BrianRxm The Mysterious Egyptian Magic Coin BrianRxm
Good Luck Coin with Pharaoh Sphinx Pyramids
  Home Email Manager
Egyptian Magic Coins are coins with Egyptian symbols which have been made since 1905.
They were originally part of watch fobs but were then manufactured as independent items.
 
They have appeared for years on Internet coin collector and metal detector boards, on Ebay,
at coin shows, and even in motion pictures.
 
They have been found in almost every state in the United States, and all over the world,
including Britain, Canada, Australia, South Africa, Germany, France, Poland, Portugal,
the Czech Republic, Switzerland, Uruguay, and, yes, Egypt.
Egyptian Magic Coin generic
1. Egyptian Magic Coin
 
The standard Egyptian Magic Coin has an Egyptian Pharaoh, a Sphinx, and Pyramids.
The obverse side displays the Pharaoh and the reverse side displays the Sphinx and Pyramids.
 
The obverse has an Egyptian Pharaoh seated on a throne supported by cats, surrounded by various
Hieroglyphic symbols including a pair of fish, a man seated, and a jar.
 
The reverse has an Egyptian Sphinx facing left, behind the Sphinx are four Pyramids and a sunburst.
Below the Sphinx are Hieroglyphic symbols including a bird, three dots, and an Ankh.
The pyramids become larger from left to right.
 
The creator and designer of these items or the base watch fob is unknown.
Searches for trademark or patent registrations have turned up nothing.
 
They would fall into the category of "good luck coins", "magic coins" or "magician's coins".
 
The standard size is 32mm and they are usually made of brass or bronze.
There are three main types of these items and several varieties.
There are some varieties which incorporate a standard obverse or reverse with the other side
having a completely different design.
 
Normally they do not have any text or writing on them, but there are examples created for advertising
with text and logos on them.
 
Some have traces of white plating or paint.
Some are plain round coins, some have loops for wearing them as jewelry or amulets.
Sometimes loops have been removed to create a "coin".
Many are found very worn and possibly they were kept as pocket pieces.
 
The design may have been inspired by the "Egyptian Revival" fad of the late 1800's,
which saw ancient Egyptian designs being worked into architecture and art.
 
The design might also be based on an ancient Egyptian "HypoCephalus",
a small linen or papyrus disc placed on the head of a mummy body before interment.
These items are round and have Egyptian hieroglyphics and symbols on them.
 
Egyptian Magic Coins have been around since at least 1905, when a listing for one appeared
in the 1905 Sears & Roebuck mail-order catalog as part of a watch fob.
 
The 1922 discovery of the tomb of the Pharaoh Tutankhamun or "King Tut"
created another wave of "Egyptian Revival" items, including more of these coins.
 
Some were sold by traveling carnivals and circuses as good luck coins.
Some were handed out by stage magicians, hence the description "Magic Coins".
Some were sold at the Chicago Century of Progress World's Fair of 1933-1934, and at other large events.
Some tourists in Egypt have reported seeing these items for sale in the bazaars.
 
They turn up frequently on Internet coin collector and metal detector boards by members asking people to
identify an "Ancient Egyptian Coin", "Aztec Coin" "Mayan Coin", or something similar.
 
One made it into a major Hollywood film, the 1946 film "Duel in the Sun".
Walter Huston gives one to Jennifer Jones to protect her from "sinning" with Gregory Peck.
 
They have all kinds of names, including "Egyptian Challenge Coin","King Tut Challenge Coin",
or "Tutankhamun Challenge Coin".
 
Some have been sold as "Coins of Joseph", the Biblical character from Genesis who was sold
by his brothers and later became an Egyptian official.
 
One can wonder if Egypt's King Farouk, a notorious coin collector, ever owned one.
 
They aren't worth very much, they have sold on Ebay for prices ranging $1.00 to $100.00,
the price depending on condition or if the coin has an unusual design, an inscription, or advertising.
Egyptian Magic Coin types:
 
There are three main types of these items and the first type (Type 1) is the most common.
 
Egyptian Magic Coin types
2. Egyptian Magic Coin Obverse types
 
Type 1 - The Pharaoh's chair armrests have no marks and to the right of his head are three balls.
Type 2 - The Pharaoh's chair armrests have a group of horizontal lines halfway down and to the
right of his head are three balls.
Type 3 - The Pharaoh's chair armrests have no marks, to the left of his head is a bird and to the
right of his head is an Ankh mark (a vertical loop).
 
Egyptian Magic Coin types
3. Egyptian Magic Coin Reverse types
 
Type 1 - Below the Sphinx face is a bird with a short beak.
Type 2 - Below the Sphinx face is a bird with a long curved beak.
Type 3 - Below the Sphinx face is a squared squiggle and a fish.
Sears & Roebuck Catalog 1905 listing for a watch fob with an identical medallion:
 
Sears Catalog 1905 Spring
4. Sears & Roebuck Catalog 1905 Watch Fob listing
 
The item appeared in the 1905 Sears & Roebuck Catalog Spring and Fall editions, also in 1906 and 1907.
The 1905 listing did not show the medallion's other side.
 
