Book Review

In 2004 the magisterial first book by our Cairo member Magdy Hanafy, Encyclopaedia and Catalogue of Egyptian Money: The Egyptian Banknote, was deservedly awarded the International Bank Note Society book of the year award for its in-depth research and presentation. The volume detailed all Egyptian currency notes from 25 piastres to ŁE100.

Now Magdy has followed up* by examining in detail the country's paper-money "loose change", the 5-piastre and 10-piastre notes. First printed in the 1914-18 war as an emerg-ency measure to compensate for a shortage of the metal required to mint smaller-value coins, the notes were revived in 1940 and survived until 1989, when they were withdrawn as being of too small a value. But outcry followed, and they were reintroduced ten years later and continue in circulation today.

I don't collect paper money, but the painstaking research and effort involved in looking into the history of these unconsidered trifles is both patent and staggering: as in his first volume, Magdy has for the first time been able to produce a list detailing every issue, together with the subtle changes in design, colour, watermark, number issued, printers and printing methods, authorising signature and so on.

The book is beautifully printed in full colour, with every banknote illustrated, back and front, together with a detailed description of each and the history of the issue, giving enough information - bilingually, in excellent English (by Dr Ali Mehilba) and Arabic - even for the non-specialist to become enthralled by the advancing story.

Starting from a base of virtually no knowledge, the author's personal research has produced a sophisticated volume. That such a handsome and infinitely useful piece of reference work should come from a fascination with two currency notes commonly viewed as virtually worthless and with a circulation life of only 3-6 months is a measure of the amount of work required. It has paid off handsomely! Mike Murphy (ESC 240) * Encyclopaedia and catalogue of Egyptian Money: The Egyptian Currency Note, by Magdy Hanafy, 160pp, available from the author at 26 Adly Street, Apartment 203, Niaza Building, Cairo, Egypt (, 00 202 393793). The price is €30 (hard-back) or €15 (paper-back), with 10% discount for ESC members.

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