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Isle of Man Christmas 50p Diamond Finish Coins in Copper-Nickel (1980)

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Isle of Man Christmas Fifty Pence (50p) coins in 1980 and all CN coin certs

This chapter, named Part I, will only go through IOM Xmas Fifty pence diamond finish coins in base metal, illustrated picture by picture, from 1980 to 1996 in order. But, the story behind 1980 ones is our priority to introduce first.

The Pobjoy Mint (hereafter the Mint) invented and produced Christmas theme coins via Manx coinage on behalf of the government of the Isle of Man (hereafter Tynwald) in 1980. An issue limit was set up at 30,000 coins per year. This means the Mint could not produce more than 30,001 coins or mint coins less than 30,000 (depending on demand). Also, the Mint claim that they have only had ability to produce proof coins in 1980 onwards.

A significance point found on IOM 50ps over years is that the Mint only had rights (or under permission) to partially mint coins from 1972 to 1975 on behalf of Tynwald. Because all reverse designs from these period were created by the Mint that exactly match the Royal Mint 1971 version, and all obverse designs were completed by people from the Royal Mint, like Christopher Ironside etc. Moreover, in 2016, the new sides of reverse and obverse were totally designed by the Mint showing on the T.T. theme and the Xmas series. Extra info: it is reported that Derek Pobjoy, founder of the Pobjoy mint, submitted a “workable” proposal to Tynwald in 1972. This is how the Mint got their the first contract from the government of the Isle of Man. Also, you may notice that 1972 IOM 25p crown-sized coins were minted by the Royal Canadian Mint. All silver 25p crown-sized coins were only distributed by Spink whom had to set up a special office on the island. Info are gathered cross panels (i.e., viking boat 50ps, IOM TT 50ps etc). Anyway, it is a little far away off the main topic, probably let we put focus on IOM Xmas theme coins first here.

Generally speaking, reverse designs on the Xmas 50p diamond finish (hereafter DF) coin from 1980 to 1999 are a vivid picture that shows the very traditional style of IOM daily life (i.e., Yuletide Manx). The life is influenced by the Victorian era. Each year, a Xmas DF coin tells you a story that is absolutely different before when you hold it. In the following parts, you are able to see the world first Xmas Fifty pence coin, and then all Xmas 50p coins are illustrated year by year. Coin techs are 30.00mm in diameter and 13.50g in weight, and are most likely a very high prooflike finish with the 2nd and/or 3rd effigy of Q.E. II during the period of 1980 to 1997.

Before we are heading down to Part I, let we talk a little bit on certs from 1980 to 2016. In the mean time, this talk will cover the mint’s logos from 1965 to present.

In pictures below, named A(a), B(b), C(c), D(d) E(e), F(f) & G(g), show the mint’s logo over the course of time, and different signatures from the treasurer of IOM (i.e., chief financial officer) in different years. Also, only four coas are list here, but it covers from 1980 to 2014.

  1. Picture A(a) & B(b), the 1st mint logo in use from 1965 to 1996. (Picture A(a) is only for 1980 Xmas 50p MULE coin, Picture B(b) for 1984 to 1996 Xmas 50p coins. Note 1981/82/83 are big size ones, not showing within this case.)
  2. A(a)

    Note: Picture A(a), signature of William Dawson (1980–1991), the then Manx Government Treasurer. In 1986, Department of the Treasury was formed after abolishment of the Finance Board, and was as part of reorganisation of the Isle of Man Government on a ministerial basis. Picture B(b), signature of John Alfred Cashen (OBE) (1991 – 2001), then the Chief Financial Officer (CFO) of the Isle of Man Treasury. A significant difference on the Arms, Crest and Badge between the two coas.

  3. Picture C(c), the 2nd mint logo in use from 1997 to 2007. The Mint moved to new premises in 1997 as well. (Picture C(c) for 1997 to 2007 Xmas 50p coins) & Picture D(d), the 3rd mint logo in use from 2008 onwards to date.
  4. C(c)

    Note: Picture C(c), signature of Paul Mark Shimmin (MBE), then the Chief Financial Officer of the Isle of Man Treasury. Picture D(d), signature of Dr. Malcolm Couch, then the Chief Financial Officer of the Isle of Man Treasury. For the period of Jul 2015 to Dec 2016, Sheila Lowe*, the New Chief Financial Officer of the Isle of Man Treasury. In theory and logic, coas should have been followed up in time order above especially by chief financial officer’s signature, but sadly in reality, it is really hard to follow. Here it shows an idea what IOM Xmas 50p coin certs really are.

  5. Pictures E(e) & F(f) & G(g)
  6. E(e)

    Note only 1981 E(e) & 1982 F(f) & 1983 G(g) are A5-sized COA.

Part I

1980, Stagecoach
Obverse designer Arnold Machin from the RM.
BC die marks were declared by the PM for “the first Xmas coin in the world”. BC highly and possibly stands for Before Christ on 50p diamond finish coins minted in 1980 (supporting evidence PMM on 50p coins in 2000, M = 1000 years).
1st in series.

At the beginning of this Part I, it generally introduces 1980 IOM Xmas 50p coins. And it then decomposes into 1980 Xmas variations due to the existence of many variants.

The Mint claimed that they had updated new machinery in 1980 so that proof coins/sets were minted and introduced that year onwards. This solid info could confirm that 10 out of 10 the Mint were in control of designing and minting Manx coinages (i.e., obverse and reverse), and the length of a contract was “long enough”.

