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The Pobjoy Mint Die Mark (Single) A/B/C/D/E in 1973

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The Pobjoy Mint Die Mark (Single) A/B/C/D/E in 1973

I have talked a little bit on the topic of die mark AC in the past, catching it up you can click on Die Marks AC under All Categories on your right panel. Today, let we talk about single die mark, and the start of all die mark variants.

It all begun on sovereigns gold coins in 1973. In the year 1973, the Pobjoy mint were commissioned to mint sovereigns from half to five sovereigns on behalf of the government of Isle of Man. Also, it was the time to see the birth of die mark (single) A/B/C/D/E from a private mint in the post-decimal era in the UK. A special die mark X was created in 1973 and die mark F in 1979. In the meantime, the letters of PM were well-established as the Pobjoy Mint’s mintmark.

According to MacKay (1978, p.51), a single letter like A/B/C/D/E was stamped on IOM sovereigns from half to Five in 1973, and each letter indicated the numbers of coins struck from each die. However, the author has not put more information about the difference among dies, or gave explanation on reasons behind using different dies. Most importantly, this book was published by the Pobjoy Mint.

In terms of a single letter,
Precious metal, (–0)*, single die mark like: A, B, C, D & E, X (only 1973 gold metal, MacKay (1978, p.52)) and F (1979 silver metal);
Man-made metal, (–1)*, 2-digit die mark like AA/AB/AC/AD and BB/BC on 1978 £1 Virenium coin;
Base metal, (–2)*, 2-digit die mark like: AA/AB/AC/AD/AE(?)/AF(?) under the Prefix A, and BB/BC/BD/BE/BF and BA (1988 50p Xmas coin) under the Prefix B** on 1979 50p CN coin.
The difference among above like 2^0(=1) and 2^1(=2, two different finish standards) and 2^2 (=4, Tynwald Hill, a 4-tiered hill). The base 2 comes from a coin having two sides.
The meaning of 2-digit die mark represents the First Day of Minting (FDM) like AA and BB in base metal, B in precious metal.
*Note: considers as position in line.
**Note: AE, AF, BE and BF were only appeared on circulating commemorative coins like IOM Xmas 50p coin, and not on circulating coins. DD was spotted on 1980 circulating coins. Also, the Prefix B indicates a (at least) prooflike or proof finish standard. This source comes from 50p coins.

Having said above, it is easy to direct how to collect IOM Xmas 50p coin and IOM T.T. 50p coin in terms of die mark. In general, coins in loose condition, die marks AA and BB both from circulating commemorative coins are the most common ones but AA with BU striking techniques and BB with Diamond Finish striking techniques. Years like 1980 1981 1982 1983 1984 until 1985 it is hard to decide which direction you are going to, because there is 4 (at least) variants from the Prefix A and the Prefix B and later after post-1997, down to AA/BB (or ND).

Some special IOM/T.T. 50p ones without provenance at the moment, like:

  1. 1980 IOM Xmas,
  2. it has BB/BC/BD/BE/BF & BF mule plus two different versions under die letters BB–BB w/ mirror-liked field and BB w/o mirror-liked field, and AA/AB/AC/AD/AE(?)/AF(?). Mistakes noted! Very new product from the perspective of the Mint alongside circulating coins. Official announcement of BC as diamond finish in Krause book (KM#).

  3. 1981 IOM Xmas XX,
  4. this one is possibly linked to 1973 sovereign with die mark X. It has BB and BC under the Prefix B this year. In the same year, IOM T.T. was minted. Mistake noted! New product from the perspective of the Mint alongside circulating coins.

  5. 1983 IOM T.T. AC,
  6. it has AA/AB/AC/AD and BB.

  7. 1988 IOM Xmas BA,
  8. this one indicates that BA coin finish standard is between AA and BB. The BB die marks indicate proof finish, and the AA die marks stand for standard finish. Somehow it echoes 1980 BB w/o mirror-liked field in terms of striking quality.

  9. In 1994 IOM Xmas ND,
  10. Striking techniques are totally different.

  11. 2005 IOM Xmas AA,
  12. is shiny like a glass cup.

  13. 2011 IOM Xmas AA,
  14. and ND are only two grades in Xmas series. BB die marks has dropped out since 2004 onwards.

