An unknown item

Feb.01, 1998

Size 33.9 x 28.6, weight 13.7 g
Middle vertical inscription: Wu Shi Wen ('Fifty Cents')
Left and rigth vertical inscriptions: each should have 4 characters, they may be in Chinese or Japanese Kan Ji, but can't be recognized.

Middle vertical inscription: Ba ('eight') ? (can't be recognized) Tong Yuong (such two words mean 'circulation')
Right vertical inscription: Jiang ('River') Shang ('Mountain) Hai ('Sea') Chuan ('Brook')
Left vertical inscription: not readable.

Upper description and below message were received from Stephen Tai (03-Feb-98):
    The condition of such item is poor, there should be some scripts placed on each face, but they have been seriously worn out, just part of them can be recognized.

    The feature is similar to Chinese sycee in Sung Dynasty, but Chinese seems had never cast such kind of copper coin. The gesture of the scripts is much more like Japanese style, they had taken such feature to cast their money before. I assume with my intuition, it could be a Japanese token.

Message from Luke Roberts (11-Jan-02):
    This is a fantasy created by a Japanese metalsmith named Odabe Ichirou in the 1920's and 30's. It purports to be a 50 mon coin paid to laborers who worked to help build a gun emplacement in Shinagawa in 1853 to help defend Edo (Tokyo) against the return of Commodore Perry. Odabe made many fantasies and sold them at stalls in festivals throughout Japan. Some collectors specialize in his things. This one looks like a second generation recast from an original and so is hard to read.

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