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West Africa, Abo Bead (Bead of Bauxite)

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West Africa, Abo Bead (Bead of Bauxite) (obverse) West Africa, Abo Bead (Bead of Bauxite) (reverse)

Beads from bauxite were cut since the 14th century in West Africa. Bauxite is an aluminum ore with a warm reddish color, coming from traces of iron. Bauxite beads were cut, carved, polished, drilled and strung together. Women would wear them in girdles or as necklaces. Strings of bauxite beads were not only used as decoration, but also as means of payment. In the 1940s one string was worth about 1 shilling 6 pence sterling today, that would amount to about 3 pound sterling, or 6 dollars.

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Signet Sunflower Foundation