Bita Sen Market

Globalization is interesting. While being beneficial to some, it is a nuisance to others. The market of all collectibles shifted in the last decade or so with the advent of the internet and the internet auctions. This “shift” is based on supply and demand, and it is constantly changing. In the end, the market adjusts itself. However, there is an old saying that “bad items drive the good items away.”

The Japanese swords on eBay are a good example. As 99.9% of the swords listed there today are reproductions made in China, this has driven away the sellers and the buyers of genuine Japanese swords. The reproductions are improving. Especially so are the NCO swords from WWII. As there are many excellent sites devoted to Japanese swords, this is not the place for such discussions. It is mentioned only as an example.

The shift on the Bita Sen market correlates directly to the market of genuine and fake Chinese coins offered from China and elsewhere. Some of the old-timers can recall when many Chinese coins were difficult to locate in the 60s, 70s, and the 80s. Items that sold for $50-$100 then are available today for a tiny fraction. In fact, they are so cheap and abundant that the demand for them is nil.

The same can be said of the Japanese Bita Sen. They were quite costly once. However, there seems to be a never-ending supply coming out of China today. This has taken a toll on their rarities and prices. The Bita Sen market in Japan just about collapsed. Nevertheless, there are still many buyers, but they are very careful and insist on buying only the most attractive coins at very reasonable prices.

From personal observations, I noticed that the commonest Japanese coins coming out of China are the type we call the Nagasaki Trade Coins made in the mid-1600s. This is followed by the Bita Sen of the 16th century. The Kajiki Sen, made around the same period, are much scarcer. As for the common Kanei Tsuho, they seem to be a rarity. From this information alone, one can do a study of flow of coins to China and elsewhere from Japan during the 16th and the 17th centuries. Obviously, from this simple data, one can conclude that post-Edo period coins did not flow out of Japan except for the Nagasaki coins. This is understandable, Japanese History 101.

Were some of the so-called Bita Sen made in China instead of Japan? I believe so. Furthermore, some coins attributed as Japanese Bita Sen by sellers with good intention (?) are not really Japanese coins at all. The field of Bita Sen is a tricky field. A good research on the subject is necessary.

These are some of the Bita Sen I found on the net.


Kaiki Shoho

These eight coins are from the site of the Tokyo National Museum. They attribute the coins to 760 C.E. Back then, one gold cash was worth ten silver cash, and one silver cash was worth ten copper cash. So, this gold cash was worth 100 copper cash. I will be happy to give anyone 100 of my copper cash for any one of these.

Better Repros on the Market

This would be a scarce seed coin if genuine. It is nicely made with good color and good metal. If one did not know what a genuine seed coin from this mint looked like, this can be a very scary piece. This piece, although not genuine, is a good piece to own for $10 as a study piece.