A friend came over the other night with one of these, a kolgolagi (sp?), or what he called “old Liberian money”. It’s a hand-wrought iron ingot, rather sharp and kind of rusty. Quote of the night was, “My great-grandfather paid 20 of these for my great-grandmother.” Then he busted out a L$20 bill and showed us that the image of this ancient currency is printed right on the modern Liberian money. “You could get a lot of food for one of these in the old days.”
Any numismatics experts out there with any knowledge of this thing?
Update: I just found out from a coin collectors' forum that these things are pretty common, known as Kissi pennies, after the Kissi people:
Primitive Currency used in Sierra Leone, Liberia and French Guinea. Popularly referred to as the Kissi Penny but also known as Kilindi and Gitzi penny. The legend that breaking the elongated money item allows the sole to escape has also given it the name of 'Coin with a Soul'. The shape and sharp ends allowed for easy transport attached to the hair on the head.
More info here.