Kissi Penny

Kissi Penny

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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.
Currently not on view
Object Name
alternative currency
Kissi Penny
Other Terms
Kissi Penny; Africa; Liberia, Sierra Leone
place used
Sierra Leone
Physical Description
iron (overall material)
black/brown (overall color)
wrought, hammered, twisted (overall production method/technique)
overall: 3 in x 18 1/2 in; 7.62 cm x 46.99 cm
ID Number
accession number
catalog number
Credit Line
Benjamin Stack, Harvey G. Stack, and Norman Stack
See more items in
Work and Industry: National Numismatic Collection
West African Currency
Data Source
National Museum of American History
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