Hartill 25.54 Japanese Cash coin Ko-Kanei Tsuho Value 4 Mon 21 Nami waves 1768 AD
Japanese coin Ko-Kanei Tsuho
Value 4 Mon 21 Nami waves, 1768 AD.~
Reference: Hartill 25.54
This is the second type of 4 mon coin made. It has 21 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.
4 mon Kan'ei Wave coins
The Tokugawa government first commissioned in 1768 a Kan'ei Tsuuhou coin valued at 4 mon. The first version was made at the Fukagawa mint in Edo and had a design of 21 waves on the back of the coin (see image above). In 1769 the design of the reverse changed to have only 11 waves and all subsequent versions used the 11 wave design. It was not much larger than a 1 mon coin (27-28 mm vs 25-26 mm) and so it was cost effective to produce. This was desirable in a time when there was a growing scarcity of copper. Because the economy itself was usually growing in this period the coins were readily accepted by users. The government ordered a new batch of this same coin made in the period 1821-1825. These are largely identical but the quality is much moer varied, which is to say that many of the 4 mon from this era are of poor manufacture. The metal content of these also tend to be more on the reddish side than the earlier coins which have a higher admixture of other metals than copper. Because these coins were manufactured in the Bunsei period (1818-1829) They are called Bunsei coins by collectors, in contrast to the earlier ones which are called Meiwa coins (from the Meiwa era 1764-1771). The Bunsei coins are as common as the Meiwa coins. One more period of minting was in the Ansei era (1854-1859). There is variation but they tend to be on the yellowish brassy side and the file used to smooth the face is very rough, leaving clear file marks on the face. In 1860, under grave financial difficulties the Tokugawa government began minting the coin in iron but this was relatively unsuccessful and the coins are moderately uncommon.
Because the 4 mon coin was relatively profitable to make there are many counterfeits produced by private mints, and/or clandestine daimyo mints.
From around the year 1866 many domains also officially received permission to mint 4 mon coins to help with their own finances. these were all made of iron and many of them have special markings on the back, usually a character identifying the name of the mint.
Although the Tokugawa overlords gave some domains permission to produce iron Kan'ei coins from 1866, The Tokugawa itself started producing a 4 mon coin with a new legend in 1863. This is the Bunkyuu eihou. Bunkyuu refers to the Bunkyuu era which lasted from 1861-1863. Eihou means something like eternal cash or eternally circulating cash. To Tokugawa government however collapsed a mere 5 years after minting the coin and its hopeful name did not come true. It is interesting that the government chose to use a new and current era name for the coin, rather than sticking with the tradition of the Kan'ei moniker. Perhaps the rulers was hoping that a new era meant a reformation and invigoration of Tokugawa rule, but the new era actually meant collapse.
Most of my information for this page comes from Shizuoka Izumika comp., Anasen Nyuumon Kan'ei Tsuuhou: Shin Kan'ei no bu (Shoshinkan:Tokyo, 1997).
In the explanation box on the left of each coin I occasionally use some Japanese characters. If you cannot set your browser to read Japanese then these will appear garbled, but you can safely ignore them.
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.