In 2017 the Isle of Man marks the 150th anniversary of the first popular election to the House of Keys, previously a self-elected body. Tynwald wanted to take the opportunity to mark this significant anniversary in Manx political history and asked Isle of Man Treasury for a 50 pence coin to be commissioned that would be presented to all-Island school children.
The Hon Juan Watterson, Speaker of the House of Keys, said:
“Democracy, the right to vote, has only existed for 150 years out of Tynwald’s 1000 year existence. It was hard won. People have petitioned, fought, been put in prison and even died for the right to vote. In the Isle of Man this year we are celebrating 150 years since the first public elections to the House of Keys.”
Members of the House of Keys will visit every school on the Island to talk to pupils and present the coin packs. The majority of visits will take place this week, 150 years after the first public elections of the House of Keys took place in the period 2nd to 5th April 1867.
The coin design is taken from a famous print published in the Illustrated London News in 1867 showing the crowds waiting to hear the election results outside the Old Courthouse on Atholl Street. The 50 pence piece is a circulating coin but with a limited edition of 35,000.
Colin Campbell, the Investment and Banking Manager of Treasury, said:
“Treasury is delighted to be able to assist in the celebration with all concerned regarding the issue of a new 50 pence coin, the first officially minted by Treasury’s new Mint, Tower Mint. We are pleased with the production of the coin and the design, specially selected by the Office of Tynwald which we hope accurately depicts the excitement and atmosphere outside the Old Courthouse in 1867.
We hope the coin is well received and is a prelude to the issue of a new set of Manx decimal coins on the 10th April.”
The coin presented to students comes in a commemorative presentation pack with one of the four bespoke stamps provided by Isle of Man Stamps and Coins. The first class stamp selected is one of four panoramic stamps released by Isle of Man Post Office in 2017 that illustrate the journey to popular elections in the House of Keys in the 1800s.
Maxine Cannon, general manager of Isle of Man Stamps and Coins said:
"We were delighted to be involved with this government initiative, which sees every Isle of Man school child receive a special commemorative presentation pack containing a Treasury 50 pence and one of our 150th Anniversary of the First General Election of the House of Keys stamps. The designs for each stamp were selected and sourced by our Stamps and Coins stamp issue co-ordinator Paul Ford who then worked very closely with local designer Emma Cooke to bring the stamp issue and coin packaging together so successfully and to wide acclaim."
This event is the culmination of months of hard work. The Office of the Clerk of Tynwald would like to take this opportunity to thank all the schools involved, the Department of Education and Children, the Treasury, Isle of Man Stamps and Coins and Manx National Heritage.