A new monetary system is mandatory to terminate the archaic coinage of the Tokugawa period. The name of the new currency, the yen simply meaning 'round coin', clearly demonstrates the extent of the Japanese delay behind the other currencies in the world. The final closure of the British mint in Hong Kong in 1868 is a boon for the Japanese who acquire this excellent production equipment and install it in Osaka.
Pattern coins are made in Meiji year 3. The gold coins of 20 yen and 10 yen are convincing. Their figures, with on one side dragons centered within a perimeter of inscriptions and on the other side a radiant sun flanked by banners and chrysanthemums, will be reused for several years. The new system becomes official in Meiji year 4.
A prestigious release of proof coins is carried out in Meiji year 13, 1880 of our calendar, including in small quantities all the denominations in gold, silver and copper except the very small rin worth one thousandth of a yen. This set of 13 varieties was certainly intended for remaining as groups for the use of presentation. No complete set has been kept in private hands and the individual coins have become scarce due to the meltings linked to the tragic events of the 20th century.
The two largest gold coins are the most interesting. The collection of Dr. Jacobs, dispersed by Heritage in September 2011, included a 20 yen year 13 graded PF 63 by NGC that sold for $ 230K including premium, and a 10 yen year 13 in same grade, sold for $ 253K including premium.
A collector gathered 11 coins year 13 among the possible 13. This collection is dispersed by Heritage in New York on January 9. The 20 yen graded PF 64 Cameo by NGC is estimated $ 180K, lot 34340. The 10 yen in the same magnificent grade is estimated $ 150K, lot 34339.
Lot 34338 is the highly rare 1880 5 yen. It is graded PF65 Cameo by NGC and estimated $ 150K.
RESULTS INCLUDING PREMIUM :
20 yen : $ 305K
10 yen : $ 270K
5 yen : $ 118K