This rare token was issued by Borel, Lavalley, and Company, an engineering firm and contractor to the Suez Canal Company. Frenchman Ferdinand de Lesseps and his Suez Canal Company built the canal between 1859 and 1869.
Paul Borel and Alexandre Lavalley formed their company in December 1863. Graduates of a polytechnic school, both worked in the railway industry before joining the canal project. An estimated 74 million cubic meters of material was excavated for the main canal, and Borel and Lavalley handled more than 75 percent of it. (Karabell, 2004, p. 208-210.)
The company issued trade tokens, presumably for workers to buy provisions at the company store. Tokens are good for 20 cents, 50 cents, 1 Franc, or 5 Francs. The 5 Franc pieces are the most rare.
Shown here is a 50 cent piece. The obverse depicts a ship in the center, surrounded by beads and an inscription:
TRAVAUX DU CANAL DE SUEZ
WORKS ON THE SUEZ CANAL
The reverse shows the denomination, a circle of beads, and an inscription:
BOREL LAVALLEY ET COMPIE
BOREL LAVALLEY AND COMPANY
Reference: Karabell, Z. (2003). Parting the Desert: The Creation of the Suez Canal. Knopf.