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Eikyu Tsuho's Blog

06 Jun 2019

A Brief Introduction to Japan's Twelve Ancient Coins

| Eikyu Tsuho

See more articles on my website, blog.eikyutsuho.tk.




This fascinating series of coins was made in Japan from Wado year 1 to Tentoku year 2 (708 AD to 958 AD), and formed the foundation for the currency used until the Meiji reforms in 1868. Interestingly, these coins are all modeled off of Chinese coins from the same time period; they are all round, cast, and display four characters on the obverse and none on the reverse. In Japan, these coins are referred to as "Kocho Juni Sen" (according to the Hartill catalog), which roughly translates to "Twelve Antique Coins," hence their name in English. All of these coins were cast in copper, with the exception of a few that were cast in silver, gold and iron. However, the purity (and size) of these "copper" coins varied wildly due to a "wave of Buddhism" (Munro catalog) at the time, in which the creation of thousands of statues of Buddha depleted the copper supply. Therefore, small and crude versions of these coins can be found that contain a wealth of other metals than copper (such as tin, lead and zinc). These coins have been heavily counterfeited since their release, so the collector must be very wary when purchasing them! Additionally, these coins are very rare nowadays, so they are expensive and difficult to locate, even in Japan. All in all, this captivating set of coins was the start of Japan's monetary system.

Comments

xaviera

Level 4

I"be never really been interested in world coins but maybe I"ll start collecting them. Thanks

thisistheshow

Level 4

Thank you! This is all new info to me. Very informative. I love it.

Kepi

Level 6

Enjoyed your blog! Great information! Thanks ; )

PastorK7354

Level 4

Very interesting information. Thanks.

Thanks for the info and research

Longstrider

Level 6

Great blog. Full of info. Thanks for your research.

Mike

Level 7

Great information. I thank you for such an informative blog great history. I learned something today. Great work. Pat.

Mokie

Level 6

Thank You for sharing this interesting insight into ancient Japanese coinage. There is also an excellent article on the subject of ancient Japanese coins at Coin Talk: https://www.cointalk.com/threads/the-first-official-circulating-coins-of-japan-the-twelve-antique-coins-of-japan.298388/

Eikyu Tsuho

Level 3

Thank you for this reference. I have read through it, and there is some useful information that I can reference in my future articles

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