Japan, Tempo Era. Edo (Tokyo) mint, c. 1837-1858

Japan, Tempo Era. Edo (Tokyo) mint, c. 1837-1858


AV Koban, 11.22g (31mm x 59mm). Elongated gold piece with several punch marks.

References: KM-C22b, JNDA 09-21

Grade:  Good strike with some rose gold toning. Punch marks are clearly struck  (wc1006)

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The gold Koban is probably one of the prettiest coins ever made. The koban is an elongated piece of metal with Japanese characters punched into the surfaces. It was utilized starting in the 1600’s. Prior to that, commerce was based largely on trade in rice otherwise known as koku. One koku was needed to feed a single person. This system worked until outside traders, the Portuguese, came and preferred another form of payment. One koban was equal to 3 koku of rice. Over time the koban began to be debased by the minting authorities and counterfeit koban began to circulate within the area. Surprisingly, the counterfeit koban had a higher purity of gold then the legitimate koban and merchants started to prefer those for payment.  The koban was finally discontinued in 1868 during the Meiji restoration.