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Home ▸ Catalog ▸ Asian Coins ▸ JapanView Options:  |  |  | 

Coins of Japan

Japan, Kanei Tsuho, Edo Period, 1603 - 1868

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In 1636, the Tokugawa shogunate introduced Kanei Tsuho coins to standardize copper coins and maintain a sufficient coin supply. These coins, the first government minted copper coins in 700 years, became the daily currency used for small payments. Although the Kanei era ended in 1643, coins continued to bear the Kanei Tsuho legend for 230 years. By the 1650s, 16 private mints were opened across Japan. The shogunate outsourced the mintage to regional and local merchants who cast them at varying weights and sizes, as well as occasionally having local mint marks. Kanei Tsuho produced before 1668, referred to as "old Kanei" coins, are recognizable by their consistent calligraphic style. Kanei Tsuho coins produced after 1668, "new Kanei" coins, have more diverse calligraphic styles. From 1738 government authorized iron Kanei Tsuho 1 mon coins, and in 1866 iron 4 mon Kanei Tsuho were authorized.
JA86752. Copper 1 mon, New Kanei, Fu Kyu Te (Fukyu Script), Ko Kan (tall kan); Jones Kanei 61, Hartill EJC 4.126a, Ogawa 99, Jones Japan 218, VF, brown tone, porosity, weight 3.068 g, maximum diameter 24.1 mm, Musashi Province, Fukagawa, Jumantsubo mint, 1726; obverse kan ei tsu ho; Kei-ei, Fukyu script, tall kan, drooping ei with distinct hook on right arm, closed head on tsu, claw at bottom left of ho; reverse plain; $10.00 (8.50)


Japan, Nagasaki Trade Coins, 1659 - 1685, For Trade with Vietnam

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From 1641, under the Sakoku isolationist policy, Nagasaki was the only Japanese port open to trade with Vietnam. Japan traded silver and copper for raw silk, sugar spices and sandalwood. Nagasaki Trade Coins were cast from 1659 to 1685. By law, they could not bear the officially issued Kanei Tsuho inscription. The inscription on this type copies Chinese Northern Song Dynasty cash coins, inscribed Yuan Feng Tong Bao, issued 960 - 1122. The clerical script style on these imitatives is quite different from the Song coins. A string of these trade coins was worth 1 liang of silver in Japan but 10.5 liang of silver in Vietnam! Copies of this type were also cast in Vietnam; their style is even further removed from their Song prototypes.
JA20693. Bronze cash, Hartill EJC 3.170 ff. (copies Northern Song, Yuan Feng Ton Bao, Hartill 16.234), aVF, small azurite deposits, reverse double cast, weight 3.481 g, maximum diameter 23.6 mm, Nagasaki mint, early issue, 1659 - 1667; obverse Gen Ho Tsu Ho (Vietnamese: Nguyen Phong Thong Bao), li (clerical) script, clockwise, two dot Tsu; reverse plain, double cast; $9.00 (7.65)


Japan, Nagasaki Trade Coins, 1659 - 1685, For Trade with Vietnam

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From 1641, under the Sakoku isolationist policy, Nagasaki was the only Japanese port open to trade with Vietnam. Japan traded silver and copper for raw silk, sugar spices and sandalwood. Nagasaki Trade Coins were cast from 1659 to 1685. By law, they could not bear the officially issued Kanei Tsuho inscription. The inscription on this type copies Chinese Northern Song Dynasty cash coins, inscribed Yuan Feng Tong Bao, issued 960 - 1122. The clerical script style on these imitatives is quite different from the Song coins. A string of these trade coins was worth 1 liang of silver in Japan but 10.5 liang of silver in Vietnam! Copies of this type were also cast in Vietnam; their style is even further removed from their Song prototypes.
JA20707. Bronze cash, Hartill EJC 3.174 (copies Northern Song, Yuan Feng Ton Bao, Hartill 16.234), aVF, highlighting earthen deposits, weight 3.107 g, maximum diameter 23.9 mm, Nagasaki mint, 1668 - 1685; obverse Gen Ho Tsu Ho (Vietnamese: Nguyen Phong Thong Bao), li (clerical) script, clockwise, two dot Tsu, small characters; reverse plain; $9.00 (7.65)


