Trade Bead, West Africa


Beads have served as a medium of exchange around the globe. Many different types of beads have been used in transactions on the continent of Africa including those made from glass, coral, shell, and stone. Aggrey beads are a type of bead that was used for jewelry as well as trade in West Africa, especially modern day Ghana and Nigeria. They are often blue in color and cylindrical in shape. Due to limited information about the origins of the beads in the National Numismatic Collection it is not possible to determine if this specific object was used as a medium of exchange, worn as jewelry, or produced as a replica.

Date Made: n.d.

Location: Currently not on view

Place Made: Africa

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.OC197BAccession Number: 1979.1263Catalog Number: 79.112.OC197B

Object Name: Trade Beadalternative currencyOther Terms: Trade Bead; Africa; Western

Physical Description: mineral aggregate, glass (overall material)red (overall color)blue (overall color)black (overall color)white (overall color)yellow (overall color)green (overall color)holed, painted, and fired (overall production method/technique)Measurements: average spatial: 16.3 mm x 17.7 mm; 5/8 in x 11/16 inoverall: 17.9 mm; 23/32 in


Record Id: nmah_1068966

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