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Steel 20 cedis coin showing a cowrie shell


Weight: 5.300 g
Diameter: 24.000 mm

Gift of the Royal Mint

CM 1993-9-7-112

Coins and Medals

    Steel 20 cedis coin showing a cowrie shell

    Ghana, West Africa, AD 1991

    African money shown on a European-style coin

    The cowrie shell shown on this coin recalls a traditional type of money used in Ghana. The cowrie had originally come to Ghana through trade with Arabia in the fourteenth century. The denomination of this modern coin, the cedi, is the Ghanaian word for 'cowrie'.

    In the eighteenth century British and Dutch traders introduced the first European coins into what is now Ghana, but was then known to the British as the Gold Coast. The earliest coins produced specially for the area were introduced in 1796 by the Company of Merchants Trading to Africa. Throughout the nineteenth century European coins circulated alongside traditional forms of currency, cowries and gold dust. In 1901 the Gold Coast became a British colony, and from 1912 until independence in 1957 the coinage of British West Africa was in use.

    The coinage of the independent Republic of Ghana has featured portraits of the country's fomer leader, Kwame Nkrumah (1909-72), traditional artefacts (bush drums), important crops (cocoa beans), and the cowrie.


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