The Piastres: Sultanate Of Egypt


This article will discuss the Egyptian silver Piastres used during the British Sultanate of Egypt. The piastres were initially based upon the Ottoman Qirsh. Coins used in Egypt at this time can be somewhat confusing since they have similar names, sizes, and metal content. The Qirsh was based on the Ottoman Kurus. In Europe at that time, the kurus were known as “Piastres” in English. Making the names somewhat interchangeable and confusing. Piastre’s meaning originates from the Italian word for “Thin metal plate.”

British Occupation of Egypt

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

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.


Sultanate of Egypt

The veiled protectorate lasted from 1882-to 1914. Britain declared war on the Ottoman Empire and named Egypt a formal protectorate at the beginning of WW1, meaning it took complete control of the nation. However, the movement of British troops out of Cairo during World War I gave revolutionaries a chance to unite, and anti-British rebellions popped up.

The Sultanate of Egypt was the short-lived protectorate that the United Kingdom imposed over Egypt between 1914 and 1922. During this period, the Egyptian Piastre was minted by the British. Like the Ottomans, the British had difficulty holding onto Egypt as a territory. Eventually, Britain resolved their problems by declaring Egypt an independent country.


The Piastre

During the British Sultanate, they minted very similar coins to the Qirsh. Except this coin used the English name “Piastre.” Even though it was based on the qirsh, the piastre was minted by the British, not the Ottoman Empire or Egypt’s Monarchy.

In the Ottoman Empire, the word piastre was a colloquial European name for Kuruş. The Ottomans debased the values of the Kurus/qirsh throughout the Middle East. Eventually, these Kurus/Qirsh became subsidiary units for the Ottoman gold Lira.


After the fall of the Ottoman Empire, these coins became subunits for the Turkish pound (and subunits of other countries’ pounds that used to be a part of the Ottoman Empire).

Once Egypt gained its independence from the British, Egypt continued to use the name “Piastre” for its currency. This is the same name that remains in use today, except it is now a subunit of the Egyptian pound.

Silver Piastre
Egypt – 20 Piastre 1916 Reverse
Sultanate of egypt
Egypt – 20 Piastre 1916 Obverse

Silver Piastres for Sale

The Egyptian silver Piastres is a fascinating coin because of Egypt’s complex history. Coins from Egypt often have a fascinating history attached to them. Except everyone typically focuses on ancient Egypt rather than the more modern history of Egypt. Below is a link to all of the silver Middle East coins for sale.

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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