Tensho oban (天正大判)

The Tensho oban is a type of oban (large monetary gold plate in the shape of a flat oval) that had been struck by the Goto family, time-honored craftsmen of gold, mainly by order of the Toyotomi family since the Azuchi Momoyama period until the early Edo period; it is considered to have been minted first in 1588, and the well-known 'Tensho hishi oban', 'Tensho naga oban' and 'Daibutsu oban' are categorized under it.

Overview

The mass of a Tensho oban was to be the same as a Kin (plate of gold), equivalent to kyome (unit of weight of Kin) ten ryo (a unit of weight), as well as forty-four monme (a monetary unit), however, counting loss during the process of finishing, re-dyeing and wear during circulation, it was regularly minted of the equivalent gold to forty-four monme two bu (forty-four monme is about 165g, forty-four monme two bu is about 173.25g). The Tensho oban's characteristic is tsuchime (streaks made when craftsmen beat it) on the surface.

It is considered to have circulated in the early Edo period as well as 'the Keicho oban', and it was abolished in 1695.

Tensho hishi oban

At the middle of the front, the names of the monetary unit and the craftsman's Kao (a stylized signature) are written in ink as 'Ten ryo Goto'; at the upper right, the name of the era is written also in ink such as 'Tensho sixteen (the sixteenth year of Tensho era)'; at the top, one Kiwamein (hallmark) of paulownia in a diamond ('hishi') is stamped; and at the bottom, two same Kiwamein are stamped; therefore it is called 'Tensho hishi oban', however, some of those have one Kiwamein of paulownia in a circle at the top and one same Kiwamein at the bottom, instead of three Kiwamein of paulownia in a diamond. On the back, there is no Kiwamein. For the trace of additional gold at the middle of the bottom, it is considered that craftsmen added some gold to the past current coin which has been called Yuzuriha Kin (the shape and the period in which it was minted are unknown) to adjust its weight. Its weight and flat oval shape are the same as the Tensho naga oban, however its size is smaller than the Tensho naga oban.

The ink scripts are recognized to be of Yutoku GOTO (the fourth craftsman of the Goto family) and Tokujo GOTO (the fifth craftsman). Although there remain other Tensho hishi oban which were minted in the seventeenth and nineteenth year of Tensho era, at present Tensho hishi oban is very rare, and some of those are displayed in Currency Museum, Mint Museum and so on.

Tensho naga oban

On the front, the name of the monetary unit and Tokujo GOTO (the fifth craftsman)'s Kao are written in ink as 'ten ryo Goto', the name of the era isn't written, and the Kiwamein of paulownia in a circle is stamped at the top, the bottom, the right and the left. At the middle of the back, it has the Kiwamein of paulownia in a circle, the Kiwamein of paulownia in a hexagon, and the Kao; some of those don't have a hexagon. Larger oban length of more than 17cm in length are called 'naga oban' (long oban).

Based on its impressive big size, some historians consider that the Tensho naga oban were used when Hideyoshi TOYOTOMI generously gave away money to lords and court nobles in May 1589 (according to old lunar calendar, that event is called 'Taiko no Kanekubari'), however, that theory is doubtful because Tensho naga oban was minted first in 1595.

Some historians also consider that 'the Omodaka oban' was minted by order of Terumoto MORI whom Hideyoshi permitted to mint using the Goto family; the theory is based on the mark at the middle of the back of the oban, such as the Mori family's crest of Omodaka (a swamp plant), the Goto family's Kamon of paulownia in a hexagon and Goto's Kao; however, there is no positive proof for the theory yet.

It is presumed that the number of the Tensho naga oban minted during the period from June 1595 until March 1597 was about 30,000; and during the period from April 1598 until March 1600, 23,963 oban were minted.

Daibutsu oban

Its style is the same as the Tensho naga oban; on the front, the name of the monetary unit and Tokujo GOTO (the fifth craftsman)'s Kao is written in ink as 'ten ryo Goto'; and a little bigger Kiwamein of paulownia in a circle is stamped at the top, the bottom, the right and the left; some of those have a kanji character '大(big)' in ink at the upper right on the front. At the middle of the back, it has the Kiwamein of paulownia in a circle, the Kiwamein of paulownia in a hexagon and the Kao. Its shape is a little less roundish oval and its length is shorter than the Tensho naga oban. More of these remain than of the other Tensho oban.

Hideyori TOYOTOMI ordered its minting to pay for re-erecting the Daibutsu of Hoko-ji Temple in Kyoto, and it was minted during the period from November 1608 until February 1612, therefore those oban are called 'Daibutsu oban'; in fact it is considered to be a product which Ieyasu TOKUGAWA had ordered Hideyori to re-erect the Daibutsu for the purpose of making Hideyori consume the Toyotomi family's huge assets. Although during the same period, 'the Keicho oban' had been minted as well, the Daibutsu oban is categorized into the Tensho oban because it was minted by the order of the Toyotomi family.

For its mintage, the Toyotomi family consumed seventeen Nisenmai-fundo (columnar block of gold weighing 330kg) and eleven Senmai-fundo (columnar block of gold weighing 165kg) which had been stored in Osaka-jo Castle.