Manillas, slave money. Bronze
Manillas was an early type of currency used in southeastern Nigeria, in the Niger River delta.
The earliest documented references are from the 1490s and come from a Portuguese trader named Duarte Pacheco Pereira. Pacheco Pereira made three trips to buy slaves, ivory tusks and pepper. According to his documents a slave cost between 12 and 15 bracelets.
Other mentions of this original piece appear in the logbooks of the Portuguese ship Sao Miguel, which made voyages to Benin in 1522. In June of that year, the commander of the ship bought a 16 year old slave for 50 Manillas, the lot of 17 slaves cost 840 Manillas.
There are several theories about the origins of Manillas. One is that they were made by the Nigerians themselves from the wreckage of the shipwrecks in the Gulf of Benin. Whatever the true story, it is certain that the Manillas soon became the standard currency despite their differences in size and weight, and were used by the major nations that took over from Portugal in the trade of the area (English, French, Dutch and Spanish) to buy ivory, pepper, palm oil and of course, slaves.
Approx. weight: 120 g
Approx. diameter: 85x75mm