Every Boxing Day on the Isle of Man, communities come together across the island to dance and sing in the streets around “the king of all birds“, the wren, who is paraded around on a decorative pole.
Hunt the Wren, as it is known on the island, has become one of the most popular yet more unusual Manx traditions in practice today.
The practice dates back to Pagan times and is thought to have descended from Celtic mythology and may have been influenced by Scandinavian Viking settlers during the 8th and 10th centuries.
Historically groups of boys dressed up in straw outfits, known as ‘wren boys’ would gather on St Stephen’s Day (Boxing Day) to hunt a sacred wren bird. They would then tie the bird to the top of a decorative pole and visit different houses, singing to receive money or presents for their display. Those who were generous and gave money to the boys would receive a feather from the bird as a thank you, and the collected money was used to host a village dance later in January.
Today the Hunt the Wren tradition is still a popular part of the islands seasonal festivities, and many communities come together to dance and raise money for charity. A replica of a wren is used nowadays instead of harming any real birds, and ribbons which are used to decorate the pole are handed out as good luck instead of the bird feathers.
This unusual community tradition is so special on the Isle of Man that it has been celebrated on a brand new £2 coin and only a limited number of these coins will enter circulation on the island.
But it’s not the first time that the Hunt the Wren tradition has been celebrated on a coin, it was also featured on a 50p coin 24 years ago in 1994.
So to celebrate this new festive coin release from the Isle of Man, what better reason is there to take a look back at some of the festive designs issued on Isle of Man coinage over the years.
Here are a few of our favourites which show off how exciting Isle of Man coinage can be…
Just yesterday, the UK Royal Mint issued the first ever Christmas themed 50p coin to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the publication of Raymond Briggs’ much-loved festive tale The Snowman™. And it’s safe to say the demand for the much anticipated coin has been overwhelming. It has been so popular in fact that the Silver Proof and Gold versions of the coin have already completely SOLD OUT.
But the Isle of Man have been way ahead of the UK and have already issued a few 50p coins over the years featuring the much-loved children’s character the Snowman. Issued in 2003, the first coin to feature the Snowman and James, the hero of the story, holding hands and dancing had a tiny mintage of just 10,000. Although not many of these coins are available on the secondary market, if you did want to add one to your collection, you’d be looking at parting with a minimum of £200!
The same design was issued in 2008 although these coins were not struck for general circulation. Fast forward to 2014 and the coin features the Snowman and James hugging with a Christmas tree in the background. As we already know, this coin regularly sells for 80 times its face value on secondary market selling sites such as eBay.
The Isle of Man have issued a wide range of Christmas themed 50ps over the last 40 years and it’s safe to say that any of these festive 50p coins would definitely be an envious addition to anyone’s collection. The mintages for Isle of Man festive 50ps have never exceeded 30,000 most likely due to the island having a population of less than 85,000 so it’s no wonder the coins are so sought-after.
Let us know your favourite design ever issued on a festive coin and whether you’ve been able to add it to your collection.
Own the first Festive £2 coin from the Isle of Man
If you’re interested in coin collecting, our Change Checker web app is completely free to use and allows users to:
– Find and identify the coins in their pocket
– Collect and track the coins they have
– Swap their spare coins with other Change Checkers
Sign up today at: www.changechecker.org/app
Each year during May and June, the Isle of Man proudly hosts the International Isle of Man TT (Tourist Trophy) motorcycle event.
Since its inaugural race in 1907, the event has traditionally been a time-trial and is known by motoring enthusiasts world-wide as the ultimate road race.
This year, over 45,000 motorcycle racing fanatics from around the world are set to make their way to the Isle of Man to be in the heart of the action as they watch the unforgettable TT races.
Commemorating motoring legend, ‘Mike the Bike’
2018 celebrates 60 years since fan favourite, ‘Mike the Bike’ first raced the International Isle of Man TT and 40 years since he returned to the event.
Mike Haliwood secured 14 Isle of Man victories during his racing career and his triumphant return to the TT has been described as ‘one of the most emotional moments of 20th century sport’.
To mark this special anniversary year, two £2 coin designs have been officially licensed by the Isle of Man TT with the support of the Mike Haliwood foundation which promotes the TT Races and attracts new riding talent to the meeting.
Only 3,000 of each coin to enter circulation on the Isle of Man
The designs for the 2018 Isle of Man TT £2 coins reference the motorcycle races and Mike Hailwood’s legendary Ducati.
These limited edition £2 coins will be found on the Isle of Man, with only 3,000 entering circulation.
In 2015, an Isle of Man TT 50p was released and proved to be extremely popular with collectors, with one selling for £500 on eBay earlier this year.
Due to the popularity of the previous TT coin, we expect that these £2 will be very sought-after by collectors.
And, with only a very limited number entering circulation on the Isle of Man, Isle of Man based Change Checkers are sure to become the envy of collectors everywhere!
We are delighted to offer these very sought-after coins in Brilliant Uncirculated quality for just £15.99 (+£2.99p&p), so that you don’t miss out on owning these very limited Isle of Man £2 coins for your collection.