For information on how to tell the Shin and Ko varieties apart, please
see my other article.
Bronze, Ko (古, translates to old)
Cast from 1626 until 1668, these Ko "Kanei Tsuho" (Currency of the Kanei Era, which began in 1624)
coins of Japan replaced the previous standard currency, the imported Eiraku Tsuho. This new type of coin was
originally created by Sato Shikuse (of Mito, Hitachi Province), and several unofficial coins were minted by
him from 1626-1636. These early issues can be identified by the style of the Ei, which has a top horizontal stroke
that extends to both sides of the center vertical stroke (a style known as Ni-sui-ei). In July 1636, the Japanese government made
the Kanei Tsuho an official coinage (albeit using the normal form of the Ei character), and authorized minting in Sakamoto
(Omi province) and Edo (now Tokyo, Musashi province). Several other mints opened soon after, and slight calligraphic variations
are used to differentiate these mints (since no mint marks were added).
However, precise attribution is difficult and time-consuming even for the experienced collector.
Bronze, Shin (新, translates to new)
Produced from 1668-1867, Shin Kanei Tsuho come in hundreds of varieties, from very affordable types
to exceedingly rare, and therefore expensive, coins. Many different mint marks also exist, ranging from
the very comMon Bun mint mark (1668, Kameido) to the scarce Ichinose mint mark. These coins were at first large
high-quality copper coins, but became increasingly small and debased as time went on due to a shortage of copper. Some later issues
were even produced in iron, but these are covered below.
Iron 1 Mon Kanei Tsuho issues were produced due to a shortage of copper and were cast from 1736 to 1867. As with the bronze 1 Mon,
many varieties exist, and there are also some mint marked issues. ComMon mint marks include: Sendai, Koume-mura. Mother coins of iron
1 Mon are very easy to tell apart, as they are made from copper for iron-only issues.
Iron, Ko Style
Interestingly, there are a few of the iron Japanese 1 Mon coins that appear to deMonstrate Ko calligraphy.
However, in fact, these are still considered Shin Kanei, as they were cast during 1859 to 1867.