Barney M. writes: How do they create a “two-headed” coin? I have a half dollar that I guess is the creation of a prankster, who joined two separate coins, but it seems like this would be an incredibly difficult thing to accomplish just for kicks. If they did, each coin would have to have been cut in half and joined because the thickness is the same as that of a normal half dollar coin.
If you have access to a machine shop and know how to use the tools found there, you can create some spectacular items. Coins used in magic tricks are a case in point (see the FAQ article “Magic Coins“). These coins appear to have two heads or two tails but these aren’t made this way at the Mint. There is a big difference on how obverse and reverse dies are constructed and how they function in a Mint Press. It is not probable that you would be able to attach two obverse or reverse dies to a particular press.
Even if this could happen, the coins are dumped into a small hopper that runs on railroad tracks and a Mint employee examines samples of coins coming from each coin press. He or she, and others, would certainly notice that all the coins coming from that press had only one side.
Just to be certain, you can weigh your coin; clad half dollars weigh 11.34 grams. Machine shop composites (magic or magician’s coins) are usually hollowed out shells made from two coins. Sometimes, lead is added to add weight but the finished composite is not likely to weigh 11.34 grams.
In reality, you can purchase two headed or two tailed coins at a magic shop. The technique in making these coins involves two coins. One is hollowed out to the rim, the other coin has its rim and reverse removed. The second coin is inserted into the first so that the seam between the two is at the rim and virtually unnoticeable. There is absolutely no evidence of tampering on the edge.
The duple coins are often underweight since they are partially hollow inside. They also fail the “ring” test (balance a coin on your finger and tap it with a pencil, it should have a bell like quality. Coins that sound dead, are not a continuous piece of metal so the sound stops at breaks between the joined pieces).
Invariably these coins get spent by accident and people are startled to find them in their change. Take a visit to a Magic/Novelty Shop and ask to see these interesting creations.