Book details Japanese coins in British Museum

Catalog details history of the coin collection, including its formation
Published : 07/06/12
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The British Museum’s collection of Japanese coins, is the subject of a new book.

The book, Catalogue of the Japanese Coin Collection at the British Museum, is the first catalog of the British Museum’s collection of Japanese coins.

Many of the coins were originally in the collection of Japanese numismatist and collector Kutsuki Masatsuna (1750 to 1802) and were acquired by the British Museum in the 1880s.

At the same time as Masatsuna was building his collection in the 18th century, European scholars were also visiting Japan, paying particular attention to coins and botany as they sought to gain knowledge and understanding.

Details of each coin are given, along with color illustrations. Where appropriate, the text is in both English and Japanese.

The book features a history of the Japanese coin collection at the British Museum, as well as explaining how Masatsuna’s coins came to the museum. This history is authored by Helen Wang, curator of East Asian Money at the British Museum.

Timon Screech, professor in the history of art, School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London, explores Masatsuna’s life in the book.

Shin’ichi Sakuraki, professor at Shimonoseki City University, and Nobuhisa Furuta, former chief researcher at the Institute for Oriental Currency in Sapporo, tell of Masatsuna as a collector and numismatist.

Sakuraki also presents a brief history of pre-modern Japanese coinage, while Peter Kornicki, professor of East Asian studies, University of Cambridge, follows European interest in Japanese coins before 1853.

The collection of pre-Meiji coins is presented by Sakuraki and Furuta, and is edited by Wang, Kornicki and Joe Cribb, keeper of the museum’s Department of Coins and Medals.

Cribb also authored the foreword.

The 224-page softcover book measures 11.7 inches by 8.26 inches and features 86 color plates.

It also includes a bibliography of Japanese numismatics.

The book retails for £40 through the British Museum Shop, found at The firm’s price is $80, plus shipping and handling.

It is also available from U.S. bookseller David Brown Book Co.

To order from the U.S. dealer, write to the firm at P.O. Box 511, Oakville, CT 06779, telephone it at 800-791-9354, email it at or visit its website, ■

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