By Joshua McMorrow-Hernandez for CoinWeek.com ......
The Isle of Man has unveiled a set of seven new coins for 2017, which mark the first complete redesign of circulating coinage for the British island nation since 2004. The seven new coins range from the 5 pence denomination up through the £5 coin, the latter of which was first issued as a legal tender piece in 1981 but until now has been struck only in limited quantities as commemorative coins.
The release of the new 2017 coins also represents the end of an era for the Isle of Man, a self-governed nation in the Irish Sea that falls under the responsibility of the United Kingdom (UK) government as a Crown Dependency. The small nation, which has a population of about 85,000 inhabitants and measures just 221 square miles in area, lacks a government-operated mint and thus turns to private minting firms for the production of legal-tender coinage. For some five decades, the Pobjoy Mint has ably handled that task. The English firm was established in 1965 and reigns as Europe’s largest private mint, having built a solid reputation for producing crisp, high-quality coinage.
The Isle of Man, which was the Pobjoy Mint’s first and oldest client, opened a public competition in February 2016 that prompted bid submissions by various private minting firms. The British Tower Mint won the coveted minting assignment and was awarded a 10-year contract to produce coinage for the island nation.
“The Treasury was impressed with the quality of the samples of circulating and commemorative coins provided in the tender process,” said Isle of Man Treasury member David Anderson in a statement. “Tower Mint was particularly impressive in its marketing capability and production of a rolling five-year plan for the sale and distribution of quality commemorative coin issues on a global basis.”
Tower Mint was founded in 1976 by sculptor Raphael Maklouf, who later designed the effigy of Queen Elizabeth II that debuted in 1985 on Commonwealth coinage; Maklouf’s design served as the primary obverse depiction of the Queen until it was replaced by Ian Rank-Broadley’s visage of Her Majesty that was introduced in 1998. The Tower Mint is widely known for producing medals for various organizations and companies, but it is no stranger to the production of legal tender coinage. Tower Mint also produces government coinage for the nations of Gibraltar, Tuvalu, Andorra, and Bank of Ghana.
The first strikes of the new Manx coinage took place on March 9, 2017. Several government officials from the Isle of Man were standing by as the first coin, a 50 pence piece, was born at the stroke of a button pushed by Paula Primrose, chief accountant for the Isle of Man Treasury Finance Division. Accompanying her was government Investment and Banking Manager Colin Campbell, who said the new coins are now entering circulation.
“We took delivery of the coins last week and they are with the Isle of Man Bank, and they are going to be distributing the coins through their network,” Campbell reported in an April 11 Manx Radio interview. “We will see the new coins going into circulation throughout the week and beyond,” he said.
Campbell added in another press statement that he and his colleagues at the Treasury are “very excited” about the new coinage and raved about their culturally significant designs.
“These motifs [on he coins] are quintessentially Manx. Our citizens are going to love each and every one of them.”
These are pleasing words to the ears of Maklouf, who helped facilitate the creation of the new Isle of Man coins at Tower Mint.
“The only thing I wanted was to make beautiful medals. And then Gibraltar happened and now the Isle of Man,” he said, recounting the growth of his private mint from its roots primarily as a medal manufacturer to its current role as producer of legal-tender coinage for various world governments. “We want to create coins which really suit the Isle of Man.”
All the new Isle of Man coins, officially released in an April 10 ceremony, feature a common obverse effigy of Queen Elizabeth II, which was designed by Jody Clark (View Designer's Profile) and debuted on circulating and commemorative coins in 2015. The reverse designs vary, featuring scenes evocative of the nation’s Gaelic-influenced culture, rich history, and vibrant wildlife.
Except for the 5 pound coin, all reverses depict the triskelion, a longstanding Celtic symbol encompassing three legs fanning out from a center point, within a circle above the coin’s primary reverse design feature. The coin’s denomination is expressed in two lines under the triskelion logo. Surrounding each of the reverse designs is a decorative Celtic-inspired border.
A triskelion serves as the main reverse design on the 5 pound coin, which the Isle of Man government is presently releasing into circulation to the tune of 20,000 pieces. Among the other coins are designs featuring the Tower of Refuge (2 pounds); peregrine falcon and raven (1 pound); a native breed of sheep known as the Manx Loaghtan (50 pence); a Viking longboat (20 pence); the island’s indigenous tailless breed of cat aptly known as a Manx (10 pence); and a type of seabird known as a Manx shearwater (5 pence).
The 2017 Isle of Man £1 Coin is distinctive in that it is round, much like the old UK 1 pound coin that was recently replaced by a 12-sided 1 pound coin. Incidentally, while UK coins are accepted for use in the Isle of Man, coins from the Isle of Man are not accepted as legal tender in the United Kingdom
The 2017 Isle of Man coins are produced in base metals for circulation. In addition to business strikes, the coins will be offered in proof varieties and sold to collectors in an array of numismatic formats and packaging options.
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