Tag Archives: Egyptian Piastres 1940s

What does 50 piastres buy?

Leonard Fortuna arrived in Australia with 50 piatres; money from Egypt. It was recorded on his Property Statement and transferred to his Australian account.  Prisoners of war were prohibited from having money in their possession.

A question arises about the value of fifty piastres.  One hundred piastres equalled an Egyptian pound in the 1940s.  But what could a man buy with fifty piastres?

The answer can be found in a Canteen Price List from Camp 306 in Egypt March 1944.

For fifty piatres one could buy a five pound tin of honey.  Fifty piastres could also buy a kilo of olives, a kilo of macaroni, and a hair brush OR a medium chocolate, a tin of pilchards, a bottle of syrup and cigarettes OR five packets of biscuits, eau de cologne and a kilo of macaroni.

Archives du CICR Campo 306

In the photo below, the canteen supervisor shows the International Delegate for the Red Cross dates and eggs on sale at the canteen.

Geneiffa, camp de prisonniers de guerre italiens N° 306 “Middle East”. Le prisonnier de guerre en charge de la cantine vendant des oeufs et des dattes à un délégué du CICR.

Prisoner of War in Charge of Canteen 4.10.41

 ICRC V-P-HIST-03408-14A

The following is from an October 1943 report on Camp 306: The canteen is run by an Egyptian. It is very well supplied with products and articles of all kinds. there are fresh fruits and vegetables, canned food, syrup, toiletries (soap, toothbrushes, toothpaste, razor blades, shaving soap, etc.) clothing items (underwear, shirts, shorts, socks, stockings, handkerchiefs) stationery (paper, feathers, ink, pencils) tobacco, cigarettes, sweets and sold at local trade prices. The prices are established in Egyptian piastres (there are 100 piastres in an Egyptian pound).  (October 1943)

This history is complex and often a small item such as fifty piastres from Egypt when paired with a Canteen Price List can offer new insight.