Manillas

During the colonization of Africa in the 1500s, the Portuguese, British, French and Dutch appropriated locally made bracelets throughout Africa used for adornment and currency and manufactured their own versions they named “manillas.” Known also as “slave bracelets,” “slave trade money,” and “bracelet money,” they became the prime African currency to purchase slaves for plantations in the Americas. Brass manilas were transported from Europe to West Africa and exchanged for slaves who were then transported to the Americas and the West Indies where profits were used to purchase American cotton shipped to Europe. The price of a slave in manillas varied according to time, place, and type. Manilla were prohibited for foreign traders under the Manilla Currency Ordinance of 1919 but continued to be used by the West African Currency Board for several decades. In the 1940s and 50’s manillas were collected, confiscated and melted down. Manillas are still worn by Caribbean slave descendants as family treasures to pass to future generations.

Showing all 12 results

  • Antique Fulani Manilla Currency/Slave Bracelet, West Africa (3159XLR) $110

    $110.00
    H: 2.75”  W: 3.125”  Thick: 0.375” Circum. 8.25” | FREE SHIPPING

    This early 19th century Fulani bracelet has its origin in Mali or Niger. As nomadic people, bracelets and anklets such as this were an ideal form of currency that was wearable, easily portable, and available for occasional major purchases. This circular thin C-shaped manilla has a rounded smooth surface inside and out. It is divided visually into six sections with incised crosshatch and linear designs. The copper-colored surface has a fine patina and it is in excellent  condition with signs of use consistent with its age.  It comes with a wood and metal stand.

     

  • Antique Fulani Manilla Currency/Slave Bracelet, West Africa (3150VKE) $185

    $185.00
    H: 2.75”  W: 2.875”  Thick: 0.5” Circum: 8.75” | FREE SHIPPING

    Each African region fabricated its own variety of manillas that were typically horseshoe or C-shaped some like this with plain open ends. This 18-19th century thick solid Fulani metal bracelet has a smooth rounded outer surface enhanced with deeply etched long triangles, parallel horizontal bands, stamped circles, facets and groves to enhance its unique appearance with flat ends. It is a beautiful bracelet in excellent condition and comes with a wood and metal stand.

     

  • Antique Fulani Manilla Currency/Slave Bracelet, West Africa (3155VKM) $195

    $195.00
    H: 2.625”  W: 3”  Thick: 0.25” Circum. 8.25” | FREE SHIPPING

    Each African region fabricated its own variety of manillas that were typically horseshoe or C-shaped. This large fine 18-19th century circular high walled Fulani manilla from Nigeria has a rounded smooth surface inside and out with beautiful etched linear design, circles, swirls, stipples, and V-shapes. It is in excellent condition with a fine aged patina with  some evidence of pitting, scratches, and discolorations consistent with age. It comes with a wood and metal stand.

     

  • Antique Fulani Manilla Currency/Slave Bracelet, West Africa (3165WHM) $295

    $295.00
    Ht: 3.125”  W: 3.5”  Thickness: 1” | FREE SHIPPING!

    The Fulani people favored many kinds of body ornaments, among the most traditional being bracelets and anklets in a horseshoe shape with flared decorative ends.  This finely-crafted, heavy and massive antique U-shaped example was elaborately designed with intertwined twisted strands and 11 faceted ends incised with circle and diamond designs.

  • Antique Fulani Manilla Currency/Slave Trade Bracelet, West Africa (3146GKE)

    $165.00
    H: 2.75”  W: 3”  Thick: 0.5” Circum: 8” | FREE SHIPPING

    Most manillas are typically horseshoe or round shaped and range from thin delicate shapes to heavy massive pieces. This antique rounded Fulani manilla found in Nigeria has a smooth central surface with etched decorative and geometric designs at the ends and also has multi-lined horizontals, rows of stippled verticals, small etched circles with tiny ones inside, alternating side by side triangles and stacked double circles at its apex. It is in very good condition with minor scratches, cracks and bruising on the inside consistent with its extensive age and use. It comes with a wood and metal stand. The measurement is without the stand.

    Click here for Blog Manillas: Former African Trade Currency.

  • Antique Kota Manilla Currency/Slave Bracelet, West Africa (3166YLR) $115

    $115.00
    H: 2.875”  W: 3.25”  Thickness: 1.5” | FREE SHIPPING!

