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Isle of Man Christmas 50p Coin in Grade from 1980 to 1996

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Part II

Here it comes Part II where a new part introduces how did the Pobjoy Mint make a start of the IOM Xmas 50p at the beginning of the year 1980, and a 2nd time improvement happened in 1994. We have talked many things in Part I (if you have missed is, please click here).

  • 1980 Christmas 50p coin from the Isle of Man — UNC<#1>

The 1980 UNC<#1>, BB, is the most strange one you have ever come across at the beginning of 1980, not only the BB diemark associated with but also the lowest standard in grade in a row. This one breaks the rule of prefix B equivalent to prooflike. However, it is only the one in the series.

  • 1980 Christmas 50p Coin from the Isle of Man — UNC<#2>

The 1980 UNC<#2>, BB, in contrast to the 1980 UNC<#1>, is much better in terms of finish standard. A light frosting effect and the likely mirror-liked field can be seen.

  • 1980 Christmas 50p Coin from the Isle of Man — UNC<#3>

The 1980 UNC<#3>, BC, in contrast to the 1980 UNC<#2>, is better, and great than the 1980 UNC<#1>. Also, this type of coins is named Diamond Finish (DF) officially. First impression you have is a bit more whity and easily toned in nature condition. The mirror-liked field it is getting to see clearly.

  • 1980 Christmas 50p Coin from the Isle of Man — UNC<#4>

The 1980 UNC<#4>, BD, single digit D was used for striking silver metal coin.

  • 1980 Christmas 50p Coin from the Isle of Man — UNC<#5>

The 1980 UNC<#5>, BE, single digit E was used for striking silver metal coin as well.

Things are getting more complicated beyond this point. First, mule coins exist. Second, reverse has many versions even many variants in a single version. Last, no any record for the Xmas 50p coin it has in place.

  • 1980 Christmas 50p Coin from the Isle of Man — UNC<#6>

The 1980 UNC<#6>, BF, has squared-rim especially on the obverse side.

  • 1980 Christmas 50p Coin from the Isle of Man — UNC<#6.1>

The 1980 UNC<#6.1>, BF, has the frosting effect very clear.

  • 1980 UNC<#6>'s reverse vs. 1980 UNC<#6.1>'s reverse
  • Credit: richukcoins®

  • 1980 Christmas 50p Mule Coin from the Isle of Man — UNC<#6.2>
  • 1980 Christmas 50p Mule Coin from the Isle of Man — UNC<#6.3>

At this point, you have seen many different variants including Mule coins from 1980. It concludes that nobody knew what would be the best finish for the IOM Xmas series in line with no proof coins in base metal at the beginning of the Xmas venture. One thing is clear that the young Pobjoy Mint ltd was keen to make and/or invent something new in numismatic world at age of 15 years really. Another the owner of the Mint shared the things happened behind the closed door externally with collectors as well.

Next, the turning point it shows in 1994, and was last for a consecutive 3 years period. The pattern was like AA-ND and the first introduction of No Diemark (ND) coin in the Xmas 50p series.

  • 1994 Christmas 50p Coin from the Isle of Man — UNC<#1>
  • 1994 Christmas 50p Coin from the Isle of Man — UNC<#3>

Note: UNC<#1> indicates uncirculated coin that has struck once only, and associated with AA normally. UNC<#3> is a circulating commemorative coin that is done by twice striking with polished dies and specially prepared blanks, and it has ND eventually. UNC<#2> is something between UNC<#1> and UNC<#3> and sometimes with and/or without BB diemark. UNC<#4> and beyond is more like experiments. The pattern is like AA-BB-ND in general. Once you have had an understanding of the IOM diemarks, perhaps you are going to see and enjoy how wonderful the IOM xmas series is before 2010. A third grading company like NGC or PCGS gives a mark PL+ on coin made up to 1998 and MS+ DPL/PL for 1999 and onwards. This info shows how coin quality switched off after 1999.


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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 Xmas 50p Coin in 1980 The World First Christmas theme related 50p Coin

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BF Die Letters on Fifty Pence coin and D & E Dies on silver coin: A story about 1980 IOM Xmas series.

The story started in 1980. What was story about? Indeed, you need to know more about Isle of Man modern coins, so that you then have to ask yourself what had happened in and before 1980? Do not forget that the Pobjoy Mint (established in 1960s) are a specialist in modern coins. The die letters (or batch codes) originally were found on 1978 IOM £1 coins and then expanded on all IOM denominations in 1979 onwards. Later soon, the Mint had earned their reputation in the numismatic world in 1980 by attending the New York Viking Exhibition Show. From the perspective of business, they only take 5 years to reach a peak of a business circle.

Normally, I do not conclude precious mental coins struck at the Pobjoy Mint within topics I have mentioned here. Because the Royal Mint precious metal coins are made much better than the Pobjoy Mint in terms of British modern coins. However, the Pobjoy Mint really do a great job than the Royal Mint if you look back at non-precious metals (i.e., CN).

Now, let we get straight into the point above. But we need to know what coins are first. Therefore, let we have a look at silver coins of the world first xmas silver coins associated with die letter D and E respectively struck at the Pobjoy Mint.

  • 1980 IOM Xmas 50p Proof silver coin with D die letter (Proof grade).
  • 1980 IOM Xmas 50p Proof silver coin with E die letter (Proof grade).
  • Note: From above, D die silver and E die silver are different in terms of coin finish or coin quality. D die silver coin looks more frosted on portrait.

