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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:Computing Domestic Prices in Precolonial West Africa: A Methodological Exercise from the Slave Coast
Author:Law, Robin R.ISNI
Year:1991
Periodical:History in Africa
Volume:18
Pages:239-257
Language:English
Geographic term:Benin
Subjects:currencies
prices
history
1600-1699
1700-1799
1800-1899
History and Exploration
Economics and Trade
External link:https://www.jstor.org/stable/3172064
Abstract:One of the most striking features of the operation of the European trade in the West African 'Slave Coast' (roughly, the modern Republic of Benin) was the prominence among the commodities imported of cowry shells, which were used locally as a currency. Assessment of the impact of the European trade requires detailed empirical study of the operation of this cowry currency, and in particular of the question of whether the massive importation of cowries which it involved led to significant depreciation of their local value. Although there is a great deal of contemporary documentation of the prices of various commodities in local markets between the 17th and 19th centuries, this evidence presents considerable problems of interpretation. This paper deals with the problems arising from the variety of forms in which prices are expressed: cowries, European currencies, 'manillas' (brass bracelets), iron bars, and slaves. Notes, ref.
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