Books and References

Useful books and online resources for Japanese coin collectors

Below are two tables of books and websites that you may find useful when researching and learning about Japanese coins. First are books that are useful to anyone getting started in Japanese coins. Some of these are the guides that are essential to have when you first start, but be aware that none of them contain an accurate valuation system. Next listed are some more specialized sources for Japanese coins, particularly sources in Japanese or in-depth identification guides. For rarer coin valuations and for pre-Meiji coins, use the JNDA catalog as well as Japanese coin auction records. For less expensive post-Meiji coins, auctions, including eBay, are the most accurate way to value Japanese coins.

Name Description Link
General References
Early Japanese Coins (David Hartill) Despite a few errors with identifications and attributions, this book is the best overall reference in English for beginning collectors in pre-Meiji Japanese coins. It provides information on all Japanese cast coins, as well as on the gold and silver pre-Meiji issues. Available on Amazon
Standard Catalog of World Coins: 1801-1900, 1901-2000, and 2000-date (Krause and Mishler) These three catalogs are useful to collectors of Japanese coins because they are the primary identification system used for many world coin dealers. However, these catalogs do not provide much information on the coins and (depending on the edition) may even leave certain Japanese coins out, especially in pre-Meiji coins. Available used from many sources
Coins of the World, 1750-1850 (William D. Craig) While out of production for many years, this book is still used among many world coin dealers to identify pre-Meiji Japanese coins. Similarly to the above catalogs, this catalog does not provide much useful information on Japanese coins. Available used from many sources
Japanese Coinage (Norman Jacobs and Cornelius C. Vermeule III) While this book doesn't provide a very useful guide to pre- or post- Meiji Japanese coins beyond what is covered in Hartill and the Krause catalogs, the first section of the book may be useful in providing an overview of Japan's monetary system. Available on Amazon
Specialist References
Catalog of Japanese Coins (JNDA) This is the most common Japanese coin guide in Japanese, and provides information and identification guides for both pre- and post- Meiji coins. If you are able to translate it, the variety descriptions and coin histories can be useful. Often available used on eBay
Coins of Japan (Neil Gordon Munro) Even though it is over 100 years old, this comprehensive study of Japanese coins is useful for any collector interested in getting more in-depth in a study of Japanese coins. While the original books are scarce and expensive, a free PDF of the book is widely available as it is now in the public domain. Unfortunately, the PDF scans of the book don't capture all of the detail of the plates and hence, in combination with its age, this book is useful merely as a reference and not as an identification guide. Available as a PDF (in public domain)
History and Guide to the Copper Cash Coinage of Japan (Robert M. Jones) This English guide provides yet more insight into Japan's history at the time when the coins that are listed were produced. As the title suggests, this book only covers copper cash coins - from the first of the 12 Antique coins to the Bunkyu Eiho. In addition, this book provides a useful attribution and identification guide, as well as an essay on the coins of the Ryukyu islands. Not frequently available for sale
Honpo Bitasen Zufu (Tomifusa Masuo) Titled 本邦鐚銭図譜 and authored by 増尾富房編. This is a very useful reference and rarity guide on Bitasen (imitations of Chinese coins, made by the Japanese and other East Asian countries). (in Japanese) Rarely available for sale in the US
Shin Kanei Tsuho Catalog Titled 新寛永通宝カタログ and authored by 新寛永クラブ. Guide to attribution and valuation of Japanese Shin Kanei Tsuho 1 Mon coins. (in Japanese) Rarely available for sale in the US
Shin Kanei Tsuho Zue Titled 新寛永通宝図会 and authored by 新寛永クラブ. Another catalog on Shin Kanei Tsuho. Difficult to obtain in the US. (in Japanese) Rarely available for sale in the US
Introduction to Kanei Tsuho Coins Titled 穴銭入門寛永通宝 and authored by 静岡いづみ会. Another catalog on Shin Kanei Tsuho. Difficult to obtain in the US. (in Japanese) Rarely available for sale in the US
Name Description Link Coin database and forum for researching and discussing oriental coins.
Bank of Japan Currency Museum This website by the Bank of Japan provides a wealth of information on the background of Japanese coins.
Japanese Cash Coins Blog This blog, while somewhat difficult to navigate, contains some fascinating information on Japanese cash coins as the title suggests.
Japanese Cash Coins This website, by a professor of Japanese history, provides interesting insight into pre-Meiji Japanese coins from a different perspective to many other sources.