Egypt's First Paper Pound: Where'd That Bactrian Come From?

From MEI Editor's Blog Mon Jan 7 2013, 17:31:00

Here's one for any of you who are numismatists or historians of paper currency. Though the Egyptian pound was first authorized in 1834, it circulated as specie until 1899, when the first Egyptian paper pound appeared (January 5 marked its anniversary):

Look at the camels. The sitting camel has two humps: it's a Bactrian, from Iran, Afghanistan, Central Asia or points East. Outside of zoos, there are no Bactrians in Egypt or the rest of North Africa. (And while it may be due to the artist, it seems smaller than the one-humped camel, whereas Bactrians tend to be rather bulky and have longer hair.)

So why? A European engraver who had no clue about camels? Lobbying by the Camel Campaign for Equal Humps? (And all this is without commenting on the stereotype of choosing camels as Egypt's symbol in the first place: why not pyramids?)

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