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Isle of Man Christmas 50p Coin in Grade from 1999 to 2016


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Part I

Here, it is a very very interesting topic to present in a way either valuation or numismatic value. This topic also is important to collectors who are keen to Christmas 50p base metal coin in modern British Isles coinage history (other than GB coin). Because the more layers we tear off, the more value you can add on the IOM Xmas series. Frankly, it is only here you are able to find out more information on what actually so-called Diamond Finish is. In the early days (say, pre-1997), a Diamond Finish standard (hereafter DF) is a combination of advanced dies (ie., polished) and advanced planchets (ie., buffed), for instance, 1980 IOM Xmas 50p coin associated with BBs-BC-BD-BE-BFs-BFs(Mule). However, the Isle of Man Christmas 50p coin made after 1999, it let you feel that collectors pay a higher price for low quality item made from normal/advanced Dies and normal blanks.

So, let we introduce a UNC coin without mentioning dies and planchets in detail first, as follows:

  • 1999 Christmas 50p Coin from the Isle of Man — UNC <#1>

From the above <#1> pictures, it is hard to tell you what is what, but a base-line point is well established. It is a normal 50p coin which you are able to find it in your pocket money. However, if you look for further detail on the coin, a AA die mark could be spotted at 8 o’clock position. Alongside of that, You are going to see NO squared-rim easily.

Still, another UNC coin, as follows:

  • 1999 Christmas 50p Coin from the Isle of Man — UNC <#2>

From the above <#2> pictures, you are going to see more details on the coin compared to UNC <#1>, but this time, a BB die mark noted on at 8 o’clock position and the mirrored-like field. A variant of UNC <#2> named <#2.1> shows a bit low quality in contrast to UNC <#2>, which is associated with no die mark (hereafter ND).

  • 1999 Christmas 50p Coin from the Isle of Man — UNC <#2.1>

let we have a close look at obverse each,

  • BB’s obverse (UNC <#2>) vs. ND’s obverse (UNC <#2.1>)

At this point, two different coins in grade are established. A UNC <#1> coin is a circulating coin, or Mint Statue (hereafter MS) grade from a 3rd grading company. A UNC either <#2> or <#2.1> coin is a circulating commemorative coin or MS Prooflike.

The last grade in a row, it goes to UNC <#3>.

  • 1999 Christmas 50p Coin from the Isle of Man — UNC <#3>

UNC <#3> is also a circulating commemorative coin but a MS Deep PL standard from a 3rd grading company.

Having said that without mentioning dies and planchets, it concludes that most importantly there were no any BUNC 50p coins made in the IOM Xmas series. UNC <#1> was under strike one time and two times for <#2> and <#2.1>, however, three times for UNC <#3>. What is more, the AA and BB die marks were an indication to tell the significant difference between circulating and circulating commemorative coins in principle. However, die marks (with or without) had less information on grades but were able to give you direct information about a xmas coin wether circulating coin or circulating commemorative coin. Obviously, it was hard to follow when the sudden appearance of the existence of ND type of coins. Therefore, UNC (or MS), DF (or MS PL) and DF with Deep prooflike (or MS DPL) were well established and defined here.

A complicated case is list below from the IOM xmas series. UNC and DF coins share the BB die mark at the same time.

  • 2000 Christmas 50p Coin from the Isle of Man — UNC <#1>

Yes, a BB die mark is easily spotted, but does not necessarily say it is a UNC <#2> or <#3> coin. The above coin is actually a UNC <#1> coin.

Now, it presents a UNC <#2> and <#2.1> coin as below,

  • 2000 Christmas 50p Coin from the Isle of Man — UNC <#2>
  • 2000 Christmas 50p Coin from the Isle of Man — UNC <#2.1>

Having said the 1999 IOM Xmas 50p coin mainly, a balanced picture needs to keep in mind. A more complicated case compared cross panel is going to be presented here in relation to same year 50p coin in the IOM Xmas series. we now have to cover the 1999 Xmas 50p coin from Gibraltar (ie., the Mint works on a same topic for two different people, ironically, the Mint has lost the right to mint Gibraltar coinage since 2004). This time, it is your turn to tell us what is it.

  • 1999 Christmas 50p Coin from Gibraltar — UNC <#2>? or <#3>?

Do not get me wrong here, the BB die mark does not say or indicate UNC <#2> in grade equally and definitely. What I have talked here is that how to identify a DF standard with and without the die marks.

We are moving to the period of 1999 to 2016 that reveals how the quality of coins drops in years.

