African Iron Shovel Currency with Base 29.25″ – Tribal Art

Original price was: $1,000.00.Current price is: $250.00.


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For centuries, many African cultures used metal coils, bracelets and other objects as a form of currency. Pieces like this would have been traded for goods and services. This piece measures 29.25 inches tall, 21.5 inches wide by 2.75 inches long and weighs 24.5 pounds on its base. It has corrosion and oxidation – please inspect photos.

Type of Object


Country of Origin





Copper Alloy

Approximate Age









24.5 lbs on base

Overall Condition

Corrosion and oxidation. Wear and tear.

Additional Information

About Lost-Wax Casting Method

In-direct lost wax casting is the most basic form of metal casting seen in African cultures. Scholars have yet to establish exactly how it was introduced and developed in West African regions, but it is known that it was being used prior to Portuguese explorers’ arrival in the late 1400’s.
To use this method, the artist must begin with a low melting point material that can retain its shape but is soft enough to carve intricate details into, such as beeswax. Once the artist finishes carving the details, layers of clay are applied to the outside and then left to dry. The first layer of clay applied takes on the details, while the additional layers of coarser clay provide strength to the entirety of the mold. Once fired, the wax is then melted, leaving only the baked clay shell. Liquid metal is then poured into the empty clay mold. Once the metal has hardened and cooled, the clay exterior is then broken. This process reveals the finished metal object, which is always unique due to the mold being destroyed during the final process.
Many West African sculptors have altered this method by using multiple castings, which can be used to create hollowed and thin metal figures. One of the ways to achieve the hollowed result is creating the wax sculptures over a formed clay core. Iron spikes are used to attach the solid clay core to the clay layers of the mold. The metal is then poured inside and left to cool and hardened. At the end of the process, the clay core is then broken up and removed and the final brass work is finished. These hollowed pieces can then be united to create larger figures or vessels.

Apley, Alice. (2001, October) African Lost-Wax Casting Essay.


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