manilla (manilla)


Like cowries, manillas were used as currency to buy enslaved people. They were made of copper alloy cast in moulds. Thousands were manufactured in many European cities, including Exeter where there was a foundry in St Thomas. In 1505 an enslaved African could be bought for 10 manillas in Calabar (now Nigeria).

Manillas were produced in their millions and imported to West Africa for over 350 years, primarily as currency, but also as a source of copper. It finally ceased as coinage in 1948, when over 32 million were handed in for exchange.

This object is not on display.

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