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Manillas were regularly used in exchange in West Africa, especially along the coast of modern-day Nigeria, from at least the fifteenth century to the mid-twentieth century. Cast from various metals, including copper, brass, and iron, they are crescent-shaped and resemble an open bracelet. They were produced by Portuguese, British, Dutch, and French merchants specifically for trade in West Africa. Manillas were used in everyday purchases at markets. They were also a central currency of the transatlantic slave trade.
Currently not on view
Object Name
alternative currency
date made
place used
associated place
Physical Description
brass (overall material)
cast (overall production method/technique)
brown/gold (overall color)
overall: 6.02 cm x 5.72 cm x 1.93 cm; 2 3/8 in x 2 1/4 in x 3/4 in
ID Number
catalog number
accession number
Credit Line
Randolph V. Zander
See more items in
Work and Industry: National Numismatic Collection
West African Currency
Data Source
National Museum of American History
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