An extraordinary relic of the African slave trade was among the headline lots from a three-day sale held by Lockdales in Martlesham Heath near Ipswich last month.
Although their exact purpose is unknown, ivory 'payment' bangles
were used to document financial transactions between European slave
traders and their suppliers in coastal Africa - typically local
tribal chiefs who were often given the title 'Duke' by their
Although this bangle is broken and missing two sections, it
records in an engraved calligraphic script, the value of
merchandise purchased by Captain Rob Boyd of Liverpool from Duke
Cullo in (17)65. The human cargo includes a father, four brothers,
a wife, a mate and his family - each listed next to a value - for
which Duke Cullo is due '60 barrs' plus a 'jackett and a good
Given that they appear to have been intended for African
slavers, these are very rare although the International Slavery
Museum, part of the Liverpool Maritime Museum, have two.
According to information supplied to the auctioneers, Lockdales'
bangle had been dug up close to a churchyard in Hayes, Middlesex in
1996. The vendor had acquired it within the last couple of
Oliver Miller guessed it would bring £1000-1500 at the sale on
June 18-20 but there was not a lot to go on. In fact it sold to a
buyer in New York at £2900.
The buyer's premium was 17.5%.