50th Anniversary of Japan’s First Commemorative Coin

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April 10, 2014 – Exactly 50 years ago, commemorative coins were issued for the first time in Japan to mark the Tokyo Olympic Games, which were held for 15 days in 1964, from October 10th to 24th.

The 100-yen commemorative coin. Source: Japan Mint.

One coin was a 100-yen commemorative coin made of .600 silver. In those days, unlike today, the 100-yen coin circulated in Japan was made of .600 silver and weighed 4.8 grams. All of the 80 million 100-yen coins that had been planned to be produced for circulation in 1964 were replaced by this commemorative silver coin for the Tokyo Olympic Games. However, this refers to the mint’s fiscal year 1964 which stretches from April 1964 to March 1965. Therefore in the year 1964 10 million 100-yen (ordinary) coins were actually produced.

The 1,000-yen silver coin. Source: Japan Mint.

The other coin was a 1,000-yen silver coin. It was a sterling silver coin with a diameter of 35 millimetres and weight of 20 grams. The production quantity reached as high as 15 million.
Both the 100-yen and 1,000-yen silver coins were distributed in exchange at their face values at financial institutions. They started to be exchanged over the counter at financial institutions from September 21st for the 100-yen silver coin, and from October 2 for the 1,000-yen silver coin.
Especially, on the day when the 1,000-yen coin was exchanged for the first time, long queues formed in front of financial institutions from early morning, and all of the 9.25 million coins prepared were soon exchanged. Also, just the next day of exchange, it was sold at a premium price in the secondary market. Just like that, the issue of these first commemorative coins triggered a coin collecting boom in Japan.
Before this Tokyo Olympic Games, one commemorative coin had been issued for the Helsinki Olympic Games in 1952. Also, in many different countries in the world, various commemorative coins had been issued up until then. Nevertheless, it can be said that these coins for the Tokyo Olympic Games, which were really the first commemorative coins in Japan, were very exceptional ones even from an international viewpoint because of the scale as well as the public response they received. Since the success of these 100-yen and 1,000-yen commemorative silver coins, commemorative coins have always been issued for every Olympic Games.

Japan Mint’s Mint Set 2014. Source: Japan Mint.

It also should be noted that, Japan Mint’s Mint Set 2014 takes up as its theme the 50th anniversary since these historically significant coins were issued, carrying the coins’ designs on its package.

For more information on Japan Mint and its products please go to the Mint’s website.