1. Introduction

Akan gold weights were cast of brass or bronze and were used by the Akan people of West Africa, in particular for weighing gold dust which was the common currency until replaced by coins in 1896. The weight system in Ghana is in fact based on different weight standards. From 1400 the Islamic ‘mitkal’ and the Islamic ounce were used, from 1500 the Portuguese ounce and from 1600 the English troy ounce. Ghanaian gold weights can be classified in a number of categories such as geometric weights, figurative weights, flora and fauna, military accessories, objects for everyday use and amulets. Interesting are the so called ‘pseudo’ gold weights, among them belt buckles, stones, bones or even European objects such as buttons, coins or pieces of watch movements. Small brass or bronze boxes with a decorated lid were used to store the gold dust which was used for everyday purchses. To this purpose every man of some standing had a set of weights, spoons, and scales, packed together in a leather bag. Payment of goods required a lot of patience as the vendor would almost always argue about the accuracy of the buyer’s weights and scales. Only after lengthy negotiations a deal was truck. This and other interesting information is mentioned in the publication ‘Akan gold weights in the Bern historical museum’ by the Charlottte von Graffenried who describes a large collection of weights in the museum collected by Swiss missionaries at the beginning of the 20th century. The gold weights in our collection were all acquired in Ghana, West Africa, and date from as early as the 15th century.
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  Catapults (5)
  Colons (35)
  Fon bronzes (55)
  Gold weights (30)
  Linguist staffs (7)
  Other bronzes (32)
  Stools (20)
  Trade beads-> (160)
  Z. Miscellaneous (25)
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