Great Sphinx is the main item with an unknown Mosque Minaret to the left.
Back Design: On the reverse is a simple Islamic rose with the name of the National Bank Of Egypt.

  • Size: 130 x 71 mm.
  • Color: Rose and light green on face and green on back

The 50 piaster note today:

Date of issuing: This note was first issued on 16/May/1981, when there was little modification. It was issued again on 15/July/1996
Face Design: The main item is the Al Azhar Mosque, which was built in 970 AD, and its minarets.
Back Design: A statue of Ramesses II is the main feature. There are also some lotus flowers and the Sun.

  • Size: 135 x 70 mm.
  • Color: Mainly shades of Red and Rose Colors.

The Egyptian one pound note


The Oldest Egyptian One Pound Bank Note

The oldest one pound note

Date of issuing: 01/January/1899
Face Design: Mainly the design of a large Camel with a baby Camel under the larger one. There is also an unknown Mosque Minaret.
Back Design: On the reverse are simple Islamic roses with the name of the National Bank of Egypt.

  • Size: 158 X 82 mm (Much bigger than others)
  • Color: Rose - light orange on face

Reverse of the Modern Egyptian One Pound Note

The one pound note used today:

Date of issuing: 15/May/1979
Face Design: The central feature of the note is the Mosque (actually, his funerary complex) of Sultan Qaitbay printed in dark brown. Qaitbay was a Mamluk who ruled Egypt from 1468 through 1496.
Back Design: The main feature is a part of the facade of the main Abu Simbel Temple. There are also two diamond shapes that have the number one printed inside them. There are also two horizontal bands of birds and other objects from ancient reliefs.

  • Size: 70 mm x 140mm
  • Color: Mainly shades of brown

The Egyptian five pounds note

The oldest five pounds note

Date of issuing: 01/January/1899
Face Design: Mainly a vague drawing of the Pyramids (of Giza) with two palm trees to the left. The name (Five Egyptian pounds) is printed largely in the middle with the name of the Central Bank of Egypt below.
Back Design: Simple Islamic roses with the name of the National Bank OF Egypt.

  • Size: 168 X 86 mm (Very large)
  • Color: Dark green on the face and light pink on the back

The Reverse of the Modern 5 Pound Egyptian Bank Note

The five pounds note used today:

Date of issuing: The modern five pound note was first issued in 17/June/1981. It was modified and issued again on 19/November/1989
Face Design: The main item is the Ibn Touloun Mosque, built in 879 AD, which is depicted with Islamic geometric drawings around its minarets. The name of the Central Bank of Egypt and the value of the note in Arabic letters are inscribed on the right hand side.
Back Design: The main feature of the reverse side is a Pharonic portrait of a king wearing the Atef Crown and making an offering of the Nile. At the Bottom there are various Pharaonic symbols.

  • Size: 145 X 70 mm
  • Color: Mainly shades of blue

The Egyptian ten pounds note

The Oldest 10 Pound Egyptian Bank Note

The oldest ten pound note

Date of issuing: 01/January/1912
Face Design: The main feature is a drawing of an old sail boat on the Nile in Aswan as some of the monuments in the background are recognizable..
Back Design: Simple Islamic roses with the name of the National Bank OF Egypt.

  • Size: 190 X 98 mm
  • Color: Blue-rose on face, gray on back

The ten pounds is the note that has changed most through time. It has changed more than six times

The Reverse of the modern Egyptian 10 Pound Note

The Ten pounds note used today:

Date of issuing: This note was first issued on 19/July/1979, and modified and issued again on 1/October/2003.
Face Design: The main element is a depiction of the Rifai Mosque. This mosque is located opposite the Madrasa of Sultan Hussain in Cairo. Work was originally begun under the supervision of architect Husayn Pasha Fahmy in 1869, but numerous problems, including the deaths of both the architect and his backers. Work was suspended until 1905 when it was finished under the direction of Max Herz Bey.
Back Design: The main feature is a statute of Chephren (Khafre), builder of the second largest pyramid at Giza.

  • Size: 150 X 70 mm
  • Color: Red and white shades

The Egyptian twenty pounds note


The twenty pounds note hasnt had any basic changes mainly since it was first issued. It was only modified twice but the main feature, The Mohamed Ali Mosque, remained the same

The 20 Pound Egyptian Bank Note

The twenty pounds note used today:

Date of issuing: The twenty pound note was first issued in 22/July/1980, Modified and issued again in 23/May/2001
Face Design: The main feature on the front is the Mohamed Ali Mosque in gray. Again, Islamic designs in green and gray be found to the left and right of the Mosque.
Back Design: The main element is a reproduction of wall reliefs in gray from the pillars of the Temple of Seti I, Above this is an Egyptian war chariot, probably depicting Ramesses II.

  • Size: 155 X 70 mm
  • Color: Mainly green and brown
The Egyptian Fifty pounds note

There is only one design of the fifty Egyptian pounds note

The revese of the 50 Pound Egyptian Bank Note

The fifty pounds note used today:

Date of issuing: The fifty pound note was first issued 17/March/1993 and was modified and issued again on 29/November/2001
Face Design: The main feature is the Abu Hurayba Mosque, with various Islamic patterns above and below The Hurayba Mosque is perhaps better known to us today as the Al-Ishaqi Mosque, but Prince Qijmas al-Ishaqi died in Syria in 1487 and was buried there. Abu Hurayba though, was entombed here in 1852.
Back Design: The main feature is an inside view of the Horus Temple at Edfu. There is also a winged scarab and the sun boat to the left.

  • Size: 160 X 70 mm
  • Color: Mainly shades of red

The Egyptian Hundred pounds note


There are only two designs of the one hundred pounds note.

The reverse of the oldest 100 pound Egyptian Bank note.

The oldest one hundred pounds note

Date of issuing: 15/May/1979
Face Design: The main item, in gray, is the Al-Sayida Zaynab Mosque, first built in 1549. Otherwise, there are the Islamic designs to the left and right of the Mosque.
Back Design: Here is located the famous Tutankhamen funerary mask which is positioned vertically. Beneath it is a tomb scene, and there are various other Islamic.

  • Designs. Size: 165 X 70 mm
  • Color: Green and pink

The front of a modern 100 pound Egyptian bank note

The one hundred pounds note used today:

Date of issuing: The modern one hundred pound note was first issued on 15/November/1994 and modified and issued again on 13/November/2000
Face Design: The main feature is the Sultan Hassan Mosque which was built in 1256 AD.
Back Design: The main feature is the head of the Great Sphinx. This is beside the colorful drawings at the top that looks as a curtain as well but with different decoration and style.

  • Size: 165 X 70 mm
  • Color: Green and pink shades with a white back ground
Mainly Egyptians used Pharonic decorations for the English side of the bank notes and Islamic decorations and symbols for the Arabic side. They were also one of the early users of watermarks in order to prevent counterfeiting.

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