|"The Arab Scribe" by J.F. Lewis, 1852|
|"The Bath" by J.L. Gerome, in the Legion of Honor, San Francisco|
|"Odalisque" by Max Nonnenbruch|
|"By order of the sultan" by Antonio Fabres|
|"Idle Moments" by Frederick Arthur Bridgman, 1875|
Along the West coast of Africa and further inland brass "manillas" or slave-currency were exchanged by Westerners for slaves as part of the Transatlantic trade to the Americas. Early European explorers found Africans trading and wearing solid metal bracelets and anklets, and began mass producing them in factories specifically for the slave trade in the 17th and 18th centuries. Over time the manillas became standard-weight pieces of metal rather than wearable jewellery. Even when the slave trade was banned and fleets like the Royal Navy deployed West Africa Squadrons to stop slaving ships and hang their captains, smuggling continued.
My two brass manillas in this photographs were made in England and loaded on to the trading ship Douro in 1843 as it set sail from Liverpool to Africa, before being shipwrecked off the Isles of Scilly and recovered by divers this century. The Douro was probably engaged in the legal palm oil trade, although the palm plantations in Africa themselves were worked with slaves who would have been bought from the interior with trade goods like manillas.
Used in my Brass anklets for slave and wives blog post. The coin is a British penny, about the same size as a US penny or a Euro 2 cent piece.
Last modified 27 Apr 13, 4:07 PM by Tanos