No. 4C16186  The latest craze.
Gentlemen's fob, ancient Egyptian design, silver plated, oxidized finish on German silver.
Length 5½ inches.
 
No. 4C16187  Same as No. 4C16186, but gilt finish.
 
Price, each $0.12, 6 for $0.66, 12 for $1.25
 
By 1907 the listing had a smaller size and the price had been reduced:
 
Sears Catalog 1907 Spring
5. Sears & Roebuck Catalog 1907 Watch Fob listing
 
This listing shows the other side of the watch fob.
 
A Sears & Roebuck Watch Fob:
 
Watch Fob Sears
6. Sears & Roebuck Watch Fob
 
Bronze, plated, 6 inches (15cm), 34.45gm (total), 23.39gm (fob only)
 
This one has seen some use:
 
Watch Fob Sears coin
7. Sears & Roebuck Watch Fob Coin
 
Bronze, plated, 32mm, 11.05gm, Type 1
Movie Star:
 
An Egyptian Magic Coin appears in the 1946 David Selznick film "Duel in the Sun", a Western film
set in the 1880's at a large southwestern cattle ranch.
 
This was a major Hollywood film, sometimes called the "Gone with the Wind" of Westerns,
as both films were produced by Selznick International Pictures.
 
The film starred Joseph Cotten and Gregory Peck as good and bad brothers, Jennifer Jones as a
sexy "half-breed" girl, and Walter Huston as a travelling preacher.
 
At one point Walter Huston gives Jennifer Jones a religious medallion with the idea that
it will keep her "pure". It doesn't work.
 
The medallion is a standard Egyptian Magic Coin, Type 1, and is heavily worn.
 
Duel in the Sun medal Huston
8. Walter Huston gives Jennifer Jones a medallion on a chain
 
Duel in the Sun medal Pharaoh
9. Film medallion - Pharaoh side
 
Duel in the Sun medal Sphinx
10. Film medallion - Sphinx side
 
For more information, please visit: Coins in Movies - Duel in the Sun
Egyptian Magic Coin with Swastika:
 
Egyptian Magic Coin Swastika
11. Egyptian Magic Coin with Swastika
 
Bronze, 32mm, 13.13gm, Type 1
 
This item is a standard Type 1 with the addition of a Swastika and intials on the reverse.
There is also a logo with the initials "FEK" or "PEK", this may be a manufacturer.
 
The origin of this variety is unknown, as is the reason for the swastika.
Egyptian Magic Coin with Central Electric and Okonite advertising:
 
Egyptian Magic Coin Okonite
12. Egyptian Magic Coin advertising for Central Electric Okonite
 
Bronze, 32mm, 9.74gm, Obverse Type 1
 
This one has a loop for wearing it as jewelry or an amulet
The Central Electric Company of Chicago sold electrical supplies.
The Okonite Company was one of the first US makers of insulated electrical wire and cable.
Early customers included Thomas Edison and Samuel Morse.
Egyptian Magic Coin from France with obelisk obverse:
 
Egyptian Magic Coin France Obelisk
13. Egyptian Magic Coin from France with obelisk obverse
 
Bronze, 33mm, 9.42gm, Reverse Type 1
 
The obverse has an obelisk and several small sphinxes in two rows leading to a temple.
The reverse has the same sphinx and pyramids reverse as a standard magic coin.
This one came from France and was possibly made there.
Egyptian Magic Coin with woman's head obverse:
 
Egyptian Magic Coin Woman
14. Egyptian Magic Coin with woman's head and sphinx-pyramids
 
White metal, 32mm, 10.50gm, Reverse Type 1
 
One side of this coin has a design of a woman's head.
The other side has the usual magic coin sphinx-pyramids design.
Origin unknown.
Egyptian Magic Coin with toning:
 
Egyptian Magic Coin toned
15. Egyptian Magic Coin with toning
 
Bronze, 32mm, 9.87gm, Type 1
Egyptian Magic Coin with gold plating:
 
Egyptian Magic Coin gold plated
16. Egyptian Magic Coin with gold plating
 
Bronze, 32mm, 8.64gm, Type 1, gold-plated
 
Someone took an ordinary Egyptian Magic Coin and gold-plated it.
Egyptian Magic Coin made from zinc:
 
Egyptian Magic Coin Zinc
17. Egyptian Magic Coin made from zinc
 
Zinc, 32mm, 7.11gm, Type 1, lots of corrosion
 
A new low, an Egyptian Magic Coin made from zinc.
Egyptian Magic Coin colorized with painted colors:
 
Egyptian Magic Coin colorized
18. Egyptian Magic Coin with loop and colorized with painted colors
 
Bronze, 32mm, 10.02gm, Type 1, painted
 
In this one, the Pharaoh side is colored blue and the Sphinx side is turquoise, red, and white.
These items are usually hand-painted and come in various colors.
 
