Japanese coin Ko-Kanei Tsuho
Iron Value 4 Mon 11 Nami waves, 1866 AD.~
Authenticity guaranteed for all items!
Reference: Hartill 25.54
Weight: 5 grams; Size: 28.5 mm; Material: Iron
This is the second type of 4 mon coin made. It has 11 waves on the back and was first minted in 1769. Within the broader catagory of 1769 Meiwa coin, this coin is of the "fuei" type, which means that the bottom "ei" character is large and crouching. One way to easily identify this type is the the nub at the top roof of the left "hou" character protrudes a little down through the lid of that character. This is the most common type of Meiwa era coin. This coin was one of a number of 4 mon coins kindly given to me by a good friend in Kochi, Japan.
Iron or Copper Alloy
All old Kan'ei coins made for circulation are made of copper alloy. New Kan'ei coins are mostly made of copper alloy as well. However, in the early 1700's copper mines began running out in Japan and copper became more scarce. It gradually became more expensive to manufacture copper coins than they were worth. One of the responses to this problem included making coins of iron which was cheaper. The government first authorized the manufacture of iron coins in 1739. Copper alloy coins continued to be manufactured but frequently of less weight and lower quality than those of the late 17th century. Eventually copper alloy coins were mainly minted in higher denominations of 4 mon (from 1768) or 100 mon (from 1835).
The best that can be said for the iron coins is that they have a primitive beauty. Iron is difficult to cast with the fine features of coins and script. The surfaces of the coins are rough. The characters are often unclear in appearance and the inner and outer coin edges are often unfilled and jagged. Furthermore, the iron coins rust easily. From 1866, just about the time of the collapse of the feudal order and during a time of civil war and high inflation, iron coins of 4 mon denomination were manufactured.
Travel back in time to storied feudal Japan - to the land of samurai, daimyo (warlords) and shoguns! This much-mythologized period has been widely celebrated in the popular media and arts. From NBC's Heroes to the novel and miniseries Sh¨gun to the Tom Cruise big-screen epic The Last Samurai, feudal Japan has captured our collective imagination for decades. The original kanei tsuho coins were made at the Edo mint, which was most likely inside Edo Castle proper, the main stronghold of the shogunate in Tokyo.
The mon was the main unit of currency in Japan until 1870, when it was replaced by the yen. It resembles and was derived from the Chinese wenor cash coin. The coins have a square hole in the middle, which allowed them to be produced using less metal than a solid coin, but which more importantly allowed them to be strung together on a piece of string, for easy transport and payment.
The "bun" mint mark is the kanji character on the reverse of the coin. It indicates that this coin was cast in Edo (modern-day Tokyo). The coins are sometimes called bunsen, because of the "bun" character. The term "bun" is the second syllable of the Japanese word kanbun. The Kanbun era is the name for the Japanese era spanning the years 1661 to 1673, during which the coins were made.
Kanei Tsuho coins are named after the era in which they were introduced. Kanei (often written "Kan'ei" is the name of the Japanese era spanning the years 1624 through 1643. Thus the term kanei tsuho literally means "money of the Kan'ei era". Even though the Kan'ei era ended in 1643, the term for the 1 Mon coins remained in use for over two hundred years!
Despite their high grade and attractive appearance, these coins are not reproductions. Each coin is guaranteed to be an original, solid copper 1668-Bun Square Hole 1 Mon, cast in Edo (Tokyo) and grading a very nice very fine. A little bit of verdigris is typical on these coins, but they are much nicer than usually found (when they can be found at all!).
For a more detailed exploration of the Tokugawa Shogunate, as well as the city of Edo and the culture of the Floating World, please see the article further down in this presentation.
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