Kissi Penny


Kissi pennies are made from iron and take their name from the Kissi people of modern-day Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Guinea. It is believed that the shape was intended to display the quality of the iron. The shape shows that the iron can be twisted, hammered, sharpened into a blade, and fashioned into points. Kissi pennies were primarily used in West Africa in the first half of the twentieth century. They could be exchanged for coins and notes circulating in the region. Individual Kissi pennies could be used to make small purchases, but were typically arranged in bundles of 20 for larger payments. In the early twentieth century, a cow could be purchased for 30-40 bundles.

Location: Currently not on view

Place Used: LiberiaSierra LeoneGuinea

See more items in: Work and Industry: National Numismatic Collection, West African Currency


Exhibition Location:

Credit Line: The Chase Manhattan Bank

Data Source: National Museum of American History

Id Number: NU.79.112.OC132Accession Number: 1979.1263Catalog Number: 79.112.OC132

Object Name: Kissi Pennyalternative currencyOther Terms: Kissi Penny; Africa; Liberia, Sierra Leone

Physical Description: iron (overall material)black/brown (overall color)wrought, hammered, twisted (overall production method/technique)Measurements: overall: 31.9 cm x 3.505 cm x .46 cm; 12 9/16 in x 1 3/8 in x 3/16 in


Record Id: nmah_1067023

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