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Kasemacher
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PostPosted: Fri Mar 09, 2007 3:41 am    Post subject: Value of Armour Reply with quote
I was hoping someone could help me figure out how much it'd cost to produce/buy different kinds of armor. So far, I've found comparisons as saying it being worth as much as a small village or the equivalent of a private jet today.

Please, anyone have an answer to my question? Also, to clarify, I'm not asking for the price I'd pay to buy armor. How much was it back then? Please tell me, if you can, in a currency I can work with. I.e. "Fine o-yoroi armor cost 40,000 rubles.
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PostPosted: Wed Mar 14, 2007 7:23 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
This should probably be in the Arms and Armor section.

Where is everyone on this one? I would have thought someone would have answered this by now.

I'll take a stab at it. I suppose the cost and way of purchasing or obtaining armor would differ depending on the period and rank of the samurai. I mean, different samurai wore different armor for different reasons. Armor during any era was worth a lot and the finer the craftsmanship and more the pieces, the higher the value obviously. I'm sorry, but I can't tell you the exact price or worth of certain items or complete sets of armor during different periods. Maybe someone on here(there must be someone that knows) will be kind enough to step up. Japanese armor for a wealthy daimyo could most likely have been worth quite a lot but I doubt if its comparable to a private jet; maybe in some extreme cases. Japanese armor comes in such a crazy variety, I wouldn't be surprised if some was almost worthless and others worth more than anything. I'm not sure, but I believe that swords and armor during times of war like the Sengoku period must have been worth less and perhaps in many cases been of somewhat lower quality due to the high demand and supply whereas in the Edo period armor and especially swords would have decreased in demand and increased in quality as well as price. I can only guess.(my degree is in Finance Cool ).
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Kasemacher
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PostPosted: Wed Mar 14, 2007 3:10 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
Alright, thanks. I figured it'd be difficult to get a price list. I put it in the history section since it appeared that this forum was more about the construction and purchase of arms and armor.
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PostPosted: Wed Mar 14, 2007 3:17 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
Kasemacher wrote:
Alright, thanks. I figured it'd be difficult to get a price list. I put it in the history section since it appeared that this forum was more about the construction and purchase of arms and armor.


I'm sorry I can't be more helpful. I know someone on here would be able to give you a better answer. All I know is that armor would be priced in koku which is how Japanese people in feudal times basically calculated money. A koku is basically enough rice to feed a man for a year. Somewhere on this forum I once posted a similar question about the cost and worth of swords. I was looking for where I said it for you but I can't find it. The only help I can give is that good armor would probably be worth some value in koku. Now what the rates in koku translate in today's money would differ I'm sure depending on the period. I'm also not entirely sure what the spending value of koku or other lower forms of feudal age Japanese currency would have been. I mean, gold in those days had a different actual spending value long ago. In other words, I don't know how much you could actually get for it. I'm curious myself. I would actually love to know what currency would pay for what and what was considered a LOT of money in those days. Anyway, I hope I was helpful in some way.
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Kasemacher
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PostPosted: Wed Mar 14, 2007 3:32 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
Well, I was actually hoping for the price to be in koku, or in one of the coins used. (Sen, Mon, Ryo, whatever)

I remember seeing a thread on someone asking how much a ronin could expect to be paid when selling their swords.
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PostPosted: Wed Mar 14, 2007 3:37 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
Kasemacher wrote:
Well, I was actually hoping for the price to be in koku, or in one of the coins used. (Sen, Mon, Ryo, whatever)

I remember seeing a thread on someone asking how much a ronin could expect to be paid when selling their swords.


Yeah, that's what I was talking about. Now that you mention it, it was probably the Hidden Blade topic in the Samurai Film section.
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PostPosted: Wed Mar 14, 2007 4:09 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
Here's that thread.
http://forums.samurai-archives.com/viewtopic.php?t=1423

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PostPosted: Wed Mar 14, 2007 4:13 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
shin no sen wrote:
Here's that thread.
http://forums.samurai-archives.com/viewtopic.php?t=1423

John


Nice. I still wonder what the spending value of the currency swords and armor was worth was in comparison to modern currency.(aside from being a student of history I'm also a student of business Wink )
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PostPosted: Thu Mar 15, 2007 9:28 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
I'm afraid that's something I've never really studied.

I learned the how, what, and why of armour, not the payscale. But like everything, there were variations on quality. You could buy the Hyundai (armour), or the Rolls Royce (armour), with varying levels of workmanship, decoration, quality, etc, but ultimately they are both cars (armours).


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PostPosted: Thu Mar 15, 2007 2:44 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
I figured as much. Any idea on what the range would be for armor of swords? Trying to figure how much these cost historically is very difficult because it would have to had been recorded in a lot of detail.

"He bought a kabuto with (details) made by (armorer) from (materials) which he paid (cost)" To get any idea how much something like that would have cost.
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PostPosted: Thu Mar 15, 2007 3:17 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
shin no sen wrote:
Old appraisals such as done by the Hon'ami family will quote value in terms of gold pieces. A high quality sword would be around 100 gold pieces. That converted to tael weight and then to koku is the amount of rice that could support 100 people for 1 year. It has been quoted somewhere that a set of armour, not part armour like ashigaru but a full kit, was the approximate value of a small village, land, lock, stock and barrel. …when I was a teenager gold was around $20 an ounce, now 20 times that. Japan was actually gold poor and siver was traded for gold. It is all relative, and that is where relating it to the rice needed by one person for a year is related. How much in modern terms. What say, $2000 to feed a person for a year if they eat frugally, x 100, $200,000. That is what a quality sword is today as well. $60000 to $200000. Some of us that collect had a discussion about this and Japanese metalwork is good value today. Absolute beatiful pieces for $12000 to $20000 for good quality swords. Some fittings of good quality $2000 to $3000. Though they can reach dizzying heights $20000 to $30000. The emphasis is art today and will skew relative value. Best I can do to relate it to today. John