1980 IOM Xmas 50p in pictures as follows,

  • 1980(1) IOM Xmas Diamond Finish 50p Coin with BC die marks (so-called Diamond Finish, or PL);
  • 1980(2) IOM Xmas Diamond Finish 50p Coin with BD die marks (PF);
  • 1980(3) IOM Xmas Diamond Finish 50p Coin with BE die marks (PF);
  • 1980(4) IOM Xmas Diamond Finish 50p Coin with BF die marks (carrying MULE coins reverse, PF);

There is a significant difference on BF coins. The difference on reverses between ordinary ones (for instance BC) and this one (below BF) is located at a area between people waving towards the boat & under the boat. The difference is noted on MULE coins as well. BF coins and BF Mule coins have the difference in common. If you get a very closer look at BF coins below, this batch of coins are PF grade coins. Based on this finding, it says that the Mint noticed the MULE error and quickly changed them to correct the obverse, but did not notice this difference. Also, it could be other way around. Assumably the coin’s reverse was the original version.

Also, if you look at the Mule 50p coins further, there are at least two different the obverses. This means, (assumption) they were minting xmas theme 50p coins for 1980, and they had to break the production chain to mint coins like AC/D for the Viking show in NY due to the unexpected attendance of the show in NY in 1980. (The Mint normally uses one letter to present precious metals like B(Pt), C(Au) and D/E/F(Ag), and two letters for basic metal like CN(AA etc). From here, you clearly see that a) the Mint will not do anythings on precious metals, b) AA/AB batch codes existed in 1979 for the purpose of regular coinage, so BB/BC/… on IOM 50p coins are made for serious collectors. BB/BC/… comes from a loop based on B with one more letter from the precious metals.) At this point, it concludes that the attendance of the Viking show in NY was not in their plan and they were under lot of pressures to do so.

Supporting evidence for above. You are able to see two very different die marks in 1980, BF come from 1980 Xmas theme and DD come from 1980 Viking the boats theme. Based on info that the PM have had purchases on machinery in early 1980s. Therefore, BF and DD are correlated each other somehow. Also, from this two die marks, you can see how the Mint grows up. Interestingly, the BF coin below is a coin in proof grade.

  • 1980(4.1) IOM Xmas Diamond Finish 50p Coin with BF die marks (MULE coin, dull version*);
  • 1980(4.2) IOM Xmas Diamond Finish 50p Coin with BF die marks (MULE coin, shiny version*);
  • *Note: Version of Dull & Shiny please refers 1987 Viking boat 50p dull and shiny version.

Here it shows the Mule 50p coins, “stateless”, ever in British coinage history above. Seen from the pictures, 1980 IOM Xmas 50p Diamond Finish Coins with BF die marks were NGC slabbed, which are both a MULE coin. More significant about them it is “STATELESS”. Reference books say that only a few coins exist. The obverses have many different grade types at least two. Note: the obverse designer was Arnold Machin from the RM.

It is very interesting to talk about the mule coins. Because the Mint did make this stateless coin either unintentionally or intentionally. However, it is understandable that we are all human being that make errors. Sadly, the Mint will never admit this type of error made publicly. So what really did happen in 1980 to the Mint? Secondly, the Mint were called for entering the Viking Exhibition show in New York with the coins minted in 1979 but need 1980 on obverse. Thirdly, all obverses were changing legend to Isle of Man Elizabeth II from Elizabeth the Second this year. Do not forget that the Mint claimed they had had new machinery in 1980. Meanwhile, if you ponder the section below, you will have your own answers on mule coins and will see how careless they were under huge pressure. From the perspective of the Mint, they welcome this glory in 5 year time (ie., 1975 to 1980). This shows how hard works they did. Therefore, it is worth spending time on talking the mule coins, and is a firm fact that never can be changed on coins.

  • 1980(5) IOM Xmas 50p Diamond Finish Coin with BB die letters (PF);
  • 1980(5.1) IOM Xmas 50p Diamond Finish (really???) Coin with BB die letters (PL).

To sum up briefly, this part is an extra part for the purpose of illustrating these types of strange BB-die-letter coins above and a comparison each other. Apparently, you now have seen many different finish 1980 Xmas 50p coins. So, is the low grade BB(5.1) die letter coin a diamond finish coin or not? Then you will have your own decision in your mind. Obviously, at a first glance it has low minting quality in contrast with BC(1)/BD(2)/BE(3)/BF(4)/BF(4.1, 4.2) (mule)/BB(5) die letter coins, because of No Mirrored-like Field.

This year, it has A, B, D and E under the Prefix A, and B, C, D, E and F under the Prefix B. Meanwhile, B, D and E is overlapped between the Prefix A and B. As mentioned before, the sequence C will not appear at the same time between the Prefix A and the Prefix B (support evidence 1982 AC and the babycrib privy). The single die letter like D and E is used to mint coins in silver this year. The sequence E comes from the last sequence of the Prefix A, but D from the Prefix B is not. Normally, D, E and F are used to mint coins in silver, B for platinum proof and C for gold proof. The D and E die letter is for silver proof (support evidence 1980 Xmas 50p proof coin in silver). The F die letter was first time used on 1979 Viking boat 50p coins in silver BU. The BF die letters on Xmas 50p coins in base metal are really containing important information internally and somehow making the mule coins more valuable.