18. Austrian Thaler, 1766 CE

The creditor in the debt contract from 1766 CE, Ḥakham Shabbetay ʿAdda, is likely none other than the communal leader whom Napoleon Bonaparte appointed as "Grand Prêtre de la Nation Juive" during the French occupation of Egypt between 1798-1801. Before assuming the post, Rabbi ʿAdda headed Cairo's yeshiva and served on the city's rabbinic courts throughout the late eighteenth century [1]. R. ʿAdda's business activities are attested elsewhere in the Cairo Geniza and here they are demonstrative of the widespread circulation of Austrian Habsburg coinage in Egypt– especially after the introduction of Maria Theresa's regnal thaler in 1741 (CUL: T-S 10J6.19; AIU: VII.E.185.). In Egyptian Arabic the Austrian thaler came to be known as abūtāqa, baṭāqa, or, as it appears in the debt contract, rīyāl abūtāqa. One explanation for this label "father of the little window," could be that the structure of the Habsburg crest on Austrian thalers (with its four quadrants) resembled the iron frames placed over early modern windows around Egypt [2].

[1] "Bonaparte, général en chef ordonne: Article 1 Sabbato Adda et Telebi di Figura [sic] sont nommés grands prêtres de la nation juive." Napoléon Bonaparte, "3258. – Ordre, Quartier général, au Caire, 21 fructidor au VI (7 septembre 1798)," Correspondance de Napoléon I: Publiée Par Ordre de L'Empereur Napoléon III, Tome IV, Henri Plon and J. Dumaine, eds. (Paris: Plon, 1860), 474; Zvi Zohar, "Halakhic and Rabbinic Literature in Egypt in the Last Two Centuries" (in Hebrew), Pe'amim 86-87 (Winter-Spring, 2001): 178.

[2] Kenneth Cuno, The Pasha's Peasants: Land, Society, and Economy in Lower Egypt, 1740-1858 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1992), 211; Khalid Mohammed Azab, "Overview of Economic Relations Between the Islamic World and the West," Journal of the Egyptian Scientific Institute 92 (2017): 10.

"Acknowledgement of Debt," CUL T-S 6J2.34r, 1766 CE, Hebrew.

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1 Before us the undersigned witnesses appeared the respectable, noble, and honorable David b. Elʿazar Qandiote, may His Rock keep him and grant him life, and he said to us: | בפנינו עדים ח׳׳מ בה היקר ונעלה כה׳׳ר דוד בכ׳׳ר אליעזר קאנדייוטי יצ׳׳ו ואמר לנו

2 be for me confirmed witnesses and perform for me verbally an outright and complete symbolic purchase, | אתם הוו עלי עדים גמורים וקנו ממני קגו׳׳ש בלשון מעכשיו וכתבו בכל לשון של זכות

3 and record it… and give it to Ḥakham Shabbetay ʿAdda, may his life end well, that I owe an outright debt to him for a loan of six | ויפוי נ׳׳ז ותנו ביד הח׳׳ שבתי עדה ס׳׳ט איך אני חייב לו חוב גמור ומלוה זקופה סך ששה

4 good and heavy rīyāles abūtāqas... | ...ריאליס אבותאקה טבי ותקולי

(ed. Matthew Dudley and Alan Elbaum)

Austrian Thaler from the Princeton Numismatic Collection (Coin: 6863)

Denomination: taler

Metal: Silver

Region: Europe

State: Austria

Date: 1740 to 1780

Obverse Figure Description: Bust, right

Obverse Attributes: S.F., below bust

Reverse Figure Description: Double eagle, crowned, with arms

Size: 40mm

Die Axis: 12

Weight: 28.03 grams

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