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The Pobjoy Mint Die Marks (or batch codes): A B C D E & F


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The Pobjoy Mint Die Marks A B C D E and F**

Today, we are going to talk about so-called die marks, invented by the Pobjoy mint in 1973 on gold coins and presented on Isle of Man coins. They (the Mint, hereafter) have got the contract in 1972. A little bit background of the Pobjoy family, they had a airmotors company ltd and had strong background of engineering before stepping into this business. This business is very profitable like BBC Archive (2018) said a business without cash flow. According to MacKay (1978, p.63), “the first contract, with a value in excess of £5 million, came from the Bolivian Government, and was soon followed by similar contracts with the governments of the Isle of Man and Senegal.” How profitable is it, let us break it down. If you are familiar with financial sector like hedge fund managers, a rule of 2-20 with a value of £5 million works here, meaning 2% is for asset management fee and 20% of your profit on your asset.

A singular letter, for instance, A or B or C or D or E etc, is only used on precious metals like gold, then expanding on silver. The purpose of carrying a die mark on is to identify the particular die used in striking that coin. Now, let we have a look what singular die marks are, for the purpose of illustration of the die marks seen as follows:

  • Ancient Hiberno-Norse lettering
  • Note: sequences are in alphabetical from A to E. A very special die mark ‘X’ was defaced personally by William Dawson then the Tynwald Treasurer in 1974. Base metals in BU finish grade have double letters in association with the Prefix A, and in proof finish grade also have two letters with the Prefix B. “[p.82]… The dies used in striking proof and uncirculated versions of coins in precious metals have a single letter beginning with B, C, D and so on. The first letter or letters in each group (i.e., AA, BB or B), was used on dies which struck coins on 14th July 1978 only, the First Day of Minting (FDM) (MacKay, 1978).”

At this point, we can understand a singular die mark has no particular meaning but just for coin traces in order for identifying a die used in striking that coin. Most importantly, it is the concept of FDM.

  • D — left from 1978 (£1), right from 1979 (50p, Royal Visit) (Silver)
  • E — left from 1978 (£1), right from 1979 (50p, Royal Visit) (Silver)
  • F — left from 1978 (£1), right from 1979 (50p, Royal Visit) (Silver)
  • Note: £1 silver coins with a letter started in 1978, and it was the first pound coin in British decimalisation system. Given 1975 (50p) and 1976 (50p) in contrast, the two years had BU finish in perspex set only. However, the 1977 (50p) and 1978 (50p) ones were proof finish in velvet set only. The four sets mentioned here had no any die marks due to pre-1979. On the basis of the die marks D, E and F, at first glance, D die coin and E die coin they have a similar proof finish between the £1 coins ([D = E] > F). Secondly, E die coin has the best finish, and the lowest is F die coin among 50p coins where come from the Royal Visit IOM series (E > D > F). At this point, the F die letter it is understood to trace Satin Finish on coins either £1 or 50p.

Later on, to commemorating IOM £1 round coin on a base metal specifically Virenium, a 2-digit letter (BC) was revealed in 1978 as well. Based on information above, it has just been verified that Prefix B is equivalent to proof finish in grade (please see IOM £1 round coin or Die Marks BC article), this is a very solid point. This point also can be understood that a 2-digit letter is used to strike coins on base metals like virenium, copper-nickel (CN). Thirdly, it is understood that the sequence of C has the meaning of commemorative or celebrating by Tynwald.

From £1 coin below, you are able to see a). AA, BB and BC as a set and b). AA, AB, AC and AD as a subset from a).:

  • AA from 1978 (£1) (Virenium, FDM)
    • AA from 1978 (£1) (Virenium, FDM) & AB from 1978 (£1) (Virenium)
    • AC from 1978 (£1) (Virenium) & AD from 1978 (£1) (Virenium)
  • BB from 1978 (£1) (Virenium, FDM)
    • BC from 1978 (£1) (Virenium, Special Commemorative type)

From 50p coin below, you are able to see:

  • AA from 1979 50p coins (FDM)
  • Note: edge lettering noted.

  • AB from 1979 50p coins
  • AC from 1979 50p coins*
  • *Note: left one, it was for New York Show in 1980 and edge lettering noted. You see it right now because they just made this gap to fit in this one. left: library finish & right: prooflike finish.

  • AD from 1979 50p coins
  • Note: edge lettering noted.

