The museum is open Fridays through Tuesdays 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Free timed-entry passes are required. Review our latest visitor safety guidelines.

Kissi Penny

Kissi Penny

<< >>
Usage conditions apply
Downloads
Description
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
Object Name
alternative currency
Kissi Penny
place used
Liberia
Sierra Leone
Guinea
Physical Description
metal, iron (overall material)
black/brown (overall color)
wrought, hammered, twisted (overall production method/technique)
Measurements
average spatial: 5.5 cm x 37 cm; 2 5/32 in x 14 9/16 in
ID Number
1991.0009.0008
accession number
276290
catalog number
67.101243
Credit Line
R. H. Spencer
See more items in
Work and Industry: National Numismatic Collection
West African Currency
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.

Comments

Add a comment about this object