Japan Silver Yen

  • Debut mint: 1870
  • Weight: Depends on period of minting (26.9 – 27.22g)
  • Silver fineness: 0.900
  • Investment potential: Higher for 1879, 1878, 1875, and 1874 mints
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There exists a high level of investment potential in the collection of Japan Silver Yen coin, which is also known as the silver dragon yen. This is because it stands out as one of the most famous and preferred coin by any coin collectors today. The coin is minted and circulated by the 1871 Osaka-based, independent administrative institution, the Japan Mint.

The Japanese silver yen coin was minted in the periods 1870 through to 1914. It has a beautiful design and a strong historical value. Its introduction happened two years after Emperor Meiji was restored to the power seat. The need for new coins arose when Japan moved from the Tokugawa Shogunate old pre-decimal ryo currency to the yen. The new coins came primarily in silver because the government operated on the silver standard back them. This led to the minting of the thick and huge coin that weighed 26.96g (0.900 silver fineness).

Originally, the 1870 coin’s obverse design had a coiled dragon inside a beaded circle with the date and denomination inscriptions alongside many legends surrounding it. The reverse featured a predominantly huge sunburst. Production was halted between 1874 and 1875 and a new design containing the text, “416 · ONE YEN · 900” between the two beaded circles and below the dragon image on the obverse were introduced for foreign trade exclusively. Minting stopped briefly between 1875 and 1877. This was followed by the introduction of the 27.22g trade dollar with the inscription, “420 GRAINS • TRADE DOLLAR • 900 FINE” on the obverse and “Trade Dollar” in Japanese on the reverse. The minting lasted until 1914 without production of other silver coins.

There were also smaller silver coins in denominations of 50, 20, and 10 Yen with silver fineness of between 0.720 and 0.800 that were minted from 1873 going forward. The Japanese silver yen is not very rare, but the 1879, 1878, 1875, and 1874 mints are a bit more valuable and have the potential of trading in excess of US$1000. The Trade Dollar mints of the Japanese silver yen coin as well as the original 1870 mints will sell for hundreds of US dollars.

Additional information


Silver Ag 900

Country of Origin



1 Yen, 10 Yen, 2 Yen, 20 Yen, 5 Yen, 50 Yen




Japan Mint

Pure Silver Content