Last of the Japanese trade silver…

Taisho Year 3 (1914) Japan One Yen, Y# 38


Typically, a Japanese coin of this age will show which year of a particular emperor’s reign it was made in – the era name is different to the emperor’s – and so this lovely large silver piece states that it was produced in the third year of the era of ‘great righteousness’.

That time began in 1912 when Yoshihito ascended the throne and lasted until 1926, so we can safely say that this coin is an example from 1914.


A consultation of the relevant Krause confirms that this was the last of the big silver yen coins which followed and were similar in style and size to the late 19th century trade dollars of various nations; and (I’m guessing) were designed to fulfill a similar function whilst being quite distinct in their origin.

Certainly it is from a single year issue, and interestingly, is the end of what I often think of as the Japanese ‘piece of eight’, or, ‘standard international trade silver currency’ coins, all types of which clearly announced both weight (416 grains troy) and fineness (.900) so that traders to the Land of the Rising Sun would have had no qualms about their value.

I really like it … it genuinely taps in to that global history without hitting your wallet too hard – a true Japanese trade dollar in similar condition would probably be something like 20x more expensive… and so I figure I’m maximising ‘bang for buck’!…but that’s just me…

Happy Collecting!

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