Made of copper, brass, and iron, the Portuguese, British and French modeled these metal currency "bracelets" after the heavy copper leg bands, wrist and neck bracelets early Portuguese explorers saw in the 1470's in West Africa. The foreign made "manilla" (manus (hand) in Latin, monilia (necklaces) ), became a hot commodity used for trading in goods, especially for slaves (they weren't made to wear on the wrist). Each local region had different names for each variety and shape of manilla, with the Africans valuing them differently. The price of slaves in exchange for manillas varied greatly depending on the season, location, and type of manilla being offered. Manillas were the first all-purpose type of currency known in West Africa, wildly more valued than cowrie shells, and used for trade or at market buying goods, for bride price, paying diviners, fines, and for burial. With the end of the slave trade, manilla production in Antwerp and Birmingham slowed down, but was still used for palm-oil trade, with the exchange rate manipulated by the native traders to favor. In 1948 the British began a recall named "Operation Manilla", in order to swap them out with the British West African currency equal to 3 Pence for most common manilla, and possibly to halt the manipulation in palm-oil trade. Over 32 million pieces were exchanged for Pence and resold as scrap metal. On April 1, 1949, the manilla ceased to be legal tender in British West Africa; it serves as a historic reminder today of the centuries of slave trade and their role in the purchase of so many who made the Middle Passage to the New World.
These British manilla range over various centuries 1600's to early 1800's. Sizes and ages vary from smaller at approx. 2. 3/8" by 2. 1/4", to 2.1/2" plus by 2" 5/8 inches. Weights from 1.8 ounces to 3.1 ounces vary with some small being just as heavy as large. I randomly pick but you can request large or small, I will choose the best possible for you. Ships Domestic US USPS First Class FREE, Canada and all other countries has shipping charge. Comes in cotton filled gift box.