Buying coins in Japan -- Price Comparisons

Discussion in 'World Coins' started by The Eidolon, Feb 27, 2021.

  1. The Eidolon

    The Eidolon Well-Known Member

    I studied in Kanazawa, Japan in the summer of 1994. The local shopping center sold a few old coins in the phone card store at extremely inflated prices, so I never bought anything. At the end of the summer, I took a short trip up to Hokkaido and stumbled across a more traditional coin store next to the train station in Asahikawa. Just for fun, here they are in their original packaging so one can compare what Japanese pricing was like in 1994 (bottom two).

    The top two are coins bought about a year ago in the US. Based on typical exchange rates (I don't know what year they were bought in Japan), they were a bit cheaper for me than the original purchaser. ¥500 yen to $4 and ¥1000 to $6. I usually get coins from my local dealer for about 10-20% off his list prices, so I probably paid about $12 for the pair. It's interesting to compare prices in different countries, though I would imagine there is a lot of variation from seller to seller.

    Have any of you purchased coins in person while traveling abroad?
    Please post if you like.
    Ob.jpg Rev.jpg
    Looks like the dealer had a rubber stamp for the Era "明治  年" (Meiji .. year) and separate red stamp for the year number. The dealer above just wrote in the year in red pen, though.
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  3. scottishmoney

    scottishmoney Unwell Unknown Unmembered Supporter

    I would love to buy coins in Japan, love their coins but have never been there long enough to actually find a coin shop. I have bought coins in China though, but I stuck to modern coins including some gold commemoratives. I also bought bundles of older paper money that I remember haggling on the price for.

    The pre-yen coinage for me is absolutely fascinating, as are the hanhatsu. There have been some small hoards of Shogun era coinage including original rice paper and sealed bundles of koban that have come up for sale.

    I've always wondered are there a lot of collectors there in Japan? It just seems like not for some reason.
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  4. The Eidolon

    The Eidolon Well-Known Member

    I think Japan has a strong domestic collector's market, but with real estate so expensive in major cities, it's probably not a great place for small coin shops. At least in the 1990s, I remember a lot of stores for used books, CDs, games and so on. There wasn't really a rental market comparable to the US, so buying and reselling those kinds of goods was common. I imagine if the market was strong enough to support used goods shops at prevailing rents, there were probably a few old coin shops hidden away somewhere. Finding the shops pre-internet would have been another matter. Most streets didn't even have names and tended to snake around unpredictably, so finding a shop in a neighborhood you don't know could be pretty challenging even if for locals. (I remember a taxi driver not being able to find the apartment I was renting from the street address and needing to ask passerby for directions!) Anyway, I'm sure it's much easier to find things now with cell phone maps, and I imagine most coin shops in Japan do business over the internet now.
  5. fretboard

    fretboard Defender of Old Coinage!

    I'd love to go to Japan as my wife is Japanese and I love their culture. :happy: I have a couple of Japanese coins but nothing spectacular except for this gold 2BU. One of my favorite world coins, terrible pics but you get the idea! :D

    5200747-O.jpg 5200747-R.jpg IMG_0387.jpg IMG_0390.jpg IMG_0388.jpg IMG_0390.jpg
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  6. scottishmoney

    scottishmoney Unwell Unknown Unmembered Supporter

    I have a 50 sen coin from 1897 that my dad got there in Okinawa when he was stationed there in the military. He has no idea how he got it, but it was not in change etc. Actually that coin and some more modern Japanese coins were some of the first coins I had in my coin collection - along with a small pile of MPC.
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  7. Bradley Trotter

    Bradley Trotter Supporter! Supporter

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  8. Dnas

    Dnas Active Member

    I live in Yokohama, Japan, and I frequently go to 4 coins shops, and know of two others in Tokyo.
    I also go to markets, where there are specific reputable coin sellers.
    I've posted some of my coins here before, and I can do that later when I get home.
    I'm actually on my way to probably the best known coin shop in Tokyo, Ginza Coins.
    My collection includes most dates for Meiji silver 1 yen coins.... I have about 4-5 missing years. Also various 50, 20 and 10 sen.
    Last edited: Feb 27, 2021
  9. Dnas

    Dnas Active Member

    Here is what I bought at Ginza Coins last April:

    Yr3 1870. Yr23 1890. Yr36 1903.
    Purchase 2020-06-04 a.jpg

    Purchase 2020-06-04 b.jpg

    I couldn't resist the Yr36, which, although it looks black at the edges, is actually orange, blue and purple, with a touch of green.
    Purchase 2020-06-04 c.jpg

    And today, I bought a Yr41 1908, and Yr 17 1884.
    The 1908 is scarce, with only 334,705 minted. Typically, most dates after 1886 minted more than 5 million. I'll see if I can post photos tomorrow.
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  10. Sullykerry2

    Sullykerry2 Humble Collector Willing to Learn

    I collect Japanese coins, principally Meiji, Taisho and early Showa. I was an university exchange student in Tokyo in the early 70s. I returned to work for an American bank in the 80s. I have to agree that Ginza Coins is well known but there are others such as Taisei. I find prices and service to be better among the Japanese dealers than American or Canadian. However, it helps to speak Japanese especially if you off the beaten path in Tokyo i.e. Kobe, Yokohama.

    Be aware that Chinese buyers had been pushing up prices before the COVID epidemic according to several Japanese dealers I met in late 2018, especially at the auctions.

    Atlas Numismatics in Brooklyn has some very high quality Japanese coins. One of the dealers also speaks excellent Japanese.
    Kathy aka Stork is an avid Japanese collector on this board. She can also provide useful information.
    DNAS is also excellent
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  11. Dnas

    Dnas Active Member

    Because of COVID, there are currently no Chinese visitors in Japan, so the prices of Meiji & Taisho 1 yen (and other) coins have dropped a bit, and the selection is better.