Japan, Shin Kanei Tsuho, Edo Period, 1603 - 1868

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The very first four mon coins, issued in 1768, had 21 waves on the reverse. Later four mon coins, all with 11 waves on the reverse, can be dated by the type and color of the metal. Meiwa-sen, brassy alloy (68% copper, 24% zinc, and 8% tin), was used for the first 11 wave issue, 1769 - 1788. Bunsei-sen, reddish alloy (75% copper, 15% zinc, and 10% lead), was used for the second issue, 1821 - 1825. Ansei-sen, dark alloy (65% copper, 15% zinc, and 20% lead), was used for the third issue, 1857 - 1859. After 1866, all four mon coins were cast in iron.
JA87037. Brass 4 mon, New Kanei, Meiwa-sen (brassy alloy); Hartill EJC 4.252 or 4.253; Ogawa 329 or 332; Krause C 4.2, weight c. 4.88 g, maximum diameter c. 28 mm, die axis 0o, Musashi Province, Edo, Fukagawa mint, 1769 - 1788; obverse kan ei tsu ho (universal treasure of Kwan Ei); reverse 11 waves; VF or better, quality and patina may vary, minor bumps and scratches, similar to the coins in the photograph, ONE COIN; $8.00 (6.80)


Japan, Kanei Tsuho, Edo Period, 1603 - 1868

Click for a larger photo
In 1636, the Tokugawa shogunate introduced Kanei Tsuho coins to standardize copper coins and maintain a sufficient coin supply. These coins, the first government minted copper coins in 700 years, became the daily currency used for small payments. Although the Kanei era ended in 1643, coins continued to bear the Kanei Tsuho legend for 230 years. By the 1650s, 16 private mints were opened across Japan. The shogunate outsourced the mintage to regional and local merchants who cast them at varying weights and sizes, as well as occasionally having local mint marks. Kanei Tsuho produced before 1668, referred to as "old Kanei" coins, are recognizable by their consistent calligraphic style. Kanei Tsuho coins produced after 1668, "new Kanei" coins, have more diverse calligraphic styles. From 1738 government authorized iron Kanei Tsuho 1 mon coins, and in 1866 iron 4 mon Kanei Tsuho were authorized.
JA87039. Copper 1 mon, Hartill EJC 4.1 - 4.219; Krause KM5 (1606), weight c. 2.8 g, maximum diameter c. 23 mm, c. 1636 - 1868; obverse kan ei tsu ho (universal treasure of Kwan Ei); reverse plain; many varieties in the lot, near VF or better, quality and patina varies, some with minor flaws, bumps, scratches, encrustations, similar to the coins in the photograph, ONE COIN; $4.00 (3.40)







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REFERENCES

Hartill, D. Early Japanese Coins. (Bedfordshire, UK, 2011).
Jacobs, N. & C. Vermeule. Japanese Coinage. (New York, 1972).
Jones, R. Attribution Guide to Shin Kan Ei Tsu Ho. (Kearney, NE, 1984).
Jones, R. History and Guide to the Copper Cash Coinage of Japan. (Kearney, NE, 2007).
Krause, C. & C. Mishler. Standard Catalog of World Coins. (Iola, WI, 2010 - ).
Kudo, Y. Shin Kanei Tsuho Zue. (Sapporo, 1998).
Masuo, T. Honpo Bita Sen Zufu. (Illustrated Catalogue of Our Country's Bita Sen) (Tokyo, 1982).
Masuo, T. Ko Kanei Sen Shi. (Old Kanei Coin Encyclopedia) (Tokyo, 1971).
Mitchiner, M. Oriental Coins and Their Values, Vol. 2: the Ancient and Classical World. (London, 1978).
Mitchiner, M. Oriental Coins and Their Values, Vol. 3: Non-Islamic States & Western Colonies. (London, 1979).
Masuo, T. Honpo Bita Sen Zufu. (Illustrated Catalog of Our Country's Bita Sen). (Tokyo, 1982).
Masuo, T. Ko Kanei Sen Shi. (Tokyo, 1971).
Munro, N. Coins of Japan. (Yokohama, 1904).
Ogawa, Y. Shin Kanei Tsuho, The Catalog of Japanese Coins. (Japan, 1987).
Sakuraki, S, H. Wang, & P. Kornicki. Catalogue of the Japanese Coin Collection (Pre-Meiji) in the British Museum. (London, 2010).

Catalog current as of Wednesday, September 19, 2018.
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