Japanese Tien Ming Token
Images are clickable.
Actual size is 58 mm. Brass.
Once more item - obverse and reverse.
Show items are latest imitations of described below coins.
Message from Stephen Tai (14-Jan-98):
Shown item does not come from Ming Dynasty, not even from China.
I am sure that this object originated from Japan. Item itself dated as the 7th year
of Tien-Ming period. Tien-Ming is a name for a Japanese emperor in around
the 18th century.
Inscriptions are translated as:
Although it declares itself as a one-tael-gold, and kind of currency,
but it looks for me like being made of copper, not a general issued currency
of the date. The issuer, Horse Service Bureau, is supposing an official
sector, its position empowered it for so issuing with the stipulation as the
reverse inscribed. To my judgement, this issuance may be considered as
"Semi-currency", just like the average tokens, in addition to not being
issued by regular mints, is limited to circulate for certain occassions and
purposes only, and within its permitted yet limited circulation,
substitutes nominal value of payment.
- Obverse: Gold for one Tael
- Reverse: Autumn, September, The 6th year of Tien
Ming. Counterfeiting of this
currency shall be sentenced by laws for more sever punishment.
[Issued] By: Horse Service Bureau.
The shape of this item is adopted from kind of palace issued sliver
ingots of late Ming Dynasty (the end of the XVI Century) of China.
Actually such shape didn't last in China for too long, it faded out very
soon for unknown reasons, and was taken place mainly by Yuan-Bao, the
Boat shape sycee. On the contray, however, Japanese merged this shape into their
system, took it as one of the symbols of their currency, a lot of silver
and gold ingots began to bear this shape, since around the begining of the
To know more about the silver ingots in similar shape of Late Ming
dynasty, and how it was adopted by Japanese, you may refer to the book
written by Qing Yu, "The Verification on Ancient Chinese Gold & Silver
Currencies" 1991, Shanghai, some photos are also provided there.
Description, found in the Hong Kong Coin Auction, Taisei-Baldwin-Gillio,
Catalogue 21, 31 August 1995:
Lot 606: Pre-Meiji Provincial Coinage: Copper 1 Ryo, Horse Market
Money of Nanbu, 6th Year (1786).
Show in the Catalogue item is 63 mm in diameter.
Images received on 9-Dec-98 from Kevin Yee (click image for it enlarge):