Note: a base-metal coin like CN 50p coin associated with die mark started in 1979. But, 1979 it was really important the year to Tynwald. A very interesting point, pictures above show many different finish 50p coins under Prefix A. However, there is no any 50p coins under Prefix B in comparison to £1 coin.

Beyond this point, you are going to see a 2-same-digit die mark coin like BB, DD and AA.

  • 1980 BB — IOM Xmas 50p coin (FDM)
  • Note: a very interesting set of two coins, because carrying the same die mark but different grades in finish. If a lower grade BB coin is considered FDM, what about BB in higher grade? And BC??? Can not see continuity. It is highly likely the Pobjoy own product. At this point, the BA die mark is making more sense now.

  • 1980 DD — IOM Proof set coin (FDM)*
  • *Note:The BB has been used on commercial commemorative coins, the only choice left is to choose the DD. It is understood from citing on Krause book foot note that they declare the BC as diamond finish in grade not the BB or the DD. A question unsolved now what the correlation between the F die letter and No die letter (ND) finish?

  • 1980 AA — IOM currency 50p coin (FDM)

Right now, you can clearly see that a group of 2-digit die marks indicates different finishes like BB, DD and FF have a superb finish in grade. Associated with different die marks, you are able to see different finishes on coins. It is hard to say the correlation among them, but, based on things we have known already, metrics [A, C, E] and [B, D, F] are created.

A C E
B D F

**Reference
BBC Archive (08, Oct 2018), #OnThisDay 1978, [Adapted on 15th, Nov 2018].

MacKay, J.A. (1978), The Pobjoy Encyclopaedia of Isle of Man Coins and Tokens (2nd ed.). Surrey, England: The Pobjoy Mint.


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Isle of Man Christmas Fifty Pence Coin with BA Die Marks


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Die marks (AA & BA) on IoM Xmas Fifty pence coins over the period of 1985 to 2016

In this part, we keep our focus on die marks of the AA and the BA in the Xmas series over the period of 1985 to 2016 especially the years 1988, 2004 and 2016. In depth, we talk over three cases on the purpose of illustration of the meaning and existence of the BA die marks. The three cases are 1988 (BA), 2004 (BA) and 2016 (BA), and named Case I, Case II and Case III respectively. For an easy understanding, the correct order when you read through this part follows Case III, Case I and Case II in order. Because Case III is only the clue for the mystery of the BA die marks.

The AA die marks are symbolised for circulating commemorative 50p coins as this kind is categorised under the Prefix A, and the BB die letters only for (non-circulating) commemorative 50p coins as this kind is categorised under the Prefix B (die letters and die marks are interchangeable). The die-letter is sort of different combinations between a prefixion (i.e., 1st letter) and a alphabetic sequence (i.e., 2nd letter). This forms a group of die letters (i.e., AA, AB, BA, BB and so on). In terms of circulating/non-circulating commemorative coins, you could understand the phase from the perspective of the cost of production. In other words, the more money you pay for a coin in price the more details you see on the coin. The ones bearing the BA are sort of a mixture between the AA ones and the BB ones (see Case I). After a read, you will have a sense of that the IOM Xmas theme products are the Pobjoy mint their own product just like raised a new-born baby in 1980 to present date, if you really know IoM 50p coins well.

Three cases mentioned above are showing in follows:

Case I,
Die marks in 1985 onwards were much simpler than before and in a pattern, and the New portrait made by (Raphael D. Maklouf RA, the 3rd royal coin effigy) was set to be used this year. The BA die marks appeared first time is in 1988. Given a fact that circulating commemorative coins Viking boats were taking off instead Personal computers on the reverse side in 1988. So, it is a question to ask why (the BA) appears not before (i.e., in 1987) or after (i.e., in 1989), but the BA die letters only exist in 1988? Probably, the Mint managed to put the IOM Xmas 50p theme back on track when Tynwald a). allowed them to use a new reverse side (?), b). cut the Xmas theme lose like T.T. 50p coins in 1980s (!). More importantly, the coin’s quality was downgraded internally by the Mint. You can think this like a couple in a good relationship.

However, the BA die letters have a meaningful expression in depth, “Back Again with a lowered quality”, Loud and Clear! The expression was saying “I [the IOM Xmas series] am coming back again, but I will be created differently” (support evidence a Manx cat in 1987 and 2004 and BA in 1988).

