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Japanese 50-yen pieces

Started by villa66, April 29, 2011, 12:13:05 AM

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A decade after the end of the Second World War Japan had become a different country. The days of empire were finished. The American Occupation had ended. Imperial Japan had become a constitutionally-restrained monarchy and the emperor was only an emperor, not a God.

It was 1955 and the Japanese economy—spurred in part by the UN's recent war in Korea—had improved dramatically. At the time, Japan's highest denomination coin was the bronze 10-yen, and one consequence of this increased economic activity was the introduction in 1955 of a new 50-yen coin.

This particular example of Japan's first 50-yen coin is dated Showa 32 (1957). Like the others of this type, it weighs 5.5 grams and is struck in pure nickel. This 50-yen type was coined only the four years from 1955-1958, and many of these coins were later withdrawn and recoined into the small copper-nickel 50-yen pieces introduced in '67. But there would be another large-diameter 50-yen type in between....


A second 50-yen type debuted in 1959, also coined in pure nickel, but at a weight of 5.0 grams, lighter by nearly 10%. The lighter weight would have meant a savings in material costs, but I wonder if the primary reason for this new type—which, unlike the previous coin, was center-holed—was to prevent confusion between the 50-yen and the new silver 100-yen coin that had been introduced in '57. Below, the center-holed 50-yen of 1959-1966.

This example is dated Showa 40 (1965), very near the end of the type's production run. These large-diameter coins were withdrawn and together with earlier nickel 50-yen pieces were melted, and then alloyed with copper for recoining as yet another, smaller, center-holed 50-yen coin beginning in '67. (Some of the reclaimed metal was also used for the new copper-nickel 100-yen that was introduced that same year.)....


Japan's new, small-size 50-yen was coined in an alloy of 75% copper and 25% nickel. With its reduced weight of 4.0 grams, the new coin used 80% less nickel than the previous type. As would be expected with a departure of this sort, the new coin was produced in enormous quantities—more than 900,000,000 in the first five years.

This example of the new coin is dated Showa 50 (1975). By the time it was coined these were already the longest-lived 50-yen coins, and their success—with the minor changes occasioned by a new Emperor, of course—has continued to the present day.

Clean, handsome, successful coins, I think, like the country that produced them.

:) v.


Nice thread - I enjoyed this, in the absence of a "Like" button.