Shazam! Wink Shin knows what he's talkin 'bout. Does that answer your question?
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PostPosted: Fri Mar 16, 2007 5:01 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
That'd work if each koku fed a family the same way as $2000 does. Was looking less for a dollar amount and moreso for the currency of the time (koku). Also, I'd need an estimate for armor moreso than I would for weapons. However, thanks anyway.
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PostPosted: Fri Mar 16, 2007 6:31 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
Kasemacher wrote:
That'd work if each koku fed a family the same way as $2000 does. Was looking less for a dollar amount and moreso for the currency of the time (koku). Also, I'd need an estimate for armor moreso than I would for weapons. However, thanks anyway.


Oh well, I gave it a shot. That's kind of a tough question to answer. If there is a source somewhere that says how much someone spent to get anew suit of armor, then you could just find out how much what they spent is worth in modern currency. I just don't know where to find something like that. I'm sure some book about armor must have something like that.
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PostPosted: Fri Mar 16, 2007 7:23 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
I have some feelers out but that just doesn't come up, but there may be a source somewhere. John
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PostPosted: Fri Mar 16, 2007 4:58 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
OK, Some info in. Inami Hakusai wrote that Kotetsu (a well renowned smith of the shinto period) sold his swords for 100 ryo (18 grams of gold: coin). At that time 100 ryo could buy 600 koku of rice. A Yoriki's wage was 200 koku a year. 3 years pay for him. Nothing on armour yet. 'from Mr. Guido Schiller', John
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PostPosted: Sun Mar 18, 2007 1:47 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
Alright, at least we have that info! That's awesome. If you happen to run into similar info for armor, please let me know.
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PostPosted: Sat Oct 24, 2009 12:45 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
Check out this link to yesterday's Christie's auction for some jaw dropping prices for arms and armor. The top set went for a little more than 600 000 USD and the whole lot went for $2.7 million. Even if you only want a tsuba, you'd better start saving ($3000-7000). You could also spend the same amount for one of Ryoma's poems. . .
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PostPosted: Sat Oct 24, 2009 2:25 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
Wow. There are some pretty impressive pieces in that catalog. Nice find.
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PostPosted: Sun Oct 25, 2009 4:26 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
shin no sen wrote:
OK, Some info in. Inami Hakusai wrote that Kotetsu (a well renowned smith of the shinto period) sold his swords for 100 ryo (18 grams of gold: coin). At that time 100 ryo could buy 600 koku of rice. A Yoriki's wage was 200 koku a year. 3 years pay for him. Nothing on armour yet. 'from Mr. Guido Schiller', John


I think that is roughly 1ryo=$585. Going by price per gram.


Last edited by maikeruart on Mon Oct 26, 2009 4:28 am; edited 1 time in total
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PostPosted: Sun Oct 25, 2009 5:17 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
At around $33 per gram and 18 grams per ryo and 100 ryo. $59,400. A little more in tune with Kotetsu. I wasn'tclear enough, I suppose. Sorry. John
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PostPosted: Mon Oct 26, 2009 4:28 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
shin no sen wrote:
At around $33 per gram and 18 grams per ryo and 100 ryo. $59,400. A little more in tune with Kotetsu. I wasn'tclear enough, I suppose. Sorry. John


I typed faster than my brain was going. But to put that in perspective, a middle class American in the 18th century would have to work roughly 110 years to purchase Kotetsu's work.
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PostPosted: Wed Mar 20, 2013 3:37 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
maikeruart wrote:

I typed faster than my brain was going. But to put that in perspective, a middle class American in the 18th century would have to work roughly 110 years to purchase Kotetsu's work.


Taking for comparison the "middle class American" of 18th century - how did the budget of 18th century Japan compare against the budget of 18th century USA or 18th century Great Britain?

Or take 17th century Japan, which unlike 18th century did fight major military campaigns.

The Long Parliament, in Great Rebellion, hired the New Model Army.

The promised pay was:
for an infantryman - 8 pence per day, meaning 12 pounds per year (1450 grams sterling silver per year)
for a cavalryman (Ironsides etc.) - 2 shillings per day, meaning 36 pounds per year (4400 grams sterling silver per year). The salary of a cavalryman had to cover upkeep of the horse AND providing their own horse to begin with.

What were the soldiers of Tokugawa and Toyotomi armies, respectively, paid for the Sieges of Osaka Castle?

Are there any records of the Shogunate or individual daimyo commissioning large batches of arms or armours for issue to their soldiers?
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PostPosted: Sun Aug 18, 2013 7:15 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
Thread Necromancy!

According to Conlan's "Weapons and Fighting Techniques of the Samurai Warrior, 1200-1877AD" the price of a horse was "about half the price of a suit of armor." Then states that a horse in the 14th century cost about three or four kan, IIRC 1 kan=1000 copper coins (so about 3000-4000 copper coins), or the equivalent of 3000-4000 US dollars, 1500-2000 British pounds (at the time the book was written).

So if a horse was about half the price of a suit of armor in the 14th century, then at that time a suit of armor should cost about 6-8 kan, or 6000-8000 copper coins, 6-8000 USD, 3-4000 GBP.

Doesn't totally answer the original question, but its a start.

EDIT: Off by a figure.
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