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Did you know the money Nigerians used before Naira, Kobo and pounds? Here are some of the items used

Nigerians used many forms of money for trade,they were known as pre-coinage currencies, including cowries and manilas before the West African Currency Board was establishment. Trade by barter was also common which was using commodities to exchange for commodity of equal or almost equal value.

From 1912 - 1959 West African Currency Board was responsible for currency issuing in Nigeria, from materials to currency notes.


1. Cowries

Period Used: before 1700

This pre-coinage currency was used for centuries, it served Nigerians as an important form of currency and trade aid. The system used In 1860 was:

40 Cowries = a String

50 Strings = a head

10 heads = a bag.

In 1865, one bag consisting of 20,000 shells was used to exchanged £1 or £2.


2. Manila

Manillas were the money used by Nigerians and Africans up until 1600 - 1700, they were made of bronze or copper. They came in different weight, size and designs.

Material used: Copper bracelets, Pig Iron & Slag.


3. Salt & Barter

Period Used: before 1600 

Nigerians traded by barter using commodity for commodity e.g exchanging rice for beans, while people who didn't have salt in their region gave farm produce in exchange for salt. This was the oldest form of trade.

A salt block money.


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Cowries Naira Nigeria Nigerians West African Currency Board

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