Above pictures it shows the difference between the D die letter silver coin and the E die letter silver coin. At first glance, the E die letter grade is better than the D one. Why do I have two different die letters presenting here? This is simple to answer: go back to look at 1978 IOM £1 silver coins. Indeed, they keep so-called “consistency” between 1978 and 1980. Simultaneously, the existence of the BC die letters for both years. Based on the two strings noted on silver coins, it is not hard to follow two series on Cupro-Nickel (CN) coins. One string is for the Prefix A and another the Prefix B. Also, from this point, it is not to hard to follow circulating commemorative and commemorative coins. For instance, circulating commemorative coins = the Prefix A; commemorative coins = the Prefix B. Under the Prefix A, it has AA, AB, AD & AE and BC, BD, BF & BB under the Prefix B in 1980. (Notice: the AC is not showing here because of the existence of BC within the Xmas series. However, most importantly, the AC is adapted on the 1980 NY Viking show 50p library finish coin. Clearly, the closest letter of D is E under the Prefix A, the E die letter presents here.)

My personal interest is not Xmas 50p coins under the Prefix A, and only the Prefix B xmas coins. The so-called diamond finish coins are just fit into the gap in the UK numismatic world. Because they are quite enjoyable in terms of money spent and non-precious metal related coins. My understanding on a diamond finish standard is that a). polished blanks used; b). no proof die used during the striking process and c). press once time. As a result, no frosted relief and no mirror-liked field.

However, IOM Xmas 50p coins with the BF and BB die letters somehow have got my attention. Let we talk the BF coins first and then the BB coins.

The BF coins. The BF coins below are highly correlated with the BF Mule coins, which I have talked them a lot under categories of IOM Xmas.

  • 1980 IOM Xmas 50p Diamond Finish with BF die letter (version 1) (Proof grade).
  • 1980 IOM Xmas 50p Diamond Finish with BF die letter (version 2) (Proof grade).
  • Version 1 vs. Version 2 — The difference between the two versions above.
  • Note: it is normal BF coins above with the correct obverse along with a very small error noted on reverse. However, the (real) BF coins with the incorrect obverse having the same error as seen from Version 1 are the stateless 50p mule coin.

The BB coins. The most unusual things the Pobjoy mint made at the beginning of the creation of the Xmas series are using BB die letters and BC die letters. They send data BC die letters as diamond finish coin in Krause book (#KM). However, in reality, it has the existence of BB die letters.

  • 1980 IOM Xmas 50p Diamond Finish with the BB die letter (version 1) (Proof grade).
  • 1980 IOM Xmas 50p “Diamond Finish” with the BB die letter (version 2) (Prooflike grade).
  • Note: considering the two (V1 & V2) above are coins both associated with BB, but they have a decrease quality in grade.

Based on the story of the BF die letters, it is getting more clear here. They definitely had made an ERROR in 1980 because of attending the 1980 NY Viking show. But, why there was NO a collector to dig this story out in public? One thing is for sure that the IOM Xmas theme related 50p coin is getting popular and the Xmas theme on coins it has a big market here in the UK. However, it takes 35 years to reach this point from 1980 to 2014 with the majority of people born 1980s and 1990s.

To myself, it is quite clear that the AC missing under the Prefix A, and still searching the BE under the Prefix B. No matter what is in the Prefix A or the Prefix B on IOM Xmas 50p coins, they are showing only 4 sequences. Also, it is quite clear to me on this bit. In order to have a clear and better picture of my understanding here, you probably do need go through different topics under categories. All things happened in 1980 are extremely and highly correlated each other. That is the point they got them far further deep in this industry in 1980. But, sad, very sad, it is that everything it has an end after it starts. Remember The Pobjoy Mint once only get permissions from Tynwald, and they then have rights to mint IOM coins. In other words, Tynwald is only the big boss to them.


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

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Isle of Man Christmas Fifty Pence (50p) coin 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 in excess of 30,000 coins (i.e., upper limit) but as many as possible close to 30,000 coins (i.e., depends on demand). Also, the Mint claim that they have only had ability to produce proof decimal coins in 1980 onwards.

A significance point found on IOM 50ps over years is that the Mint only had rights (or under permissions) to partially mint coins from 1972 to 1975 on behalf of Tynwald. Because the reverse and obverse sides from these period were created by the Mint that exactly matched the Royal Mint 1971 version. 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 Mr Derek Pobjoy, founder of the Pobjoy mint, submitted a “workable” proposal to Tynwald in 1972. This is how the Mint got them 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 (RCM). 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 bit far away off the main topic, probably let we put focus on IOM Xmas theme coins here.

Generally speaking, reverse designs of the Xmas 50p diamond finish (hereafter DF) coin in CN 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 as before. 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 proof finish standard with the 2nd and/or 3rd and/or 4th effigy of Q.E. II during the period of 1980 to 1999.

Before we 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) shows signature of William Dawson (1980–1991) in blue version and noted green version as well, 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) is 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. Note the Mint moved to new premises in 1997. (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.
Die mark BC was declared by the PM for Diamond Finish and “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 Part I, it generally introduces 1980 IOM Xmas 50p Diamond Finish coins. Yes, a few of them in different variants existed. And then it slowly decomposes them into 1980 Xmas variations due to the existence of many variants and a very interesting story behind.

The Mint claimed that they had updated new machinery in 1980 so that proof/prooflike coins and sets were minted and introduced that year onwards on social platforms. This solid information 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 Diamond Finish coin 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 1980(1)) and this one (below BF 1980(4.1)) is located at an 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.

  • 1980(4.1) IOM Xmas Diamond Finish 50p Coin with BF die marks (carrying MULE coins reverse, PF)

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(4.2) IOM Xmas Diamond Finish 50p Coin with BF die marks (MULE coin, PL, dull version*)
  • 1980(4.3) IOM Xmas Diamond Finish 50p Coin with BF die marks (MULE coin, PL, shiny version*)
  • *Note: Versions 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.