You read it here first - manhole covers as collectibles. See the links below for earlier E-Sylum articles on the topic. Be on the lookout for the
Whitman Guide Book of Manhole Covers. Here's an excerpt from an Atlas Obscura article on the populatity of Japan'scolorful mancover
In Japan's glittering cities, all hustle and light, they can be easy to miss. With all that sensory assault, who thinks to look down and take notice of
something as mundane as a manhole cover? But these are no ordinary bits of civic infrastructure. In Japan, many manhole covers are works of urban
art-elaborate, curious, distinctive, even colorful. They have become a tourist destination unto themselves, and attract a legion of dedicated manhole
enthusiasts who travel the country to visit some of the thousands of unique designs.
Japan's decorated manhole covers-broadly encompassing storm drain, domestic water supply, electrical and other utility access covers-initially took shape as
a public relations campaign for sewers. Beginning in the 1950s, the cast plates featured simple geometric patterns, such as the "Tokyo" and "Nagoya" designs.
Japanese civil servant Yasutake Kameda conceived of the intricate, artistic versions in 1985, to help warm a skeptical rural population to the idea of the
costly but necessary modernization of the country's sewer system. From these humble, practical beginnings, manhole covers have become a cultural
The ornate manhole covers are initially carved from aluminum, which is used to make sand molds for casting. The majority of the designs are selected by
local municipalities, in conjunction with manufacturers. In most cases, the design is just imprinted in the cover, but in some cases the covers get another
touch-colored resins flooded into voids like enamel on jewelry.
Such is the popularity of these little urban treasures that they have a devout, organized following. There is the industry-led Japan Ground Manhole
Association, and the fan-based Japanese Society of Manhole Covers, whose website features thousands of photographs submitted by users across Japan, who have
snapped everything from large sewer covers to tiny local utility access panels.
To read the complete article, see:
On the Hunt for Japan's Elaborate, Colorful Manhole Covers
To read the earlier E-Sylum articles, see:
THE E-SYLUM 2014 APRIL FOOL'S ISSUE (https://www.coinbooks.org/esylum_v17n15a17.html)
PAUL BOSCO ON MANHOLE COVERS AND NUMISMATICS (https://www.coinbooks.org/esylum_v17n16a30.html)
MANHOLE COVERS AS NUMISMATIC OBJECTS (https://www.coinbooks.org/v22/esylum_v22n08a07.html)
COMMEMORATIVE MANHOLE COVERS (https://www.coinbooks.org/v22/esylum_v22n09a11.html)
Wayne Homren, Editor
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