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Japanese 1 sen coin (leper colony money)

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1 sen
General information
Country

Merchant flag of Japan (1870) Japan

Used by
Value

¥0.01

Years

between 19121948 (ND)

Measurements and composition
Composition
Appearance
Shape
  • round (OS, NA)
  • oval-shaped with round hole (TZ, NA)
Alignment

n/a; uniface (TZ, NA)

Obverse

Value

Reverse
  • "検" symbol (OS)
  • blank (TZ, NA)
v · d · e

Coins denominated at 1 sen were minted at certain points between 1912 and 1948 specifically for use in a handful of Japanese leprosariums, including the Ōshima Seishōen Sanatorium in Takamatsu, Kagawa Prefecture; Tama Zenshōen Sanatorium in Higashimurayama, Tokyo; and Nagashima Aiseien Sanatorium in Setouchi, Okayama Prefecture. Like the 1 sen coins used outside of the sanatoriums, the coins used inside by institutions had values equal to 0.01 yen prior to demonetization.

The coins were used instead of normal 1 sen pieces in the leper colonies for fear that people could become infected by leprosy through contact with items lepers had touched. It has since been proven that leprosy cannot be transmitted through such means, so handling the coins is not harmful to one's health.

CoinsEdit

Coin of the Ōshima Seishōen SanatoriumEdit

The Ōshima Seishōen Sanatorium on the island of Ōshima in Takamatsu, Kagawa, was established in 1909 and is currently in operation. As of 2008 the institution had 127 in-patients.

At some point between the years 1912 and 1925 a series of coinage including a 1 sen coin was minted to serve as currency for the lepers in the sanatorium. The sen piece of the series is composed of brass and is round in shape. The value is written vertically in Japanese as "壹銭" (Romanized: Ichi sen; English: "One sen"). The symbol "検" (Ken; "Inspection") is stamped twice to the left of the value, while the name of the reigning Emperor Taishō at the time is written in Japanese as "大正" to the right of the value. A single "検" character is shown on the reverse. The total mintage of this coin is currently unknown. The Standard Catalog of World Coins lists it as a rare piece, and does not currently include any valuations in any grade.

Coin of the Tama Zenshōen SanatoriumEdit

The Tama Zenseien Sanatorium (Tama Zenshōen Sanatorium since 1941) in Higashimurayama, Tokyo, was founded in 1909, and is currently in operation. As of 2008 the leprosarium had a total of 319 in-patients.

At some point between 1926 and 1928 a 1 sen coin was introduced at the sanatorium. It is composed of lacquered brass, and unlike many coins of the time period, it is oval-shaped and has a circular hole in its center. Inscribed on the obverse is the coin's value, and engraved along its rim are a number of sun rays. The reverse of this uniface piece is blank and carries no designs or text. Like the coin from the Ōshima Seishōen Sanatorium, the Standard Catalog of World Coins lists the piece from the Tama Zenshōen as rare and does not include any valuations.

Coins of the Nagashima Aiseien SanatoriumEdit

The Nagashima Aiseien Sanatorium on the island of Nagashima in Setouchi, Okayama, was founded in 1930 due to the inefficiency of the earlier established facilities. Like the aforementioned sanatoriums, it is currently in operation. In 2008 there were a total of 369 in-patients at the facility. At some point from 1931 to 1948 coins were produced for the Nagashima Aiseien Sanatorium, including two types of pieces denominated at 1 sen.

The first type is composed of lacquered brass and is oval-shaped with a circular hole in its center. Featured at the very top of the obverse is the badge of the Nagashima Aiseien Sanatorium, flanked by a flower on both sides. The value is inscribed vertically below it as "一銭" (Ichi sen), with the characters being separated by the center hole. The Japanese text "内通用票" (Uchi tsūyō-hyō) is printed vertically along the left rim of the coin, while the legend "長島愛生園" (Nagashima Aiseien) is written in the same format at the right side of the obverse. Together, the legends essentially identify the piece as currency from the Nagashima Aiseien Sanatorium. Three arches are shown at the very bottom of the coin, directly below the "銭" (sen) character. This uniface coin's reverse is blank. The Standard Catalog of World Coins lists it as a rare piece, and lacks mintage figures and prices. An Extra Fine example was sold by Heritage Auctions in 2002 for US$800. It was the first, and to date only, specimen the famed auction house ever auctioned off.

The second type is composed of lacquered aluminum and is round in shape. Like the other coin from the Nagashima Aiseien Sanatorium, the facility's badge is present at the top of the obverse. The value is printed vertically below it in Japanese script as "一銭" (Ichi sen). A depiction of two flowers tied together by a bow partially surrounds the indication of the coin's value, with each flower extending upward until stopping near the rim. The Japanese legend featured on the other coin of Nagashima Aiseien is written from right to left as "票用通内園生愛島長" (Uchi tsūyō-hyō Nagashima Aiseien) around the coin's bottom periphery, starting at the left side of the coin and arching downward to end at the opposite side of the obverse. The coin is uniface, and does not bear any text or designs on its reverse. In the Krause catalogs the piece is not designated as rare, and unlike the other 1 sen leper coins, valuations are provided for Very Fine and Extra Fine grades. One Extra Fine example was sold by Heritage Auctions in 2000 for US$450, and another of a similar grade was sold by the same auction house in 2002 for US$425.

ReferencesEdit

Template:Japan leprosarium currency

 v · d · e
Japanese yen
Banknotes 5s10s50s¥1¥5¥10¥50¥100¥500¥1000¥2000¥5000¥10,000
Coins 1r5r1s2 s5s10s20 s50s¥1¥2¥5¥10¥20¥50¥100¥500¥1000¥100,000
Miscellaneous Bank of JapanJapan MintNational Printing Bureau

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