13-07-18-2101AR01A lockdales auction.jpg
An ivory slave ‘payment’ bangle recording a transaction between Captain Rob Boyd of Liverpool and Duke Cullo in 1765. It sold at Lockdales to a buyer in New York for £2900.

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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 English-speaking customers.

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 hatt'.

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 years.

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%.