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Japanese 20 yen coin

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20 yen
20yen-M30
Coin from 1897
General information
Country

Merchant flag of Japan (1870) Empire of Japan

Value

¥20.00

Years

18701932

Measurements and composition
Mass
  • 33.3333 g (1870-1892)
  • 16.6665 g (1897-1932)
Diameter
  • 35.06 (1870-1892)
  • 28.78 mm (1897-1932)
Composition

gold

Appearance
Shape

round

Obverse
Reverse
  • Japanese dragon, value, year (1870-1892)
  • Imperial Seal, wreath, value (1897-1932)
v · d · e

The 20 yen coin is a coin that was minted numerous times by the Empire of Japan. The first issue was introduced in 1870, the third year of the reign of Emperor Meiji (Mutsuhito), and was issued sporadically for circulation until 1880. Pieces of the type were later minted in 1892 but were never put into circulation. A second 20 yen coin was first issued in 1897, the thirtieth year of the Meiji period, and continued to be produced until the emperor's death in 1912. The same coin was then issued by the newly coronated Emperor Taishō (Yoshihito) later that year and was issued every year until 1920. A 20 yen coin of Emperor Shōwa (Hirohito) was made in 1930, but production only lasted until 1932.

The 20 yen piece was the most valuable coin of the yen until the 50 yen piece was introduced in 1955.

HistoryEdit

First coin (1870-1892)Edit

20yen-M3

A 20 yen coin from 1870

The first coin denominated at 20 yen was issued in 1870, the third year of Emperor Meiji's reign, and was minted sporadically until 1892. Such a coin is composed of .900 fine gold, and has a mass of 33.3333 grams and a diameter of approximately 35.06 millimeters. A dragon, a legendary creature in Japanese mythology and folklore, is featured in the center of the coin's obverse, surrounded by a circular beaded border. Outside the border, along the left rim of the coin, is the state title of the Empire of Japan, written from right to left as "本日大" (romanized: Dai Nippon), which translates to English as "Great Japan". The date of minting is printed right to left along the right periphery of the coin as "年" (nen), followed by the number of years the emperor had been in reign at the time of production, and ending with "治明" (Meiji). Essentially, the date "年三治明" (Meiji san-nen), with the "三" character representing the number "3", indicates production during the third year of Meiji's reign. The coin's value is inscribed at the bottom of the coin in Japanese as "圓十二" (Ni-jū en), and like the other text, it is written from right to left. The three legends on the obverse are separated from each other by small bullet points. Displayed in the center of the reverse is a sunburst surrounded by a wreath and superimposed over the Yata no Kagami, a sacred mirror that is part of the Imperial Regalia of Japan. The entire illustration hides portions of two crossing poles, which each hold up a Japanese war banner extending to the left and right sides of the reverse. Displayed at the top center of the coin is the Imperial Seal of Japan — which consists solely of an image of a stylized chrysanthemum flower — and featured at the bottom of the reverse is the Government Seal of Japan — consisting of a stylized paulownia flower.

Over just five years of production, a total of 47,225 examples of the coin were produced, including an unknown number of proof pieces made in 1873. Of the dates collectible, 1873 has the highest mintage, with 46,139 pieces, while neither of the other years has a mintage that exceeds one thousand. The coin is today commonly sought after by numismatists for its rarity, historical significance, and designs. It is thus a common piece for replications and forgeries.

Mintages
Gregorian date Japanese date Mintage
1870 3 (三) 46,139
1876 9 (九) 954
1877 10 (十) 29
1880 13 (三十) 103
1892 25 (五十二)
Total 47,225

Second coin design (1897-1932)Edit

A second variety of 20 yen coin was introduced in 1897, the thirtieth year of Meiji's reign as emperor. The piece was again minted in 1903, and was from that date produced annually until the emperor's death in 1912. Later in 1912, his successor, Taishō, issued a similar coin, which was then issued every year until 1920. After this, a final 20 yen coin was issued during the reign of Emperor Shōwa from 1930 to 1932. Such coins are composed of .900 fine gold, weigh 16.6667 grams (literally half the weight of the earlier 20 yen piece), and measure approximately 28.78 millimeters in diameter. An image of a sunburst superimposed over the sacred Yata no Kagami mirror, similar to the one found on the reverse of the earlier 20 yen coin, is displayed in the center of the obverse. The state title of Japan is written from right to left along the left rim of the coin as "本日大" (Dai Nippon), while the date is written in the same direction and extends from the upper to the right periphery. The system used for the date is similar to that on the earlier 20 yen coin, starting with the "年" (nen) character, followed by the number of years the emperor was in reign at the time of production, and ending with the name of the emperor written backward. On coins from the reign of Meiji the name reads "治明" (Meiji), on those of Taishō it says "正大" (Taishō), and on those of Shōwa it features "和昭" (Shōwa). Written at the bottom of the obverse is the Japanese value "圓十二" (Ni-jū en). All three of the legends are separated from each other by small Government Seals, as opposed to bullet points. The Imperial Seal of Japan is featured at the very top of the reverse. Directly below it is the value, inscribed vertically as "二十圓" (Ni-jū en). A wreath starts at the bottom of the coin and extends up both sides of the reverse before ending near the Imperial Seal.

A total of 49,524,656 examples of the coin were produced during the combined reigns of all three emperors. Of these, 13,737,180 were made under Meiji; 17,205,500 were minted under Taishō; and 18,581,976 were produced under Shōwa.

Mintages
Gregorian date Japanese date Mintage
Meiji (Mutsuhito)
1897 30 (十三) 1,861,000
1903 36 (六十三)
1904 37 (七十三) 2,759,470
1905 38 (八十三) 1,045,904
1906 39 (九十三) 1,331,332
1907 40 (十四) 817,362
1908 41 (一十四) 458,082
1909 42 (二十四) 557,882
1910 43 (三十四) 2,163,644
1911 44 (四十四) 1,470,054
1912 45 (五十四) 1,272,450
Total 13,737,180
Taishō (Yoshihito)
1912 1 () 177,644
1913 2 (二) 869,248
1914 3 (三) 1,042,890
1915 4 (四) 1,509,962
1916 5 (五) 2,376,641
1917 6 (六) 6,208,885
1918 7 (七) 3,118,647
1919 8 (八) 1,531,217
1920 9 (九) 370,366
Total 17,205,500
Shōwa (Hirohito)
1930 5 (五) 11,055,500
1931 6 (六) 7,526,476
1932 7 (七)
Total 18,581,976
All emperors
Total 49,524,656

ReferencesEdit

 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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