Ironworking, indeed metalworking in general, had a magical dimension in old Africa, and iron as itself had value and "virtue" in excess of its utility.  Starting in the 18th century the availability of iron in sub-Saharan Africa increased and it eventually developed into a relatively high end commodity, traded in more or less standard units.  Some of these units are recognizable as simple ingots, others as tools or weapons of a given specific size.  Others are head scratchers, instantly giving rise to the twin questions: "what's that?" and "why did they bother?"

COF1) CONGO, MANGETU-BUSHONGO, 18-19th c., iron trombash knife, 273x160mm, sickle shaped blade, wooden handle, nice VF $195.00
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COF2) CONGO, MANGETU-BUSHONGO, 18-19th c., iron trombash knife, 280x110mm, sickle shaped blade with 2 holes, wooden handle, nice VF $195.00
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COF3) CONGO, MOBENGE-ZANDE, 18-19th c., likonga knife, iron blade with decorated spine, sinuous blades, 4 holes, wooden handle sheathed in brass & wrapped with brass wire, 342x86mm overall, nice, $225.00
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LIBERIA, 18-19th c., iron "kissie penny," an elongated & attentuated "hoe" with a "T" shaped "handle" & flat rudimentary "blade," shaft is twisted, ~250mm (10") $9.00
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234-14. kissie, ~300mm (~13") $16.00
234-15. kissie, ~380mm (~15") $21.00
234-16. kissie, ~410mm (~16") $24.00
234-17. kissie lot, each with 1 end missing, 180-440mm (7-17"), 19 pcs, $29.00

    Standardized iron objects were used as trade objects in western and central Africa from the 18th to the early 20th century, as discussed fairly extensively by Quiggin.  Some of the following are obviously simple ingots, while others pretend to be tools, though by their design or size I have difficulty conceiving of them actually being used.

NIGERIA, Eastern Fulani, 16-19th c., iron bar, ~350-400mm, with expansion in center, like a snake that swallowed a pig.  Called "losol," "sasoreng," "tajere," or "saka." Made by Batta and Mumuye peoples, in servitude to the Fulani, $35.00
Click picture for enlargement.
-5 pcs $110.00

NIGERIA, these named "dubil" and "li."  This simple design used from the 16th century.  Mentioned as a bride price item in the Madagali region.  Average 380mm (15 inches).  Any of these @ $35.00 each sold

NIGERIA, this one from "Dutsi district, Kaduna State" (northeast central Nigeria), according to Eyo. A similar piece pictured in Rivallain was said to come from near the Ubangi River, which forms part of the northwest border of Congo Dem. Rep.  Average length about 3 feet / 1 meter.  Two subtypes:
    A. as pictured with twisted and gouged handle end @ $45.00 sold
    B. slightly shorter, plain handle end @ $41.50 sold

NIGERIA, Gworzo (northeast region), 18-19th c., iron purrpurr, imitation trowel, ~200mm long, $35.00
Click picture for enlargement.

Bob Reis
POB 26303
Raleigh NC 27611
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