Tenpo Tsuho Again? Yup! But this is worth $250!

This is a common variety of this oblong coin called the Tenpo Tsuho、天保通宝 . This coin is a run-of-the-mill variety. So why is this worth $250 and not $10? It is worth $250 because....

Bantan Sen バンタン銭

These odd coins resembling "cash coins" are said to have been cast in Indonesia. Other than that, not much is known about them. Japanese collectors usually add a few of these coins in their collections as a curio.

When were they made? Did they actually circulate? How extensive are the types and varieties of these curoius coins? What are their values?

They are unanswered questions. My opinion? They were made during the mid-1700s to early1800s for trading purposes and never achieved a standard as an official currency. As we find remnants of this coinage in Japan, China, Singapore, Indonesia, Netherlands and other seafaring countries, it is obvious that it enjoyed some status as a trade coinage. The value of these coins is dormant as there is no attribution guide for the series. The coins usually trade for five to twenty dollars a piece. This field is still unresearched, and anyone can become an expert, if willing.



Illustrated is a Kanei Tsuho coin from 1668. This coin was filed on the obverse and the reverse. Some farmers, during a drought, made a representation of an umbrella by using a file. They donated these coins to a local temple, saisen-bako. Did they work?

I owned six or seven such coins over the years and probably saw another five to ten coins for sale. They were all Shin Kanei Tsuho. It is likely that this "creation" was only limited to a handful of villages and only during certain period. Some have filings on obverse or reverse only. These coins are legitimate "post-casting" variety and collected as such. They retail for about $20 for a common undertype. Of course, if the undertype is a scarcer type or a variety then the price will reflect that.