Thursday, August 21, 2008

Old & Rare Hansatsu banknotes of Samurai rulers of Japan

During the Edo period (Tokugawa Shogunate Period) between 1603 to 1868 in Japan, the scrip or paper currency issued and used in different domains (states) were called Hansatsu.

During that time Japan was ruled by fierce Shogun warlords employing highly skilled samurai armies. Paper money was first issued in Japan in the early seventeenth century, when serious shortages of coins arised. During the Edo period many local clans, merchants, communities and banks issued their own currency.

These tall, thin notes (approximately 6" x 1.5", 160mm x 40mm) were hand-printed on heavy paper with woodblocks by local artisans. These Hansatsu scrip had a face value in silver coinage, but gold and copper scrip also circulated. In addition, some scrip was marked for exchange in kind for a commodity such as rice, wine or oil.

Counterfeiting was discouraged by severe punishment, as well as by elaborate techniques such as watermarking and the use of special hidden characters. In fact, the artisans who made the paper money had to sign an oath of secrecy in blood, promising not to reveal any of these anti-counterfeiting measures.

Both sides are printed with black ink, overprinted with red validation stamps. On one side, at the top, is an intricate vignette of a multi-armed goddess seated in the lotus position, while at the bottom is a fierce-looking man-headed goat, with two storks flying above and two turtles at his feet. Between these two vignettes are five columns of Japanese characters. On the other side of the note are numerous Japanese characters in columns, along with a vignette of a plump, smiling god seated in the lotus position, with two figures behind him, both holding short swords.

HANSATSU note of Silver 1 Monme Trade Note issued by TOKUSHIMA Han in AWA ( TOKUSHIMA ). Issued in KYOHO 15th year ( 1730 ).

HANSATSU note of Silver 3 Bu Trade Note issued by TSUDERA in BITCHU ( OKAYAMA ).

HANSATSU note of Silver 1 Monme Trade Note issued by KOUYASAN DAITOKUIN in YAMATO ( NARA ) in GANJI 1sr year ( 1864 ).

HANSATSU of Silver 1 Monme RICE Trade Note issued by YATSUGAMURA in YAMATO (NARA). Issued in KEIOH 1st Year, (1865). EARLY TYPE. This scarce rice note type is about 6 inches in length and 1-1/2 inches wide, and is made of thick, high-quality paper. Both sides are printed with black ink, and each side is overprinted with two red validation stamps. One of these red stamps shows a large bale of rice, bound with thick rope. On the top of one side is a reclining water-buffalo, and the rest of the note is covered with Japanese characters from top to bottom. The denomination is 1 monme, which was the equivalent of 3.75 grams of silver.

This note above was exchanged for 1 momme of silver.

In 1868, new Meiji Government of Japan was restored. The leaders of the Samurai overthrew the Tokugawa Shogunate. And all different domains were abolished and merged. In 1871 due to incompatible denominations of Hansatsu notes, the Meiji Government ordered the abolition of the han system and ordered the exchange of all scrip for the national currency. In 1872 new currency introduced in Japan indicating the value in yen and the smaller sen and rin. And till the present times Yen is still the currency of Japan.

But surely these around 150 years old notes would make make your collection something special. In a very good condition these each notes may cost around US$30 to 50.


Greg said...

Found your post on line while researching coins and hasatsu from my father's collection after his passing in April of this year. IF you have additional info on the hansatsu especially I surely would be interested in any references you might recommend. I will check back here often to see if you have any reply. Thank you for your time.

Lisa said...

If you have any interest in selling the Hansatsu you have please let me know.

Thank you