    This antique manilla is made by the Kota in the northeastern region of Gabon and Congo. A thin widecircular bracelet with an elaborate five-section design, each section has unique designs with long striations, grooved crosshatches, long triangles and angled designs. In very good condition with minor losses, pitting and scratches, its rough surface inside is consistent with its age and use and comes with a wood and metal stand.

     

  • Antique Senufo Manilla Currency/Slave Trade Bracelet, West Africa (3143WOE)

    $295.00
    H: 3.125”  W: 4”  Thick: 1.125.5” Circum: 9.5” | FREE SHIPPING

    This very elaborate and exquisite Senufo heavy brass alloy manilla with a high copper content is ornately embellished and divided into three sections, each decorated with deeply carved geometric panels within horizontal bars across its surface. Pairs of raised ball-like metal pieces frame each section, and the openings of the C-shaped bracelet end in flat round discs. This remarkable and elegant manilla is in excellent condition and has a fine patina that shows its age, long use, and wear. It comes with a wood and metal stand. The measurement is without the stand.

     

  • Antique Senufo Manilla Currency/Slave Trade Bracelet, West Africa (3144QAS) $185

    $185.00
    H: 2.75”  W: 3.625”  Thick: 1” Circum. 9.375” | FREE SHIPPING

    Metal bracelets known as manillas were locally made and used as currency and a medium of exchange to trade or barter, pay for significant events and to display status or social position. This antique intricate Senufo copper alloy bracelet is decorated with incised parallel ridges covering its 3-sections which have sets of raised bosses and flattened discs at each end. Very heavy bracelets like this were not worn but were were used to store wealth, make purchases, buy or trade for livestock and goods, or as a bridal dowry or for ceremonial purposes such as weddings and burials. In excellent condition with a fine patina and the usual signs of age and use, it also has a wood and metal stand.

    Click here for Blog Manillas: Former African Trade Currency.

  • Antique Tuareg King Manilla Currency/Slave Bracelet, North/West Africa, (3161YOE) $325

    $325.00
    Ht: 4″  W: 4.6525″  Thick: 1.5″ Circum: 10.5″  |  FREE SHIPPING!

    This 19th century Tuareg “king” manilla bracelet/anklet made from brass, copper and iron in the shape of horseshoe is a magnificent example of African metalwork composed of massive flat finials with 10 facets. Adorned with traditional raised finely detailed etched and hammered cross-hatched designs, diamond shapes, triangles and circles, this fine piece is excellent condition with appropriate signs of age and use and comes with a wood and metal stand.

     

     

  • Antique Tuareg Manilla Currency/Slave Bracelet, North/ West Africa (3149TKM) $275

    $275.00
    H: 3.375”  W: 3.25”  Thick: 1.25” Circum: 5.75” | FREE SHIPPING

    Tuareg wrist and ankle manillas made from sand moulds were usually shaped in a large C. Recognized for their unique etched designs, symbols, motifs and faceted knob ends, each is a one-of-a kind creation. This  bracelet has massive finials with 12 facets containing detailed hand-etched and hammered designs including raised circles. It is in excellent condition with appropriate signs of age and use and comes with a wood and metal stand.

     

    Sources

    Helen E. Hagan and Lucile Meyers, Tuareg Jewelry: Traditional Patterns and Symbols, Xlibrus Corporation, 2006.

  • Antique Tuareg Manilla Currency/Slave Bracelet, North/West Africa (3156JCE) $195

    $195.00
    H: 3.5”  W: 3.625”  Thick: 0.50” Circum. 10.125” | FREE SHIPPING

    This finely fashioned antique Tuareg manilla bracelet/anklet from Mali or Niger was fashioned using a sand mould to create a slim circular-shaped bracelet with hoof-shaped terminals, hand incised line decorations, and applied faceted rounded beads at the open ends. It is decorated with v-shaped incised striations that continue through the ends with 13 facet ends.  Manillas were important currency for nomadic populations since they were easily portable. It is in excellent condition with a fine patina, some signs of age, and wear and comes with a wood and metal stand.

  • SOLD Antique Yoruba Manilla Currency/Slave Bracelet, West Africa

    $110.00
    SOLD

    Manillas were commonly used by the Yoruba in the Coastal regions of Nigeria and along the Niger River. This thin simple round C-shaped manilla is decorated with incised linear designs on the outer round surface: it is centered on the top with parallel zig zag lines between a set of four parallel indentations which frame it. Each end also has zig zag indented striations.  Simple, yet elegant, the bracelet is in very good condition, with normal wear, and pitting that verify its age and use. It comes with a wood metal stand.

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