The popular musical group "The Grateful Dead" performed in Egypt a few times,
and these items have occasionally been marketed as mementos of the performances.
Egyptian Magic Coin with Seated Pharaoh:
 
This is an alternate variety, with the common elements but smaller in size and with a different design.
 
Egyptian Magic Coin seated
19. Egyptian Magic Coin with seated Pharaoh and loop
 
White metal, 26mm, 4.30gm
 
This example is similar to the standard magic coins but is smaller.
It is plated with white metal, possibly silver.
The design is not quite the same as the standard magic coin.
The Pharaoh is facing but is seated on a mat, not a throne.
The Sphinx is facing right, on standard coins it faces left.
The pyramids get larger from right to left, standard coins are left to right.
It may have been manufactured in Britain or in a British Commonwealth country.
Egyptian Magic Coin Type 3:
 
An example of the rare Type 3 design.
 
Egyptian Magic Coin Alternate
20. Egyptian Magic Coin from Britain
 
Bronze, 32mm, 9.49gm, Type 3, silver-plated
 
This one has a slightly altered design from the regular version.
It came from England may have been manufactured in Great Britain or a British Commonwealth country.
Two coins for one:
 
Egyptian Magic Coin Straits
21. Egyptian Magic Coin with coin attached
 
Bronze, 32mm, 12.15gm, Type 3
 
This one had a coin glued or soldered onto one side (Why?).
The attachment was not very good and the coins were able to be separated.
The weight with the attached coin is 17.91gm.
The coin is a British Straits Settlements five cent coin dated 1919.
 
The Straits Settlements became British Malaya and later independent as the Federation of Malaysia.
It is possible that the work was done there.
Egyptian Magic Coin Sphinx on a colored glass button:
 
Egyptian Magic Coin glass
22. Egyptian Magic Coin sphinx design on a colored glass button
 
Colored glass, 32mm, 5.62gm, Reverse Type 1
 
This item is made of yellow glass.
One side is blank and the other has the Egyptian Magic Coin Sphinx design.
It was made in Czechoslovakia.
Egyptian Magic Coin variant with "Helen Trent" or "Pokémon" design:
 
This variety was created as a promotion on a radio program for a toothpaste brand.
 
Egyptian Magic Coin Pokemon
23. Egyptian Magic Coin variant with "Helen Trent" or "Pokémon" design
 
Nickel or nickel-plated steel, 32mm, 11.08gm
 
This version uses the same symbols as a standard magic coin but in a different manner.
Sometimes the design is described as "Aztec", "Mexican", or "Asian".
 
It has been around since at least 1948 when a Life Magazine photographer named Herbert Gehr
took a photograph of one in January of 1948.
Life Magazine kept the photograph in their archives but did not use it in the magazine.
 
It was made and given away in 1949 as a promotion for the radio program "The Romance of Helen Trent"
which ran from 1933 to 1960 and was sponsored by Kolynos tooth powder and toothpaste.
 
This coin has a similarity to the Japanese cartoon and video game character "Pokémon",
produced by the Nintendo company.
 
This example appears to have had a loop removed.
Others posted on Internet boards for identification have a loop attached.
Egyptian Magic Coin made into jewelry:
 
Egyptian Magic Coin jewelry
24. Egyptian Magic Coin made into jewelry pin
 
Bronze, 2-3/4 x 1-5/8 inches (7.0mm x 4.2mm), 29.26gm, Type 1
 
This ornate pin is made from a magic coin with crescents attached.
It looks like it is a one-of-a-kind item, possibly made from a metal belt buckle.
Origin unknown but possibly somewhere in the Middle East or Egypt.
British or Australian Watch Fob variety:
 
This is an alternate variety, with the common elements but with a different design.
It arrived from Australia and may have been manufactured there or in a British Commonwealth country.
 
Watch Fob Australia
25. British / Australian Watch Fob
 
Bronze, plated, 5 inches (12.7cm), 23.28gm (total), 14.97gm (fob only)
 
Watch Fob Australia coin
26. British / Australian Watch Fob Coin
 
Bronze, plated, 32mm, 8.31gm
 
This one has a different image style than the standard magic coins.
The Pharaoh is facing left and the Sphinx is facing right.
Tarot Card designs may have inspired the Egyptian Magic Coin design:
 
Tarot Cards
27. Tarot Card examples
 
The coin design may come from the same source as the Rider-Waite Tarot Cards,
published in 1909 by William Rider, Dr Arthur Edward Waite, and artist Pamela Colman Smith.
 
The first card with the Emperor seated is certainly similar to the Egyptian Magic Coin Pharaoh.
The chariot card also has similarities.