The principal products of brass battery were pans, kettles, basins and bowls, collectively known as Hollowware.  The names of the vessels produced were recorded by Samuel Timmins in 1866, describing the brass industry in Birmingham, but recalling its Bristol origins:

"the articles manufactured are produced by the same processes, as neptunes, guinea pans and kettles, Lisbon pans, &c, viz., that of "battery," or hammering".

Industrial History of Birmingham, 1866


The demand and destination for such items is evident from the following extract from the journal of Thomas Phillip, a member of the Royal Africa Company in the late C17th and captain of the Hannibal, an English slave ship:

                  A Voyage from England to Africa and so forward to Barbados

"Cowries were essential, the smaller the more esteem'd.  The next in demand are brass neptunes or basons, very large, thin and flat.  Certain textiles were also acceptable, but only to a limited extent; near half the cargo value must be cowries and brass basons to set off the other goods".

Thomas Phillips, Whydah, Gold Coast of Africa, 1694 


Writing in his 1754 travel diary, RR Angerstein described the hollowware destined for the Guinea trade:

"The largest dishes that are sent to Guinea are 4 ft in diameter and the smaller, 1 foot, and there are in addition 50 to 60 various sizes in between.  It was said that of this article alone, Guinea uses 80 to 90 tons per year".

RR Angerstein, 1754


The largest dishes to which Angerstein refers were Neptunes, large shallow pans, over 1 m in diameter and around 8 cm deep.  A number of uses have been suggested for the Neptune, including salt crystallization. 

Guinea Kettle

A 'kettle' was a straight sided vessel with an iron or brass handle to enable it to be hung over an open fire.  A Guinea Kettle, as the name implies, was a hollowware kettle manufactured for the Guinea trade. 

Lisbon Pan

A 'pan' was a bowl or basin shaped vessel, having no handle.  Lisbon pans were hollowware manufactured for the Lisbon trade or copied from designs traded out of Lisbon.  Portugal had been engaged in trade with the Gold Coast of Africa since the 15th century, trading brass for gold, ivory, pepper and slaves.  Portugal had no indigenous brass industry; hence bought brass from metal manufacturers in the Low Countries and later from Bristol. 


Fig 2.  Lisbon Pan.  35 cm dia,  10 cm deep.
Fig 1.  Guinea Kettle.  30 cm dia,  19 cm deep.
Fig 3.  Compass Bowl.  24 cm dia,  10 cm deep.
Fig 4.  Manilla, bearing a tag of Harford & B.B. Co, Keynsham
Saltford Brass Mill Project
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Africa Trade


A. A Voyage from England to Africa and so forward to Barbados. Journal of Thomas Phillips. 1694

B. RR Angerstein's Illustrated Travel Diary 1753 - 1755. Industry in England and Wales from a Swedish perspective.

C. The Resources, Products and Industrial History of Birmingham and the Midland Hardware District. Samuel Timmins. 1866

D. Bristol Brass: A History of the Industry. Joan Day. 1973

Analysis of Manillas, Arm-Rings and Ankle-Ring
Anthony Coverdale & Tobias Showronek - 2021
Bristol Brass and Copper Company Tokens
Fig 5.  Bristol Brass & Copper Co. One Penny Trade Token