Boxed Polished Brass Manillas – Slave Tokens
When the Portuguese arrived in Benin, Nigeria, in the fifteenth century, they quickly started trading brass and copper for pepper, cloth, ivory and slaves.
The number of manillas in circulation increased dramatically from the sixteenth century when they became one of the standard trade currencies
The ship Douro built 1838 in Sunderland was wrecked in fog on Western rocks Round Rock, Isles of Scilly on 28,1,1843.
Her cargo was described as ‘armoury and brass stops. The wreck site was located around 1972.
It revealed many thousands of Brass ‘Manillas’. These were otherwise known as Slave Tokens. This has lead to some speculation that the Douro was in fact a slave trader ship bound for South Africa.
Most West Indians refer to them as ‘bangles’ however, historically they are known as manillas. Once a form of currency for West African peoples, manillas would become one of the main currencies of choice during the slave trade to the Americas. Their usage during this time in history was of such prevalence that they were often referred to as “slave trade money.”
Manilla : 6cm widest
Box : 8 x 7cm