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The first modern style circulating coins of Japan, 1870-1871


Category: Japan
Set Type: Silver Type Set, 1870-1871, Circulation Issue, Including Varieties
Owner: Star City Homer
Last Modified: 11/29/2019
Views: 382

Rank: 1
Score: 26561
Leading by: 14075
Points to Higher Rank: N/A
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Set Description:

This set encompasses the silver coins from the first two years of modern coin production in Japan.

The modern era began after the Meiji restoration, and with a revision of the monetary system to better consolidate the Emperor’s will and integrate with world trade. The efforts included the major purchase of minting machinery and hiring skilled people to produce the new coins.

The first coins for circulation were dated 1870, and the first two years showed many modifications to designs, if not outright changes. Everything from engraving changes (the ‘shallow’ and ‘deep’ scale varieties being notable), to dropping one motif in favor of another, or even changing planchet dimensions. It is not difficult to find coins with significant die rotation, breaks, or clashing from these early days.

With an exception, the obverse designs included a central dragon clutching it’s treasure. The dragon represents the Emperor, and the orb or pearl is either treasure or wisdom depending what you read. The legends surrounding are all in kanji text and include the issuing authority Dai Nippon (’Great Japan’), the regnal year date, and the denomination. Subsequently the designs starting in 1873 changed the denomination to the western style of writing and placed the kanji denomination on the reverse. However these first two years did not include any non-Japanese text.

The reverse design is the central rising sun or sunburst motif and represents the Sun Goddess, who is nominally the ancestress of the Imperial family. Centered above the sunburst is the Imperial chrysanthemum crest with paulownia leaves/flowers adjacent representing the government. Surrounding the sunburst are branches of paulownia and chrysanthemum foliage joined by a ribbon .

Overall, this became one of the most interesting sets to put together. The varieties included in this set are the basic ones guided by the Krause Standard Catalog of World Coins. There are many more types and varieties however, and the Japanese Numismatic Dealer Association (JNDA) catalog reflects many more. The latter is in Japanese but remains very useful even to the non-reader of Japanese.

Some of the coins included here have more commentary due their inclusion in a custom Japan Type set (modeled after the old Dansco set).
 Slot DescriptionGradeServiceScore
View Coin M3(1870) SHALLOW SCALES 5 SEN MS 65 NGC 1973
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View Coin M3(1870) DEEP SCALES 5 SEN MS 63 NGC 2498
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View Coin M3(1870) SHALLOW SCALES 10 SEN MS 65 NGC 916
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View Coin M3(1870) DEEP SCALES 10 SEN MS 64 NGC 1110
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View Coin M3(1870) SHALLOW SCALES 20 SEN MS 63 NGC 631
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View Coin M3(1870) DEEP SCALES 20 SEN MS 64 NGC 908
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View Coin M3(1870-1871) 50 SEN 31.5 MM Y4 MS 65 NGC 1073
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View Coin M3(1870) YEN TYPE I MS 65 NGC 2274
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View Coin M3(1870) YEN TYPE II MS 62 NGC 1989
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View Coin M3(1870) YEN TYPE III MS 63 NGC 3203
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View Coin M4(1871) 53 RAYS 5 SEN MS 65 NGC 1510
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View Coin M4(1871) 66 RAYS 5 SEN MS 63 NGC 1018
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View Coin M4(1871) DRAGON TYPE 5 SEN AU 55 NGC 1744
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View Coin M4(1871) 20 SEN MS 67 NGC 879
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View Coin M4(1871) INCOMPLETE "SEN" 20 SEN MS 64 NGC 1393
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View Coin M4(1871) 50 SEN TYPE I - 19MM DRAGON CIRCLE Y4a.1 MS 65 NGC 1206
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View Coin M4(1871) 50 SEN TYPE II - 21MM DRAGON CIRCLE Y4a.2 XF 40 NGC 2236
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