Bunkyu Eiho coin (文久永宝)

Bunkyu Eiho coin was a coin circulated at the end of the Edo period. It was a round shaped coin with a square hole in the center. On the head of the coin, each of the four characters "文 久 永 寳(宝)" is engraved in the order of top, bottom, right and left, and on the tail, wave patterns are engraved.


Three writing styles were used to engrave '文 久 永 寳 (or 宝)' and each writing was created by a cabinet official who was a skilled calligrapher. The character '文' engraved in the Kaisho-tai (square style of writing) was originally written by Nagamichi OGASAWARA, wakadoshiyori, and called 'shinbun,' the character '攵' engraved in the Sosho-tai (cursive style writing) was originally written by Katsukiyo ITAKURA, roju (senior councilor), and called 'sobun,' and the character '寳,' spelt '宝'in the Sosho-tai (cursive style writing) was originally written by Yoshinaga MATSUDAIRA, the president of the political affairs and tasks, and called 'Ryakuho'.

It was made of copper, approx. 2.7 centimeters in diameter, and its prescribed weight was approx. 3.375 grams, which was lighter than that of the early Kanei-tsuho (coins). The coin was cast from February, 1863 to 1867. Its monetary value (currency unit) was four mon (currency unit during the Edo period).

Brief history

Iron made Kanei-tsuho shimonsen coin cast from 1860 was unpopular and the casting cost was high. Thus, shimonsen was changed to the original bronze coin, however, the price of copper rose due to a lack of production, so shisenmon coin was made with less copper.

In principle, Kanei-tsuho Shimonsen coins had been cast under the supervision of the gin-za; however, Bunkyu-eiho coins cast at the gin-za in Fukagawa (Koto Ward), Senda (Koto Ward), and Shinden (Daikucho) in Edo under the supervision of the gin-za were in the 'shinbun' style, while Bunkyo-eiho coins cast at the zeni-za in Asakusabashijo (Kosuge) under the supervision of the kin-za were in the 'sobun' and 'ryakuho' styles.

According to the analysis made by Japan Mint in the Meiji period, the composition of the coin was 0.060% silver, 83.107% bronze, 11.227% lead, 3.217% tin, 0.269% iron, 0.489% antimony, 1.500% arsenic, and 0.387% sulfur.

Among the 2,114,246,283 Kanei-tsuho do ichimonsen coins recalled, 1,420,200,000 were recast as Bunkyu-eiho coin; also, according to a record, the total number of Bunkyu-eiho coins cast was 891,515,631.

At first, the government ordered people to circulate Bunkyu-eiho coins as a substitute for shinchu shimonsen coin. However, they could not help admitting that, in reality, their rates could not be treated in the same way on the market. In June 1865, the rates of the coins were regulated so as to give them the following premium: one Tetsu ichimonsen coin was worth 12 mon of Kanei-tsuho shinchu shimonsen coin or 8 mon of Bunkyu-eiho coin.
In 1867, a free-rate system was employed, resulting in the following rates, with the standard rate of Tetsu ichimonsen equal to one mon:

Kanei-tsuho do ichimonsen coin: 10 - 12 mon

Kanei-tsuho shinchu shimonsen coin: 20 - 24 mon

Bunkyu-eiho coin: 15 - 16 mon

Tenpo-tsuho coin: 80 - 96 mon

Kanei-tsuho tetsu shimonsen coin: 2 mon

Kanei-tsuho tetsu ichimonsen coin: 1 mon

The value of the old copper coin after the establishment of New Currency Regulation was set based on this market price; one yen became equivalent to one ryo; furthermore, using the standard rate of one ryo = 10000 mon, the currency rates of the coins became the following:

Kanei-tsuho do ichimonsen coin: 1 ri

Kanei-tsuho shinchu shimonsen coin: 2 ri

Bunkyu-eiho coin: 1.5 ri

Tenpo-tsuho coin: 8 ri

Kanei-tsuho tetsu shimonsen coin: 1 ri with 8 coins

Kanei-tsuho tetsu ichimonsen coin: 1 ri for 16 coins

Among these coins, Tetsusen coin was abolished on December 25, 1873, and Tenpo Tsuho coin in 1891, however, bronze coins such as Bunkyu eiho coins were still legally valid until they were demonetarized by the enactment of the 'Small Currency Disposition and Fractional Rounding in Payments Act' (Shogaku tsuka no seiri oyobi shiharaikin no hasukeisan ni kan suru horitsu).

[Original Japanese]