Very Rare NGC-graded 1920 Egypt 20 Piastres in Baldwin’s of St. James’s Auction

Posted on 11/28/2017

Egyptian coin from a mintage of two is featured in a January 2018 auction.

Baldwin's of St. James's will auction a very rare 1920H Egypt 20 Piastres in its Auction 14 in January 2018.

Graded NGC MS 64, this silver coin is just one of two struck. It is pedigreed to the Birmingham Mint Museum, and is the plate coin for the Standard Catalog of World Coins by Krause Publications. The second coin is in a museum in Egypt.

The coin is one of the rarest from 20th century Egypt, and its reverse is inscribed with the year for both the Gregorian calendar (1920, written in English) and the Islamic calendar (1338, written in Arabic). The mixture of languages on the coin reflects a turbulent time, when Egypt and the strategically important Suez Canal were under British control. The Egyptian revolution of 1919 had just left hundreds dead in a bid to expel the British.

1920H Egypt 20 Piastres, graded NGC MS 64
Click images to enlarge

The ruler of Egypt in 1920 was Sultan Ahmed Fuad I (later King Ahmed Fuad I). His son and successor, Farouk I, was born in 1920, and is well-known in numismatic circles for assembling one of the greatest coin collections ever.

The 1920H 20 Piastres was the highest of four denominations struck that year, including the 2 Piastres (mintage: 2.8 million), the 5 Piastres (mintage: 1 million) and the 10 Piastres (mintage: 500,000). These are the only coins attributed to Fuad I’s sultanate, which lasted from 1917 until 1922, when he became king.

With a large number of 20 Piastres from 1916 and 1917 already in circulation, larger production was not approved for the 1920H 20 Piastres. The Birmingham Mint (previously known as Heaton's Mint) struck the two 1920H 20 Piastres as samples: one was saved by the mint (now graded NGC MS 64 and to be sold by Baldwin's of St. James's) and one was given to the Egyptian ruler (now in a museum in Egypt).

A piastre is one-hundredth of a pound; to this day, the pound is the name of the currency in Egypt.

This silver 20 Piastres was struck in 0.833 fineness and weighs 28 grams, or a little more than a US Morgan Dollar.

The coin will be offered for sale on Jan. 14 at the New York International Numismatic Convention. Baldwin’s of St. James’s will hold viewings Jan. 11-14 of this and other rarities being offered as part of Auction 14.

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