Primitive Money

Coins, Banknotes
& Tokens

Primitive Money

Prior to coins and paper, a number of cultures used other items for exchange.  Here are a number of genuine and scarce pieces of “primitive” money available at reasonable prices.

Katanga Cross, Congo - $75

Also called handa, a Katanga Cross is a large cast copper piece, weighing about 2 pounds and 7 to 8 inches long. It was used in the Congo as a form of currency from the 19th century to the early 20th century. It is also depicted on the coins from Katanga, which had a brief stint of independence in 1961.

Cameroon Spade Hoe - $50

This is more obscure form of money, an non-functional iron “spade” from Cameroon.  This is a substantial piece, ranging from 10 to 12 inches in length.  Little is known about these pieces, but it is clearly a non-functional exchange item.  It is a little rusty, but in great condition.



West African Manilla, British Style

Manillas are copper or bronze bracelet-shaped pieces used as money in West Africa (Guinea, Gold Coast, etc.).  Used for centuries in this region, the British and French picked up on this medium of exchange to trade for slaves.  This bronze piece is of later British origins, probably from the 18th to early 19th centuries, at the tail end of the slave trade.

Early Period
$25 each

Middle Period
$17.50 each

Late Period
$15 each

West African Manilla, French Style - $20


This is another type of manilla, contemporaneous with the piece above, but made by the French, which is distinguished the lack of flared ends.


Kissie Pennies - $10 each

This is another form of money used in West Africa (Guinea, Sierra Leone, and Liberia).  These are long strands of iron which is twisted, with a “T” shape produced at one end, and a rounded blade at the other.  They typically range from 8 to 14 inches in length.  They are also believed to contain a soul, and if it was broken, the piece could be repaired by a shaman, which would restore the soul back to the kissie.  They ceased as a form of money in the late 1930s, but are still used in rituals today.