Started working on a blog recently. It may occasionally have articles of interest to the forum. I have written one recently on different forms of hard money in Ghanaian history (some speculation at the end).
Very interesting blog which kept me intrigued until the ending. Well done, extensive research is evident. Sounds like you have spent time in-country? One reco... the article reads long, and though compelling enough to inspire the determined reader to plow through to the end, might discourage others. You probably have enough material here to break into at least three smaller items without damaging their integrity. Good work, keep it up. The writing is top rate!
This article gives stimulus to a couple of thoughts:
1. Cowrie shells must have been very plentiful 2. Who were the early entrepreneurs (divers? waders?) who harvested them and then sold the populace on the idea of using them as money? 3. Did the wealthy people of that time have huge roomfuls of cowries stockpiled? and most importantly... 4. I have 32,000 cowrie shells. Wanna sell me an ounce of gold?
I didn't go into detail about the cowries, but they were apparently particular cowries only available from the Indian Ocean, so they were probably some sort of trade good. They didn't use local shells--that would have been too easy. But it occurs to me that the distant cowries might have been selected for the purposes of control--the trade may have been dominated by a few select individuals who kept out others. So maybe it had a few things in common with our fiat currency system.