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Manufacture of manillas

Tess22

New Member
Hello

Apparently, Birmingham was the main manufacturer of "manilla" slave currency tokens but I can't find out who or where. Period covered 1600 to 1800. Any information?
 

Pedrocut

Master Barmmie
In the recent BBC series, Enslaved with Samuel L Jackson (episode One, A people Stolen), and around 30 mins into the episode, there is a description of the wreck The Douro discovered in 1972. Two to three tons of manillas, made in Birmingham, were brought up to the surface. (Available on IPlayer.)

.
 

mikejee

Super Moderator
Staff member
Below is an extract from "Resources, Products & industrial history of Birmingham and the Midland Hardware District" by Samuel Timmins p 274, which states that early on some Birmingham manufacturers (not named) tried a con on the natives by making "manillas" of iron and coating with copper, which made the customers wary of Birmingham products, but that later a Thomas Horne produced acceptable manillas.

Resources, Products & industrial history of Birmingham and the Midland Hardware district p 274.jpg
Around 1840 he had a brass business in Temple Row and Cliveland St:
Horne Thomas, brass founder, &c. Temple row; and patent hinge manufacturer, Cliveland st (Pigot's 1841 directory)
but earlier he was in partnership with a Mr Rotton

Aris birm Gazette.16.1.1837.jpg

Earlier than this (Wrightsons 1833 directory) he may have been part of Horne , Richards & Co, brassfounders, Belmont Row
 

Pedrocut

Master Barmmie
The Douro was sailing from Liverpool to Porto in 1843 when she was wrecked near the Isles of Scilly. This was 9 years after the Slavery Abolition Act of 1834. The diver from 1972 stated that 2-3 tons of manillas, made in Birmingham, were brought up.

So around 1843 someone in Birmingham was producing the manillas, was it Thomas Horne ?
 

Pedrocut

Master Barmmie
The Company mentioned above, Rotton and Scholefield, was dissolved in 1842 and carried on as Scholefield. I presume this was Joshua Scholefield and Son.

Could we have stumbled on the manufacturer of the manillas from the Douro ? J Scholefield became one of the first two to be elected MP for Birmingham, and his son William became the first Lord Mayor.

“...by 1800 he had established himself as an iron manufacturer, merchant and banker at Birmingham. He subsequently became a director of the National Provincial Bank, the London Joint Stock Bank and the Metropolitan Assurance Company.”
 

Astoness

TRUE BRUMMIE MODERATOR
Staff member
Below is an extract from "Resources, Products & industrial history of Birmingham and the Midland Hardware District" by Samuel Timmins p 274, which states that early on some Birmingham manufacturers (not named) tried a con on the natives by making "manillas" of iron and coating with copper, which made the customers wary of Birmingham products, but that later a Thomas Horne produced acceptable manillas.

View attachment 149478
Around 1840 he had a brass business in Temple Row and Cliveland St:
Horne Thomas, brass founder, &c. Temple row; and patent hinge manufacturer, Cliveland st (Pigot's 1841 directory)
but earlier he was in partnership with a Mr Rotton

View attachment 149479

Earlier than this (Wrightsons 1833 directory) he may have been part of Horne , Richards & Co, brassfounders, Belmont Row
i wonder if this is how rotton row came to be named
 

A Sparks

master brummie
The word manillas on this thread rang a bell with me and then I remembered I had seen one on display earlier this year as part of an exhibition project (quite complicated to explain) to do with British involvement in the slave trade.

The exhibition leaflet states they were brass manillas manufactured in Birmingham 18th century and goes on to say...they were used as one-directional currency, which Europeans would offer as payment but never accept. The Portuguese determined the value of slave life at 12-15 manillas in the early 1500's.
Birmingham was the primary producer of brass manillas in Britain, prior to the city's central role in the Industrial Revolution.
 

mikejee

Super Moderator
Staff member
It should be emphasised that manillas were not just used for slaves, but were a currency used in Africa till the 1940s, when they were bought up and scrapped (well a lot of them)
 

Pedrocut

Master Barmmie
The Birmingham Post article from 1975 is a bit misleading when stating that in 1843 the Douro was a slave ship. It was a ship carrying cargo from Liverpool to Porto, including Birmingham manillas that would be used by the Portuguese. The Birmingham manillas would then be used as currency for the continuing Portuguese slave trade.
 

Pedrocut

Master Barmmie
The word manillas on this thread rang a bell with me and then I remembered I had seen one on display earlier this year as part of an exhibition project (quite complicated to explain) to do with British involvement in the slave trade.

The exhibition leaflet states they were brass manillas manufactured in Birmingham 18th century and goes on to say...they were used as one-directional currency, which Europeans would offer as payment but never accept. The Portuguese determined the value of slave life at 12-15 manillas in the early 1500's.
Birmingham was the primary producer of brass manillas in Britain, prior to the city's central role in the Industrial Revolution.
“With inflation a female slave aged 16 in Benin cost between about 50 manillas in 1522. Indeed, smaller pattern Popo Manillas, which were too small to wear as bracelets, were manufactured in Birmingham solely for the slave trade...”

.
 

Pedrocut

Master Barmmie
The Douro was wrecked in January 1843 when sailing from Liverpool to Porto. There are mentions of the Douro on at least four occasions from May to December in 1842, each time travelling between Liverpool and Porto. This suggests that the manillas were manufactured for export to Portugal.

Historic England says this...

“A question mark hangs over the wreck of the Douro, a Liverpool ship that in 1843 was wrecked and sunk beneath the seas at Round Rock, Isles of Scilly. This was 36 years after British ships were banned from the slave trade. Reputed to be heading to Portugal when it went down, the ship had a cargo of textiles and munitions. Divers have since found large numbers of manillas - bronze bracelet-shaped trading tokens on the wreck. These were used as currency to trade for slaves in West Africa.

The manillas found in the Douro wreck suggest that the ship might have been involved in illegal slaving, or it was carrying supplies for the banned trade.”

 

Pedrocut

Master Barmmie
Manillas undeclared...

Douro

“Registered in Liverpool, the Douro was travelling to Portugal with a declared cargo of textiles and munitions, but was wrecked on the Western Rocks on the Isles of Scilly on 28th January 1843. Divers in the 20th Century later discovered that the Douro had an undeclared cargo of brass manillas, a currency widely used in the slave trade on the West African Coast. This was a significant discovery because the slave trade had been abolished by the British government in 1807, followed by the abolition of slavery itself within the British Empire in 1833. With a wreck date of 1843 and having not declared the manillas as part of its cargo, the Douro was almost certainly participating in the illegal trading of slaves....”
 

mw0njm.

A Brummie Dude
Manillas undeclared...

Douro

“Registered in Liverpool, the Douro was travelling to Portugal with a declared cargo of textiles and munitions, but was wrecked on the Western Rocks on the Isles of Scilly on 28th January 1843. Divers in the 20th Century later discovered that the Douro had an undeclared cargo of brass manillas, a currency widely used in the slave trade on the West African Coast. This was a significant discovery because the slave trade had been abolished by the British government in 1807, followed by the abolition of slavery itself within the British Empire in 1833. With a wreck date of 1843 and having not declared the manillas as part of its cargo, the Douro was almost certainly participating in the illegal trading of slaves....”
terrible
Slaves were
punished by whipping, shackling, beating, mutilation, branding, and/or imprisonment. Punishment was most often meted out in response to disobedience or perceived infractions, but masters or overseers sometimes abused slaves to assert dominance.
 
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