What just happened?

To celebrate Vikings Live, we have replaced our Roman alphabet with the runic alphabet used by the Vikings, the Scandinavian ‘Younger Futhark’. The ‘Younger Futhark’ has only 16 letters, so we have used some of the runic letters more than once or combined two runes for one Roman letter.

For an excellent introduction to runes, we recommend Martin Findell’s book published by British Museum Press.

More information about how we have ‘runified’ this site


Collection online

Additional options
Production date to

Or search by


oban / coin

  • Object type

  • Museum number


  • Denomination

    • ryo, 10
  • Description

    Gold oban. Gold 10 ounce (ryo) oban with an inscription in ink, and four stamps on the obverse; on the reverse there are three stamps running down the middle with three smaller stamps to the lower left.

  • Authority

  • Culture/period

  • Date

    • 1860
  • Production place

  • Materials

  • Dimensions

    • Height: 134 millimetres
    • Width: 81 millimetres
    • Weight: 102.93 grammes (?)
    • Weight: 113.13 grammes (object weighed 31/7/08)
  • Inscriptions

      • Inscription Type

      • Inscription Position

      • Inscription Language

      • Inscription Transliteration

        Man'en oban
      • Inscription Translation

        Large coin of the Man'en era
  • Curator's comments

    Ôban were made of hammered gold with a face value of 10 ryô (ounces). The word ôban means 'large stamped [piece]' in Japanese. The earliest ôban were made in the 1580s, when the feudal lord Toyotomi Hideyoshi (1536/7-98) co-operated with wealthy merchants in the Kansai district of central Japan and monopolized Japan's metal mines. He then began to mint gold coins of fixed quality.

    The earliest ôban had no inscription - ideal for forgers. To overcome this problem, inscriptions and stamp marks were added. By 1586, the value of the ôban and the signature of the Goto family (the hereditary superintendents of the mint) were handwritten in ink on the front of the ôban. A flower stamp (hanaoshi) was also impressed on the surface. The stamp featured the crest of the paulownia flower (kiri) crest, which was later used in official government and imperial seals.The error in the printed Catalogue of Japanese Coins at the British Museum (2010) was corrected in the online publication (2012) to read 980 万延大判(吉宇き) Man'en oban ~ Gold 113.13 134×81.


  • Bibliography

    • Smith et al 1990 125 n bibliographic details
    • Sakuraki et al. 2010 980 bibliographic details
  • Conservation

    See treatments 

    Treatment date

    3 January 1997

    Treatment proposal

    Clean coin.


    Dirty with some small ares of sealing wax.

    Treatment details

    Swabbed with IMS. Brushed lightly with a soft bristle brush.

    About these records 

  • Acquisition name

  • Acquisition date


  • Acquisition notes

    One of 52 obejcts acquired.

  • Department

    Coins & Medals

  • Registration number


  • Additional IDs

    • HSBC.485 (Money Gallery Exhibited)


If you’ve noticed a mistake or have any further information about this object, please email: collectiondatabase@britishmuseum.org 

View open data for this object with SPARQL endpoint

Object reference number: COC110

British Museum collection data is also available in the W3C open data standard, RDF, allowing it to join and relate to a growing body of linked data published by organisations around the world.

View this object

Support the Museum:
donate online

The Museum makes its collection database available to be used by scholars around the world. Donations will help support curatorial, documentation and digitisation projects.

About the database

The British Museum collection database is a work in progress. New records, updates and images are added every week.

More about the database 


Work on this database is supported by a range of sponsors, donors and volunteers.

More about supporters and how you
can help