King Farouk (11 February 1920 – 18 March 1965) ascended the throne in Egypt in 1936 on the death of his father, King Faud I. Young Farouk – just 16 when he took the throne – was “wild” by the standards of his time and was an avid collector of many things, including coins. He spent the Egyptian government’s money wantonly on his collections and good times, so much so that in 1952 a military coup d’état forced Farouk to abdicate in favor of his young son, Faud II. Farouk died 13 years later in exile in Italy.
The king’s numismatic holdings were near-legendary. At one point he owned a 1933 double eagle and a pair of 1913 Liberty nickels. In 1954 the government of Egypt held an enormous auction sale of the Farouk coins. Dubbed the Palace Collections of Egypt by the sellers, the coins brought world-wide attention. Americans – as well as others from around the globe – flocked to Cairo for the sale. The collection was cataloged by London coin dealer Fred Baldwin under harsh conditions imposed by the Egyptian authorities. Therefore some extremely rare coins were lotted up with more common pieces; this held true for the sections of United States coins as well as coins issued by other countries.