    (Prices. The question by the original poster. At Ginza Coins)
    - Generally, you can find AU (maybe AU55-58) on more common 1 yen dates for around 8000yen ($75 USD, 62 EUR). e.g. Yr36, Yr45
    - Lower grade of XF45-AU50 can be found for as low 6000yen ($56 USD, 47 EUR). Also, higher grades with a defect (scratch, small dent on the edge, or chop mark) for the same price. (although I don't often see chop marked coins at Ginza Coins)
    - Highest grade 1yen can be found for 15,000 ($140 USD, 115 EUR) upwards, depending on the date.
    - Y3 (1870) 1 yen can be found from around 30,000 yen for XF45-AU50, then upwards for higher grades.
    - 50 sen coins in common dates can be found for as little as 1500 yen for XF grades. You can find Y3, Y4 & Y6 (1870-71, 73) in AU50-55, for 8000-10,000yen
    - Ginza coins have a LOT of 10sen & 20sen, in lower grades, if I recall correctly, 900yen for 10sen, and 1300yen for 20sen. (most are the late Meiji from Yr40 Taisho T6, which are the smaller rising sun design, but there's also some earlier Meiji dragon design as well) I can check the current prices next time I'm there.
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  12. Dnas

    Dnas Active Member

    Ginza Coins: (Follow the map from JR Yurakucho Station) It's located in a small indoor shopping arcade called "Ginza 5"!8m2!3d35.6725141!4d139.7611668

    Nakano Broadway shops: There are two coin shops there. I can't remember the names. One is on the 2nd floor, one on the 3rd. The 2nd floor one has all sorts of coins. The 3rd floor shop has a large collection of mainly Japanese coins, but they are expensive (It's better value at Ginza Coins) Both are worth a look. Go to JR Nakano Station on the JR Chuo line.!8m2!3d35.7092475!4d139.6656524

    Wasendo coin shop Asakusa: Asakusa subway station (Tokyo Metro Ginza Line).!8m2!3d35.7145485!4d139.7944958
  13. Dnas

    Dnas Active Member

    Here are coins that I bought yesterday: (Yr17 & Yr41 on the left)
    And others I bought a couple of months ago (Yr37 & Yr26). I have another Yr37, but I particularly liked the detail & patina of this one.

    By the way, that nice Yr37 was 10,000yen. Japanese collectors often want a very clean, silvery coin, so those coins in great condition, but with more patina, will often sell for less.
    Last edited: Feb 28, 2021
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  14. Dnas

    Dnas Active Member

    Updates on coins at Ginza Coins: (various worn condition, mostly XF, but a few up to maybe AU55.)
    - 50 sen (Meiji, M3/1870 up to M38/1905): Based on condition (up to UNC)
    - 50 sen (Meiji39/1906-Taisho6/1917): 900yen
    - 50 sen (Taisho11/1922-Showa13/1938): 400yen
    - 20 sen (Meiji6/1873-Meiji38/1905): 1200yen
    - 20 sen (Meiji39/1906-Meiji44/1911): 700yen
    - 10 sen (Meiji6/1873-Meiji38/1905): 700yen
  15. Sullykerry2

    Sullykerry2 Humble Collector Willing to Learn

    Excellent price information. You did not include Taisei which is in Higashi Ikebukuro. It took me a while to find it though. Walking around Ikebukuro looking like a lost "gaijin" attracted a great deal of assistance. Some of it contradictory though. I think they are having an auction in a few days. Ganbatte!
  16. Dnas

    Dnas Active Member

    I haven't been to Taisei, because they are not open on weekends!!!! (so I'm working during the week!)
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  17. gxseries

    gxseries Coin Collector

    I would have love to buy directly from Japan! Prices seem to be a great zeal. I just never got around to it.

    I remember there is a coin shop at Daimaru in Tokyo when I was there a few years ago. The prices were quite something!!! I think there is a sword shop nearby as well. It did leave an impression - one of famed sword had a purple hue to it.
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  18. KBBPLL

    KBBPLL Well-Known Member

    In Thailand you'll frequently find coins for sale, sometimes in odd places. I'm always on the lookout but have only made a purchase once, from this guy's shoe (and memorabilia?) store.
    He fixed my shoes for less than a dollar, so I also bought a small selection of some older Thai coins for a couple bucks.

    Often there's a few for sale at a temple "gift shop", but overpriced and I don't know what I'm looking at anyway. You also run into coins or currency at night markets, like this little pop-up shop.
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  19. Milesofwho

    Milesofwho Omnivorous collector

    I did so while I was in Paris and in London almost four years ago. Fittingly, all the coin dealers in Paris (or at least a decent chunk of them) were located on the Rue de Richelieu. Most of the shops were expensive but one had really good material at good (by my reckoning) prices. The only problem was that I didn’t speak French. In London it was a better experience chiefly because I could communicate better. While I was there, I visited Baldwin’s and Coincraft. It was wonderful being able to discuss my interest in Byzantine money at Baldwin’s, but none of the staff I met specialized in it! They recently have undergone a aesthetic redesign but I will always remember the cabinets and their trays of coins behind that counter. One of the things that was really nice about going in person was not only being able to physically look at the coins but also see the ones more in my range (<£100) that would never make it to the online site. Coincraft was interesting as well because they sell antiquities in addition to coins.
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  20. Bradley Trotter

    Bradley Trotter Supporter! Supporter

    That sure beats paying eBay/coin show prices.
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  21. Milesofwho

    Milesofwho Omnivorous collector

    Being a fan of Japanese coins I think it would be interesting to be able to purchase them in person at Ginza. However I feel like I would have the same problem in Paris, knowing only the names of what I wanted and nothing else.
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