The BA die letters are alive on the Xmas theme series first time and the Xmas series is re-born on earth. However, one significant clue appeared on 1987 ones. You probably notice that a Manx cat is facing towards the main object. In other words, you only can see side view of the smaller object which is the back of the cat in front of you. Later soon, the BA die letters came out and published in 1988. Ironically, the die letters indicate a broken heart with sadness LIGHTLY each other.

  • 1988 BA die letters 50p coin.
  • 1988 BB die letters 50p coin (in comparison with the BB and AA die letters).
  • 1988 AA die letters 50p coin (in comparison with the BB and AA die letters).

Case II,
BA die marks on 2004 Xmas 50p coins, it is really unbelievable to keep your eyes peeled widely, especially with the object of the Laxey Water Wheel. It was the 150th Anniversary of the Laxey Water Wheel in 2004. The Wheel is a landmark on the island. Is the water wheel related to anything with Xmas? No, No, No!!! The water wheel appears on 5p coins in 1976 first time when UK introduced decimal coins in 1971. A little background about 1976, the Pobjoy mint was able to design the reverse side on their own first time. For the period of 1972 to 1975, it was still using dies obtained from the RM previously. The main object of 2004 Xmas 50p coins was the Laxey water wheel with snowflakes around it and a smaller object was the Manx cat.

Notable in 2003, mintage of the Xmas theme was cut to 10k from 30k suddenly with famous amination the snowman published in 1978. Why the mint lets the mintage be only 10k this year, and chooses commercialization on 50p coins in 2003? Somehow, the IoM Xmas theme was dying in 2003. Finally, the water wheel and the BA answered it, dead or not in 2004.

  • 2004 BA die letters 50p coin.
  • 2004 ND die letters 50p coin (in comparison with the ND and AA die letters).
  • 2004 AA die letters 50p coin (in comparison with the ND and AA die letters).

A notable smaller object, a Manx cat sitting on a hill towards the water wheel, will get your attention somehow if you love the Xmas 50p series. In other words, you only can see the back of the cat instead of a full view. The Xmas theme 50p series is alive a 2nd time on earth. This time, it indicates a broken heart with sadness MEDIUM.

And, Case III.
Firstly, the die marks used this year are AA and BA, not AB! Once again, it is BA not AB! Let me tell you again, it is BA, BA, BA!!! Again, it is not the British Airways (BA). This year the BA ends up the entire mystery of die letters, and also is extremely good supporting evidence to decipher its own meaning. It is Back Again. It is very simple to understand if you look at what was the IOM Xmas 50p coin in 2015. It was absolutely nothing. If a BA-die-mark appears, it has definitely something (i.e., S) happened in previous time interval, say St = (t-1), t=current time. For instance, previous year it is 2003 (2004 (BA), 10K issue mintage from normal 30K), 1987 (1988 (BA), PC theme from Viking Boat) and 2015 (2016 (BA), a 2015 Xmas 50p coin was not issued).

A notable object, it is the “p” for “pence” after its disappearance in years. This reminds the IOM Xmas theme 50p is back to square one–the remembrance of the first IOM Xmas 50p coin in 1980. It is time to close the curtain and the show is OVER now. The Xmas theme 50p is alive 3rd time shortly, but eventually it announces dead on earth.

  • 2016 BA die letters 50p coin.
  • 2016 ND die letters 50p coin (in comparison with the ND and AA die letters).
  • 2016 AA die letters 50p coin (in comparison with the ND and AA die letters).

Although, the Tower mint are still minting the Xmas theme 50p on behalf of the government of Gibraltar at the moment (originally the Tower mint took it over from the Pobjoy mint in 2004), but the Xmas theme 50p is no longer the Xmas theme 50p that it was by the Pobjoy mint. This time it is a broken heart COMPLETELY and only one result–DIVORCE. Therefore, the Pobjoy mint (after divorce) are producing penguin 50p coins on behalf of the government of Falkland Islands 2017 in a lofty way. Ironically, the first coin of the penguin series is made by none sense an error coin. However, no matter who made the decision, the Tower Mint strike it back with an error on coins, the House of Keys. This error makes sense, because IOM circulating commemorative 50p coins are normally ProofLike (PL) finish, but the Tower Mint seems did not know this principle. This time Tynwald spreads info loudly in contrast to 1980 IOM Xmas 50p mule coins, they kept it quietly. Will it be another new good artworks from the mints? Probably it is a NO. WHY? commercialisation = money.

One thing (i.e., BA) should not make the same appearance more than three times. But, it really happens in the Xmas series. Therefore, the IOM Xmas 50p series is doomed out of the 50p show eventually.