Skip to main content
The Shell Money of the Slave Trade
  • Get access
    Check if you have access via personal or institutional login
  • Cited by 32
  • Cited by
    This book has been cited by the following publications. This list is generated based on data provided by CrossRef.

    Maurer, Bill 2018. Handbook of the History of Money and Currency. p. 1.

    Rönnbäck, Klas 2018. The Challenge of Studying Inflation in Precolonial Africa. History in Africa, Vol. 45, Issue. , p. 5.

    Knoll, Eva-Maria 2018. Connectivity in Motion. p. 319.

    Green, Toby 2018. The Challenge of Studying Inflation in Precolonial Africa by Klas Rönnbäck – A Response. History in Africa, Vol. 45, Issue. , p. 19.

    Bah, Essa Jackson, Karen and Potts, David 2018. Regional trade institutions in West Africa: Historical reflections. Journal of International Development, Vol. 30, Issue. 8, p. 1255.

    Christie, A.C. and Haour, A. 2018. The ‘Lost Caravan’ of Ma’den Ijafen Revisited: Re-appraising Its Cargo of Cowries, a Medieval Global Commodity. Journal of African Archaeology,

    Goldberg, Walter M. 2018. The Geography, Nature and History of the Tropical Pacific and its Islands. p. 57.

    Cooper, Julien and Barnard, Hans 2017. New Insights on the Inscription on a Painted Pan-Grave Bucranium, Grave 3252 at Cemetery 3100/3200, Mostagedda (Middle Egypt). African Archaeological Review, Vol. 34, Issue. 3, p. 363.

    Agha, Asif 2017. Money Talk and Conduct from Cowries to Bitcoin. Signs and Society, Vol. 5, Issue. 2, p. 293.

    2016. Moral Economies of Corruption. p. 257.

    Stahl, Ann B. 2015. 5 Metalworking and Ritualization: Negotiating Change through Improvisational Practice in Banda, Ghana. Archeological Papers of the American Anthropological Association, Vol. 26, Issue. 1, p. 53.

    Ogundiran, Akinwumi 2014. The Making of an Internal Frontier Settlement: Archaeology and Historical Process in Osun Grove (Nigeria), Seventeenth to Eighteenth Centuries. African Archaeological Review, Vol. 31, Issue. 1, p. 1.

    Rönnbäck, Klas 2014. Climate, conflicts, and variations in prices on pre-colonial West African markets for staple crops. The Economic History Review, Vol. 67, Issue. 4, p. 1065.

    Stahl, Ann B. 2014. Africa in the World: (Re)centering African History through Archaeology. Journal of Anthropological Research, Vol. 70, Issue. 1, p. 5.

    Pijpe, Jeroen de Voogt, Alex van Oven, Mannis Henneman, Peter van der Gaag, Kristiaan J. Kayser, Manfred and de Knijff, Peter 2013. Indian ocean crossroads: Human genetic origin and population structure in the maldives. American Journal of Physical Anthropology, Vol. 151, Issue. 1, p. 58.


    Oriji, John N. 2011. Political Organization in Nigeria since the Late Stone Age. p. 61.

    Horesh, Niv and Kim, Hyun Jin 2011. Why Coins Turned Round the World Over? A Critical Analysis of the Origins and Transmission of Ancient Metallic Money. China Report, Vol. 47, Issue. 4, p. 279.

    Juwayeyi, Yusuf M. 2010. Archaeological excavations at Mankhamba, Malawi: An early settlement site of the Maravi. Azania: Archaeological Research in Africa, Vol. 45, Issue. 2, p. 175.

    Argenti, Nicolas 2010. Things that Don't Come by the Road: Folktales, Fosterage, and Memories of Slavery in the Cameroon Grassfields. Comparative Studies in Society and History, Vol. 52, Issue. 02, p. 224.


Book description

This study examines the role of cowrie-shell money in West African trade, particularly the slave trade. The shells were carried from the Maldives to the Mediterranean by Arab traders for further transport across the Sahara, and to Europe by competing Portuguese, Dutch, English and French traders for onward transport to the West African coast. In Africa they served to purchase the slaves exported to the New World, as well as other less sinister exports. Over a large part of West Africa they became the regular market currency, but were severely devalued by the importation of thousands of tons of the cheaper Zanzibar cowries. Colonial governments disliked cowries because of the inflation and encouraged their replacement by low-value coins. They disappeared almost totally, to re-appear during the depression of the 1930s, and have been found occasionally in the markets of remote frontier districts, avoiding exchange and currency control problems.

Refine List
Actions for selected content:
Select all | Deselect all
  • View selected items
  • Export citations
  • Download PDF (zip)
  • Send to Kindle
  • Send to Dropbox
  • Send to Google Drive
  • Send content to

    To send content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about sending content to .

    To send content items to your Kindle, first ensure is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about sending to your Kindle.

    Note you can select to send to either the or variations. ‘’ emails are free but can only be sent to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

    Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

    Please be advised that item(s) you selected are not available.
    You are about to send

Save Search

You can save your searches here and later view and run them again in "My saved searches".

Please provide a title, maximum of 40 characters.


Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Book summary page views

Total views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between #date#. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed