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ca. 1600-1880 AFRICAN BRONZE MONEY BRACELETS OR “MANILLAS” – INTERESTING PIECES TO DISPLAY WITH BRITISH COLONIAL ARMS:  A little far different from the usual militaria related offerings, but these unusual pieces would be an interesting addition to display with a collection of 19th Century British Colonial arms such as a Snider or Henry-Martini Rifle.  These are antique (ca. 1600-1880’s) African bronze currency or money bracelets, also known commonly as “manillas”.  Quite old, these heavy cast bracelets were first made in varying sizes by the indigenous cultures on the African continent, and later produced in several European countries and used by their trading concerns in exchange for ivory, slaves and even gold. 

These bracelets were a means of storing and displaying the wealth of the wearer before the Europeans’ arrival in Africa and they continued in common use up through the end of the 19th Century as a currency or a medium for barter and trade. 

After the Europeans established their trading operations in Africa, a series of advancements of the British brass industry in the late 1600’s gradually gave them the edge in the Africa brass trade during the next century. The term "Birmingham manilla" is applied to the type of bracelet offered here - a crescent-shaped brass piece with flared ends, weighing under 300 grams, but more commonly seen in even smaller piece weighing under 90 grams. 

As shown in the photographs below, the larger of the two with the green patina weighs just over 3 ounces (87.7 grams) and the other weighs 2.7 ounces (76.5 grams), both measuring just over 2 ¼” across. 

As noted above, included in a display of arms focused on any of the 19th Century British Colonial conflicts such as the Zulu or Boer Wars, these manillas would add the dimension of the sort of native pieces the private soldier would seek out as souvenirs of his service across the Empire.  $50 each


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