Nile River gold coin marks Cold War geopolitical, engineering event

Rare Egyptian gold coin in auction closing April 18
By , Coin World
Published : 04/03/17
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Diversion of the Nile River to allow creation of the Aswan High Dam in Egypt was more than a mere technological marvel.

The effort to build the dam was also, in a way, a milestone in the Cold War, as the Soviet Union and the United States of America sought to project power and exert influence around the globe.

Soon after potentates and dignitaries pressed a button to unleash a torrent of water diverting the river, Egypt released multiple coin issues, including four silver coins in various denominations.

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A gold 5-pound coin is one of two gold coins also marking the occasion. 

An example of this coin, graded About Uncirculated 58 by Numismatic Guaranty Corp., is being offered in Éditions V. Gadoury’s online auction ending April 18. This is the second online auction of world gold slabbed coins from the Monaco-based firm, and the Egyptian coin is among 120 lots in the sale.

The coin depicts the Aswan Dam (or the portion that had been created to that point, apparently) on the obverse, with a rising sun in the background heralding a new dawn. The symbolism was intentional, as Egypt’s President Gamal Abdul Nasser was counting on the dam project to help spur economic renewal in Egypt.


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When American support for the dam, by way of millions of dollars, fell through, President Nasser convinced Soviet leader Nikita Kruschev to back the project. The dam was financed and built with Russian help, though American investments did help move a culturally significant Nubian site, including the Abu Simbel temples, out of the floodplain.

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