JAPAN, KYUSHU, copper, 1 mon, ND (c. 1580-1620),

$28.00

JAPAN, KYUSHU, 1 mon, ND (c. 1580-1620), Obverse: GENHO TSUHO, seal script, copper, 25.7mm, 4.35g, H3.127, F+

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Description

Year title borrowed from a Chinese coin from a few centuries previous.

Japan took their idea of coinage directly from China, making square holed cast bronze coins starting in the 8th century AD. The chinese had been making coins for 1300 years already, so the Japanese could see what the benefits and problems were. There is the possibility, given the rarity of the earliest Japanese coins, and the existence of silver versions, that the whole coinage thing started with a palace game of Let’s Play Chinese. My main reference is the book: Early Japanese Coins, by David Hartill.

The oldest Chinese coins are at least as old as the earliest Greek coins. The Chinese coinage system differed from other systems in two ways. It was monometallic, only bronze coins circulated in general commerce. Gold and silver were treated as commodities. And the manufacturing method was by casting in moulds rather than by striking heated solid planchets. The main reference I use in attributing and describing these coins is the book: Chinese Cast Coins, by David Hartill.