No. 284.
Mr. D. W. Stevens to Mr. Evarts.

No. 16.]

Sir: I have the honor to inclose for your information duplicate copies of the report of the commissioner of the imperial mint at Osaka, Japan, for the year ending June 30, 1878. The total value of the coinage at the mint from its establishment to the above date is, yen 82,785,397.63.

During the present year the principal coinage has been of silver and copper, the amounts being, silver, yen 4,031,345.75, and copper, yen 959,406.43; while gold was coined only to the amount of yen 357,578.

These figures indicate progress in the substitution of coins of modern design and neat finish for the subsidiary copper coinage which was in former times almost the only metallic currency in active use.

The large foreign staff under whom the mint was inaugurated, all of whom were Englishmen, has been reduced to two persons only, an assayer and an engineer.

On page 24 of the report you will observe a notification by His Excellency Sanjo Saneyashi, prime minister, dated the 25th of last May, to the effect that the trade-dollar is made a legal tender within this empire for all public and private transactions. The coin referred to is of the same standard as our own trade dollar (420 grains and 900 fineness), and upon its introduction to the Eastern market met with a similar reception. It has been forced out of circulation by the inferior Mexican dollar, and instead of becoming a general medium of exchange for the trade of the East, has found its way to the melting pot almost before it began to serve the purposes of money.

Apparently not discouraged by this failure to introduce into circulation a reliable coin for the use of commerce, the Japanese Government, as shown by Mr. Sanjo’s notification of the 25th of May, endeavored to insure the domestic circulation of their trade-dollar. But here, also, and in a very short time, they have met with disappointment.

On the 30th of last month Mr. Sanjo issued a second proclamation, wherein it is announced that the trade-dollar is withdrawn from circulation and the silver one yen piece substituted. The one yen piece was first coined in 1874, and was of the same standard as the best Mexican dollar, viz, 416 grains (minimum), 900 fineness. Although this coin was rapidly coming into general circulation, the government, for some unexplained reason, ceased its coinage in 1875 and issued the trade dollar of 420 grains.

As intimated, this latter coin has been under the disadvantage of competition with an inferior dollar, and has, in consequence, been of little use as a medium of exchange. By coining in its stead a dollar of fine appearance and approved standard, but not so much more valuable than the Mexican dollar as to make its conversion into bullion profitable, the Japanese Government has rendered a great service to commerce in the East.

The Mexican dollar of clumsy pattern and varying design, counterfeited both at home and in the East, fluctuating in value as a favorite object of speculation, has become a hinderance rather than an aid to trade. If the Japanese Government succeeds in substituting for it a reliable coin, which shall not vary in value at different hours of the day, as suits the interest or whim of Chinese “shroffs” and “compradores,” [Page 617] it will have conferred a substantial benefit upon all nations trading in the East, and will have ended, as well, one of the most vexatious of the petty annoyances of life in China and Japan.

I have, &c.,