Cowrie Shell, Uganda, Africa


Small seashells have many characteristics that make them ideal monetary objects. They are durable, portable, and difficult to imitate. One species of cowrie shell is known as the money shell because it was used so widely for this purpose. Shells circulated as a medium of exchange in Asia, Africa, Oceania, and North America.

Date Made: n.d.

Place Used: AfricaUganda

See more items in: Work and Industry: National Numismatic Collection

Exhibition: The Value of Money

Exhibition Location: National Museum of American History

Related Publication: Feingold, Ellen R.. Value of Money, The

Credit Line: Chase Manhattan Bank

Data Source: National Museum of American History

Id Number: 1979.1263.00542Catalog Number: 1979.1263.00542Accession Number: 1979.1263Collector/Donor Number: OC150A

Object Name: cowrie shell moneyalternative currencyOther Terms: Cowry Shell Money; Africa; Uganda

Physical Description: shell, cowry (overall material)white (overall color)gray (overall color)orange/yellow (overall color)natural (overall production method/technique)Measurements: overall: 1.4 cm x 2.75 cm x 2.15 cm; 9/16 in x 1 3/32 in x 27/32 in


Record Id: nmah_1066384

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