Thursday

Coins of Japan




Coins of Japan by Neil Gordon Munro

This is the best book on the subject ever written in English language. The original edition was published in Yokohama in 1904. There is a wealth of information contained within these pages. What is more incredible is the amount of illustrations, rubbings and full-page plates, 25 cromolithographic plates (fancy word for tinted plates often used to illustrate coins on early 1900 postcards, I think) to illustrate Oban, Koban, and other gold and silver coinage. Also, there is a rare color plate of Magatama.

Munro covers everything from pre-Wado Kaiho (Kaichin) to Bita Sen, E-Sen to Shima Sen, provincial issues to cash coins we don't even know about. This book is a catalog but it reads like a fine biography. One-hundred years went by since the publication. I doubt if anyone can write a better book on Japanese cash coins in a thousand years.

I owned 5-6 original edition in the last 25 years. I kept the first one I ever bought in 1980 (see photos above).This is a rebound edition with its original covers and spine. The interior is quite fresh and has none of those age spots. All the tissue guards are present and it is a presentation copy by Munro. I just could not part with it since there is a photo of my son playing with it in 1982. I paid $150 back then. It was a lot of money to me then, still is.

Nowadays, a decent copy will fetch between $500 and $750. It is worth every penny but best make sure there are all of the plates and things present. Even a reprint will cost a pretty penny today. It is Ok but the Magatama plate is missing, and the colored engraving is black and white, etc. Can not expect too much from a reprint. WorldCat lists 44 holdings for the original 1904 edition and an additional 3 copies for the 1905 London edition.

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