A pair of shackles of the sort used during the cruel "Middle Passage" from Africa to the Americas. Images of such shackles appear in numerous early anti-slavery books and tracts. For specific examples, see: "An Abstract of the Evidence," London 1791; Lydia Maria Child's "Appeal in Behalf of that Class of Americans called Africans," Boston, 1833; and Lorenzo Dow, "Slave Ships and Slaving," Massachusetts, 1927.Personally, I am surprised they are not selling an actual African shackled to the leg irons, which might attest to its authenticity.
I have seen slave shackles in museum exhibitions and always felt that their display is in active denial of their horrendous history. This SWANN auction and its request for bids to this gruesome item goes beyond the pale. But then, general lack of accountability for the enslavement of Africans is at the bottom of the racism and capriciousness of global relations between the West and the Rest of the World that is so evident on the international scene today. If you enslave tens of millions of Africans and kill millions of them in the process and no one holds you accountable, then obviously no one bats an eyelid when you incarcerate millions in for profit prisons or imprison them in inner-city ghettos in which they are condemned to a life of endless want. Against that larger framework of injustice, I suppose SWANN's auctioning of slave shackles might be considered a minor insult to Africans worldwide. They are obviously not concerned about that; they are concerned only with profiting yet again from the history of slavery, which enables a perpetual marketing of its gruesome memory. That they can do this without fear of retribution or censure speaks volumes to the disregard for Africans that persists in international relations.