First of all, it will be the year 2004 and then 2016 in the second place. There is a pattern of AA-BA-ND in both years when the BA die mark has been used. Meanwhile, the AA die mark is simultaneously existed in relation to the BA die mark as well. Most significantly, the Manx cat in the first place has a farewell appearance in 2004 and drops completely from the IOM Xmas series in 2005. What is more, the p has no place after the 50 denomination in 2016. This echoes back to the very beginning of the IOM Xmas series in 1980. These information are a way to express the internal side of the story.

  • 2004 Christmas 50p Coin from the Isle of Man — UNC <#1>
  • 2016 Christmas 50p Coin from the Isle of Man — UNC <#1>

The frosting effect can be seen clearly in both. However, in contrast to ND and BA 50p coins made in same years, the above coins are no better in terms of grade and even worse than UNC <#1> from 1999. A assumption is set up here that the two AA die mark coins are very specially made in the first place but reason(s) unknown.

Last, I want to mention a point here that not all AA diemarks stand for UNC or struck on base metal but there is an exception see below.

  • 1994 Christmas 50p Silver Proof Coin from Gibraltar — PF <#4>
  • Credit: NGC database/online

The mystery of the IOM and GIB Xmas 50p coin is not bad and pulling out from the water, but exploring is still on.

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Gibraltar Christmas 50p Coin From 1988 to 2003


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The 50p Xmas coin market in the UK is still young and takes time to become a good and reasonable market. However, Christmas 50p coin from Gibraltar is getting a mess and slowly moving on to their £2 coin like the Isle of Man. The sooner or later collectors will go back for obtaining original ones definitely. This is the destiny of Xmas-theme related coin — failure vs. commercialisation. Firstly, the concept of a Xmas coin is no longer a potential financial instrument as it was. Because the issuer has the absolute right in control of a mintage number. What is more, collectors are being treated like milk cows. Furthermore, people can re-sell goods in hands at a higher price on a secondary market after the IPO (i.e., initial public offering) for the purpose of quick bucks where is only the stimulus driven people to do so. If you take some time to wait a bit further, all will slow down and even be collapsed in price. Collectors have not learnt from this market and events held in the past, history will repeat itself many times, website crash down after website crash down, again and again. Last, it is inconsistency in the entire GIB Xmas series. From Day 1 to date, the Gibraltar government have employed two mints, as follows:

1988 to 2003, the Pobjoy mint;

And,

2004 to 2016, the Tower mint;

And,

2017 to 2019, back to the Pobjoy mint;

And,

2020 to day, back to the Tower mint again.

The above changes lead designs of coinage and striking quality are poor over time.

However, in contrast to Christmas 50p coin from the Isle of Man, the government of the Isle of Man is doing much better. One thing you obviously see through from the IOM Xmas series is consistency, of course, 2015 not counted. At some degree, the entire IOM Xmas series is a good investment portfolio in the long run term. Sadly, the full stop has been made in 2017 by the Tynwald Court. The IOM Xmas 50p series went commercial once in 2003, they felt good, and went twice in 2008, still good, and sadly burst in 2014.

Here, you are only able to see Gibraltar Xmas 50p coin from 1988 to 2003 ONLY, due to the main constraint of data made available by the Pobjoy Mint. Let we start with 1988 first as follows:

  • 1988 Gibraltar Xmas 50p UNC coin
  • We have to talk about a 1988 Gibraltar £1 Virenium Proof coin when we come across the very first Gibraltar Xmas 50p coin. In theory, a die mark can be easily spotted on Xmas 50p coins made by the Pobjoy Mint. However, it has no such sign. Secondly, the very first Gibraltar Xmas 50p coin is made really poor in terms of coin quality. These coins are not classified as a Diamond Finish standard coin. Bear in mind that this is not what I am defining it, and all evidence will be merged in 1989 onwards to 2003.

  • 1988 Gibraltar £1 Virenium Proof Coin

After this point, you are able to see so-called Diamond Finish (DF) 50p coin from Gibraltar. Note all samples you are going to see were acquired from coin in card.

  • 1989 Gibraltar Xmas 50p Diamond Finish (DF) coin
  • 1990 Gibraltar Xmas 50p DF coin
  • 1991 Gibraltar Xmas 50p DF coin
  • 1992 Gibraltar Xmas 50p DF coin
  • 1993 Gibraltar Xmas 50p DF coin
  • 1994 Gibraltar Xmas 50p DF coin
  • 1995 Gibraltar Xmas 50p DF coin
  • 1996 Gibraltar Xmas 50p DF coin
  • 1997 Gibraltar Xmas 50p DF coin
  • 1998 Gibraltar Xmas 50p DF coin
  • 1999 Gibraltar Xmas 50p DF coin

After this point, you are going to see designs are NOT nested in a wreath which means a full design on reverse.

