The Qirsh: Ottoman Coinage

Silver Qirsh Eyalet of Egypt Ottoman Egypt coins


This article looks at the Silver Qirsh used during the Ottoman rule of Egypt, a brief history of the Ottoman Eyalet of Egypt, the British protectorate, and how the coin influenced the name of Egypt’s current currency. The qirsh was a vital coin, alongside many other Ottoman coins used in Egypt.

Eyalet of Egypt 

The Eyalet of Egypt was an administrative arm of the Ottoman Empire. Ottoman rule of Egypt started in 1517 due to the Ottoman–Mamluk War. Ottoman rule continued until 1867, when the slow decline of the Ottoman Empire began. The Ottomans always had issues ruling Egypt due to various influences and power struggles between the different groups in Egypt.

From 1882-to 1922, Britain formally occupied Egypt and controlled its government. At first, it was what was called a veiled protectorate. Britain managed the Egyptian budget, took over training its military, and ran Egypt through various underhanded tactics designed to protect British investments.


Ottoman Egypt

From 1882 onwards, Egypt’s status became deeply convoluted. It officially remained a province of the Ottoman Empire. While also a semi-official and virtually independent state with its monarchy, armed forces, and territorial possessions in Sudan. All mixed in with the British influence during the protectorate they placed on Egypt in 1882.


Egypt Sultanate

The veiled protectorate lasted from 1882-to 1914, after which Britain declared war on the Ottoman Empire and named Egypt a formal protectorate, where it took complete control of the nation. The Sultanate of Egypt was the short-lived protectorate that the United Kingdom imposed over Egypt between 1914 and 1922. In 1922, Britain resolved their problems by declaring Egypt independent.

The Qirsh

The kuruş was a precursor to the qirsh and was introduced in 1688. It was, at first, a large piece of silver. Historians state that it was similar to/based upon European thalers and other similar silver coins. Later, after their money debasement, the Ottomans introduced “The Gold Lira.” The qirsh became a shared subunit of the Ottoman Empire. Before that, the Kurus was the standard coin of the Ottomans.

The Qirsh is a silver coin continually minted under various Ottoman sultans. It was even minted during the veiled protectorate of Egypt by the British. In 1844 the Ottomans first stamped and introduced the Ottoman Gold Lire. The silver Qirsh was to act as a subunit. The Gold Lire was equal to 100 silver qirshes.


The silver qirsh was minted in 1, 2, 5, 10, and 20 qirshes. These coins are valuable to collectors because of their silver content and history. Like the one below, coins in better condition are worth a decent amount more than the melt value of the silver.

Silver Qirsh Eyalet of Egypt Ottoman Egypt coins
5 Qirsh Reverse
Ottoman Egypt coins
5 Qirsh Obverse

From 1914 – to 1922, they minted very similar coins to the Qirsh during the British Sultanate. This coin used its English name, “Piastre.” Even though it was based on the qirsh, the British minted the piastre. Once Egypt gained independence from the British, it continued using “Piastre” as its currency. This is the same name Egypt uses today, except it is now a subunit of the Egyptian pound.

Silver Qirsh for Sale

The Ottoman qirsh is a great coin to collect, especially for those interested in Ottoman history and coins. Below is a link to all of our silver Middle East coins for sale. See if we have the Qirsh that is right for your collection. All orders ship from Halifax, NovaScotia, Canada.

Silver Qirsh

Published by Invest in History Co.

We specialize in high-quality gold and silver coins. Focusing on Middle East, Eastern European, and Ancient coins. We carry Roman, Greek, Parthian, Phoenician, Celtic, Byzantine, Russian, Jewish, Islamic, and many other culture's coins.

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