Modern history


Selected Prices of Slaves 1440-1870

THESE PRICES ARE mere indications. In general, prices rose slowly throughout the period of the trade but, at the end of the eighteenth century, the price of slaves in Africa was rather too close to that in the Americas for the comfort of the slave traders. In the nineteenth century, prices rose in the Americas (Cuba, Brazil) and fell in Africa, so some great fortunes were made.

1440s: in Senegambia, one horse for 25 or 30 slaves

1500:12 to 15 manillas on the coast of Guinea

1500-1510: average price in Seville, 20 ducats

1500-1510: in Senegambia, 8, 7, or 6 slaves exchanged for a horse, or 20 to 25 manillas in Benin

1504: Lisbon price 5,300 réis (hereinafter rs.)

1550: 80-90 ducats

1552: Lisbon price as high as 50,000 rs.

1556: in America, 100 ducados fixed by cédula in Caribbean, 110 on northern coast of South America and most of Central America, 120 in New Spain and Nicaragua, 140 in New Granada, 150 in Peru and the river Plate, and 180 in Chile

1593: average price 20,000-30,000 rs.

1594-95: price reaches average of 75-80 pesos per Angolan slave

1595: average for ladino slave in Lima is 727 pesos, because of extra transport costs

1612: in Brazil, prime slaves from Angola sold at 28,000 reals each

1615: a male slave with much sugar experience is sold in Mexico for 800 pesos

1620: 270-315 pesos for a Guinea slave, 200 for an Angolan

1650 or so: one slave valued at 10 cabess (40,000 cowries)

1654: Dutch charging 2,000 pounds of sugar per slave

1657: in Brazil, a pieza sold at 22,000 reals, various others at lower prices, down to 12,000

1657: Spaniards offering the Dutch to pay 200 reals (pieces of eight) per slave plus heavy taxes—113 pieces of eight

1698: in Madagascar, slaves can be bought for 10 shillings in English goods; in Guinea, price rising from £3 to £4 Late 17th century: prices in Lima never below 600 pesos de plata

1700: Grazilier on the Albion buys 2,900 slaves at 24 and 26 bars a man, but a year later the price falls to 12 bars a man and 9 for a woman at Calabar

1700: £44 for a man, £23 for a boy, £16 for a girl in Barbados

1700-1704: slaves imported into Barbados vary between £23 and £16 a head

1700-1750: slave prices in Virginia £28-£35

1702: André Brüe reported that one might buy slaves from natives south of Gambia River for 10-15 bars a head, and from the Portuguese for 30

1750: cost of slave is 500 livres in Africa

1750-1800: slave prices in Virginia perhaps averaged £40

1750s: £12.80 at mouth of the Gambia

1753: Gold Coast slaves cost £16 each, Windward Coast ones £12-£14; in the West Indies, the cost was £35

1800: in Cuba, slaves at $90, according to Humboldt

1801-10: price per slave in Senegambia is £29.28

1802: prices at Buenos Aires, 300 pesos if slave came direct

1807: slaves from Costa da Mina sell at Bahia at $100 each, as opposed to $80 for the less favored slaves from Angola

1810: new slaves in Brazil each $150 to $200

1811-15: “the price of a good slave” in Bahia is 150,000 reis (£45 sterling), according to the British consul in Bahia, Lindemann, who also estimated slaves cost £130-£150 sterling in Chile

1848: slaves in Brazil selling at 400 m or £45-£50

1850: slaves at $360 in the U.S.

1850s: Saint-Louis, Sénégal, prices at £28

1851: prices of slaves in Mozambique about $3-$5; in Pongas, about $12; in Luanda about $14-$16

1852: slaves in Cuba at £75

1859: Cuban slaves at $700, old slaves and young ones at $300; slaves sold in the U.S. after the Wanderer affair at $1,151 for a girl of ten, $1,705 for a girl with a child, and $500 for an old man

1860: slaves at $500 in the U.S.

1864: slaves in Cuba at $1,250-$1,500

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