The Japanese trade dollar was for the most part, an experiment to enter the lucrative markets of Chinese trade and in order to encourage Japanese merchants to increase their own economic activity. The coins were equivalent to the Trade Dollars introduced two years earlier from the United States.
The first coins issued in 1875 included the regnal year of 8 and the last were denoted as 10 although they may have been struck in the 11th year of the Emperor’s reign referred to as the Meiji era. The design for Japan’s Trade Dollar carried over from the first silver Yen coins struck in 1870. The obverse side of these exceptional coins portrayed a traditional depiction of a coiled dragon holding a tamashi which is an orb or treasure sphere regarded as a special jewel said to contain supernatural power.
According to myth, if a dragon loses its tamashi, it will lose its own supernatural power. The Dragon and orb were enclosed in a circle of dots and around which are inscribed the date of the coin in Kanji, the adopted logographic Chinese characters used in the Japanese writing system.
Explore our Exclusive Trade Dollar Collection inspired by the fascinating coins that travelled the high seas all in the name of trade and commerce.