Unique Hakata Ginban

Hakata Ginban

Although no collector ever possessed this rarity, its existence was known throughout the numismatic community for centuries. This elusive, historical item became a reality with the discovery of its first specimen during an estate sale (an estate that dates back to the Muromachi Period) in Fukuoka, Kyushu. An antique dealer knowledgeable in numismatics “spotted” it among numerous other articles. (This Ginban has not seen a light of day for over eight centuries.) This dealer made an offer for the Ginban, a price in the five-figures (conveted to US currency). However, Okumura Takeshi, a local historian, persuaded the owner that the item should not be sold to the dealer, and that it should remain in the community. He was successful.

The illustration above is a drawing by us. The inscriptions on the obverse are: Haka-Ta, Aratame-Sho, Shou-An-Ni-Ten 博多 改所 正安二天. It was made ca. 1300 A.D. On the reverse (not illustrated) are several characters, but only one is clear, the character of Naga 長. As you can see from the illustration, the piece was “holed” to be used as a sword guard.

Perhaps while on the subject, I should mention a sister of this piece, Hakata Kinban (one made of gold). The whereabouts of this gold issue is unknown. It was a part of a cultural history maintained by Kushida Temple. The Kinban was “borrowed” during the American occupation, and it is still being “borrowed.”

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