JAPAN Paper Money,
Central Bank of Western India, 1866 Issue


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4.1.1859 - 29.8.1866

Printer: Batho Sprague & Co.

JAPAN Banknotes, Central Bank of Western India, 1866 Issues

State of Japan

State of Japan established in 1392; 12.2.1603 Tokugawa clan assumes the Shogunate

P.S224a  25 Dollars 9.2.1866   CM
On 4 January 1868  the Shogunate was abolished

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The above banknote was issued by the Central Bank of Western India at Yokohama, Japan. It was printed in London by Batho Sprague and Company and has a handwritten date of 9th February 1866. The signature on the note was that of J. Morrison and the design contains a vignette of a woman holding a balance scale, palm trees, cotton bales, jewelry  and a backdrop of hills and sailing ships. The note is cancelled with a rubber stamp.

A bank named BANK OF WESTERN INDIA, which operated during the period of 1842-1845 A.D. was not related to this issue.

The Central Bank of Western India was an important bank because it related to Japan, America and India. The high value of $25 was significant as it was issued during a time of great turbulence in Japan.

During this period there were a number of attempts by western powers to establish relations with Japan. In 1852 the USA government decided to initiate trade relations with Japan and was prepared to use force if negotiation failed. Commodore Matthew Perry was sent on a mission with three steam ships, the Mississippi, Saratogo and Plymouth along with a flag ship named Susquehanna. They sailed to Japan on 8th July 1853 entering Edo Bay they anchored at a distance of 1 kilometer from Uraga City but the Japanese Shogun declined to meet the delegation of commander Perry. After threatening the Japanese government they landed with 300 men and transmitted a message from U.S. President Fillmore to the representatives of shogun.
It took more than 6 month of consideration by the Japanese government and Perry's treaty of friendship was signed by Japan on March 31st of 1854, opening Japanese ports for U.S. trade. Nagasaki and Hakodate were the first ports used followed later by Yokohama. Yokohama became a main port and transit point for goods into Japan, China and the other countries in the region.

During this period the British Crown cooperated with the Americans as the Japanese started building their fleet after lifting a ban for the construction of large ships. They purchased many ships guns and arms from the Dutch to counter the American ships.

In this new environment, traders from Western India sailed from the ports of Surat and Bombay. Along with the U.S. traders they agreed to start a bank at Yokohama, Japan under the name of THE CENTRAL BANK OF WESTERN INDIA with a branch in Hong Kong. These notes are known to have circulated in Japan and China.
At this time most banknotes were issued by Commercial Banks rather than by a Central Bank. Regulations for banknote issue in nineteenth-century Japan and China were loosely controlled. The government accepted payments for taxes and fees in banknotes only if from banks incorporated by Royal Charter or under the Colonial Regulations. This requirement did not prevent other banks from issuing notes, however, banknotes of denominations below $5 were not allowed without special government permission. This was to prevent banknotes getting into the hands of poorer people, who would suffer more in the event of a bank collapse. Three note issuing banks did, in fact, collapse in the nineteenth century, the Agra and Masterman's Bank, the Commercial Bank Corporation of India and the East during the global financial crisis of 1866, as well as the Oriental Bank Corporation, one of the main note issuers in 1884.

CM  We gratefully acknowledge Changmus Mus who provided the above image and background information.