  • 2000 Gibraltar Xmas 50p DF coin
  • 2001 Gibraltar Xmas 50p DF coin
  • 2002 Gibraltar Xmas 50p DF coin
  • 2003 Gibraltar Xmas 50p DF coin

Each year, 30,000 Gibraltar Xmas 50p coins are commissioned based on COA. The number of 30,000 is a maximum no. that the Mint is allowed to mint coins. Note the Mint itself has is a unique position in this case, because the Mint is a private limited company not any government-owned minter. From the perspective of the Pobjoy Mint, the level of a certain number of coins made is fundamentally important.

I am aware that it is only a short part of Gibraltar Xmas series from 1988 to 2020 (so far, 1993 and 2002 missing as well). The above coins illustrated are minted by the Pobjoy Mint. This is the reason that this short part exists. Xmas series either from the Isle of Man or Gibraltar are really good numismatic products in terms of design and technique. In modern time, it is hard to find such good arts designed by heart and made by modern people with no commercial intension first.

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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.

Reference
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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Gibraltar Father Christmas 50p Diamond Finish Coin in 2018


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Gibraltar Father Christmas 50p Coin associated with NO Die Mark in 2018

Story is being updated now……

A second one in series after many years they had got their contract back from the Tower Mint. This one looked very different in comparison with previous, considering a same Father Christmas face in two different years, one named Christmas 2017, but 2018 was called Father Christmas(tm). It concludes that the Christmas series is no longer come out on the market but instead the Father Christmas series. At the same time, The Snowman(tm) series by the Royal Mint was under way. Both the themes came from the same source original creator Raymond Briggs.

In 2018, it has three types of Father Christmas 50p coin from Gibraltar in base metal, standard version with die marks AA/AB (i.e., currency/circulating commemorative coin), diamond finish standard version with NO die mark (i.e., uncirculated commemorative coin) and of course, diamond finish standard colour-printed version with NO die mark. In terms of coin striking quality, a 2018 Father Christmas 50p coin is much better than a 2017 Christmas 50p coin that is originally issued in 1992.

1. Currency coin with die marks AA/AB (Note AA/AB is underneath left arm)

  • Version AA
  • COMING SOON……

  • Version AB
  • COMING SOON……

2. Diamond Finish non-colour-printed, 50p ND coin

  • Father Christmas 2018, a 50p ND DF coin in a decoration
  • Father Christmas 2018, a 50p ND DF coin

It has been a while since last 50p coin in a decoration. One was likely seen in 2012, but later was fully replaced by a IOM Post Office small-sized card. And, never and ever a 2014 IOM Christmas 50p Snowman coin in a decoration was officially sold, please be aware of this cottage business.

The first surprise is that the Xmas 50p series has gone? Because in the year 2018, Father Christmas(tm) was big enough printed on the reverse of a Gibraltar 50p coin. In 2017, Christmas was highly seen on Gibraltar 50p coin. However, there was no any trace of Christmas on 50p coins. The second focus, of course, is that coin quality is much better than 2017 ones. At least, the mirror-like field is more or less visible. It looks boring that one singular object was drawn in design structure, meaning very simple in design. Thirdly, in contrast to 2017 Christmas 50p coins’ mintage, it came down to 7,500 coins, a bit smaller than 2017 ones. Last but not least, other coins in precious metal, silver proof and gold proof were both minted.

3. Diamond Finish colour-printed, 50p ND coin

  • Father Christmas 2018, a 50p colour-printed ND DF coin in a card
  • Father Christmas 2018, a 50p colour-printed ND DF coin

It seems that this colour-printed version is the first one made by the Pobjoy mint for Gibraltar. However, the disadvantage of this colour-printed version is painting so weak, might have a result of colour dropping over time.

*Most popular philatelic products are First Day Coin cover (i.g., FDC), and the key players are benham and westminstercollection in the UK. Others may exist but not included here. One 2018 Father Christmas 50p colour-printed DF coin was seen for sale and this FDC has a issue limit of 50. The number of 50 is very very small, but the story behind the 50 is very interesting to decipher. Eventually, this FDC programme was replaced by the Gibraltar Philatelic Bureau’s FDC. Both the 2 cases were achieved none! For collectors, they suffered a lot of pain during the course. (*Note: I wrote this paragraph after I put blog of Gibraltar Father Christmas 50p ND coin in 2019 online.)

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