Cowrie Shell, Uganda, Africa

Cowrie Shell, Uganda, Africa

Usage conditions apply
Downloads
Description
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.
Object Name
cowrie shell money
alternative currency
Other Terms
Cowry Shell Money; Africa; Uganda
date made
n.d.
place used
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
ID Number
1979.1263.00542
catalog number
1979.1263.00542
accession number
1979.1263
collector/donor number
OC150A
Credit Line
Chase Manhattan Bank
See more items in
Work and Industry: National Numismatic Collection
Exhibition
The Value of Money
Exhibition Location
National Museum of American History
Data Source
National Museum of American History
Nominate this object for photography.   

Our collection database is a work in progress. We may update this record based on further research and review. Learn more about our approach to sharing our collection online.

If you would like to know how you can use content on this page, see the Smithsonian's Terms of Use. If you need to request an image for publication or other use, please visit Rights and Reproductions.

Note: Comment submission is temporarily unavailable while we make improvements to the site. We apologize for the interruption. If you have a question relating to the museum's collections, please first check our Collections FAQ. If you require a personal response, please use our Contact page.