Let us talk about the AC and AD die marks once again here. It has been talking many times in the past, but here it definitively gives you the best picture you can see. Also, you can find them from Die Marks AC/ AD under Categories on your right panel. The AD die mark was established alongside with the AC die mark in 1978 for the purpose of celebrating the first £1 pound coin in British decimal coinage history. The standard finish (i.e., UNC finish) was used on £1 IOM virenium coin from sequence of A to D under the Prefix A. In the year 1979, it only had the AA/AB/AC die marks on £1 virenium coin. However, the AD die mark was spotted on 1979 IOM 50p coin. Most surprisingly, this year 50p coin finish on the AA/AB/AC/AD die marks was significant different, and each die mark had two variants (note, another 1979 AC from 1980 AC). Probably, all steps above were included in the “1972 workable proposal” submitted in 1972 by Mr. D. Pobjoy.

Have you noticed that the AD die mark was shifted from £1 down to 50p? This obviously echoes the Millennium AD event and the Royal visit event in 1979.

It was a amazing story told by the different die marks, but sadly, it had no any official record of them to trace or search. Probably, it is the best disadvantage of collecting IOM post-decimal coin.

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


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The Pobjoy Mint Die Mark (or batch code) A/B/C/D/E/F in 1978 onwards

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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.


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 Mark

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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 is Case III, Case I and Case II in order. Because Case III is only the clue behind the mystery of the BA diemark.

The AA diemark is 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 an alphabetic sequence (i.e., 2nd letter). This forms a vast group of die letters (i.e., AA, AB, BA, BB and so forth). 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 BA ones we are going to talk 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-related 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 BB die letter 50p coin (in comparison with the BA and AA die letters)
  • 1988 BA die letter 50p coin
  • 1988 AA die letter 50p coin (in comparison with the BB and AA die letters)
  • As 3 coins shown above, coin quality actually reduces from BB down to AA and even 1988 BB its own. One indication seen form 1987 IOM Xmas 50p coin is that the cat faces you with full back. Two other facts are noted. 1987 IOM Viking boat 50p coin is hard to find. 1988 Gibraltar Xmas 50p UNC coin is in place made by the Pobjoy mint.

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!!! But, simply by adding up snowflake it is now. 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 objects of a 2004 Xmas 50p coin was the Laxey water wheel surrounding by snowflakes and the Manx cat that is excluded permanently.

Notable in 2003, mintage of the Xmas theme was cut to 10k from 30k suddenly with famous animation the Snowman published in 1978. Why the mint lets the mintage be only 10k this year, and goes to the path of commercialisation 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. And, half way through the 12-day Christmas.

  • 2004 BA die letter 50p coin
  • 2004 ND die letter 50p coin (in comparison with the ND and AA die letters)
  • 2004 AA die letter 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. However, it indicates a broken heart with sadness MEDIUM this time.

And, Case III.
Firstly, the die marks used this year are AA and BA, not AB! Again, it is BA not AB! Let me tell you one more time, it is BA, BA, BA!!! Once 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 years are 2003 (2004 (BA), 10K issue mintage from normal 30K), 1987 (1988 (BA), PC theme after Viking Boat) and 2015 (2016 (BA), a 2015 Xmas 50p coin was not issued) respectively.

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 letter 50p coin.
  • Note: flat font on both side. A notable symbol, the PM mintmark is not shown on this one, and the “p” missing as well.

  • 2016 ND die letter 50p coin (in comparison with the ND and AA die letters).
  • Note: fat font on both side. A notable symbol, the PM mintmark is not shown on this one, and the “p” missing as well.

  • 2016 AA die letter 50p coin (in comparison with the ND and AA die letters).
  • Note: fat font on reverse or pudding side, flat font on obverse. A notable symbol, the PM mintmark is not shown on this one, and the “p” missing as well.

Although, the Tower mint is still minting the Xmas theme 50p over the Pobjoy Mint on behalf of the government of Gibraltar at the moment (originally the Tower mint took the contract over from the Pobjoy mint in 2004), but the Xmas theme 50p is no longer the Xmas theme 50p that it was invented by the Pobjoy mint. This time it is a broken heart COMPLETELY and only the path towards — DIVORCE. Therefore, the Pobjoy mint (after divorce) is enormously 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 strikes it back with an error coin as well, the House of Keys. This error makes sense and somehow confirms that IOM non-circulating commemorative 50p coins are normally ProofLike (PL) finish, but the Tower Mint seems did not know this principle. This time Tynwald spreads info in black and white loudly, however the Court kept it quietly in contrast to 1980 IOM Xmas 50p mule coins. Will it be another new good artworks from the mints? Probably it is a NO. WHY? commercialisation is purely driven by money not by heart.

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. If you are familiar with Major League Baseball (MLB), 3 strikes, you are OUT, and move to next player.