Two-Headed Coins - How Much is My Two-Headed Coin Worth?

A Two-Headed Jefferson Nickel
A Two-Headed Jefferson Nickel. Image Copyright: © 2016 James Bucki

One of the most frequently asked questions is "How much is a two-headed coin worth?" People have found these coins in circulation and hope that they've found some valuable and rare mint error. What is the truth about two-headed (and two-tailed) coins?

Is My Two-Headed Coin Genuine?

A two-headed coin is worth very little, usually between $3 to $10, depending on how well it's made and what the face value of the coin is.

Two-headed coins that you find in circulation or buy at swap meets are not produced by the U.S. Mint, even in error; they have been made as a novelty device, or for use in magician's tricks.

There have been anecdotal reports of two genuine two-headed quarters having been found in the safety deposit box of a deceased San Francisco Mint worker. Both of these coins are supposedly in grading service slabs, which is why you won't find them in circulation. Even if these tales are true, it is a sure thing that no two-headed U.S. coins could ever possibly have entered circulation. Any two-headed U.S. coin you find in pocket change is a novelty item. That is 100% certain! Now that we've got that down, learn how two-headed coins are made, and how to tell whether the two-headed coin you have is a genuine mint error or not.

How Are Two-Headed Coins Made?

Two headed coins are made by taking two identical coins of the same denomination and machining them to approximately half the thickness of the original coin.

The two halves are then fused together by either welding or soldering the two halves together. This usually leaves a seam on the edge of the coin where the soldering has oozed out. The machinist will then grind and polish the edge of the coin in order to hide the seam.

The U.S. Mint Can't Make Two-Headed Coins

In order to assure the high quality standards that the United States Mint adheres to, the production process makes it virtually impossible for a two-headed (or two-tailed) coin to be manufactured by the Mint.

The coining presses that are used to produce United States coins have two different shaped receptacles for the coin dies. When coin dies are manufactured, the shank of the coin die for the obverse is a different shape than the shank of the coin die for the reverse. This makes it virtually impossible for a coin press operator to load two obverse (or two reverse) dies into the coin press.

Almost a Two-Headed Coin Made by the United States Mint

Although it is technically not a two-headed coin, the United States Mint did make several coins in error that had the obverse of a United States Washington quarter dollar and the reverse of a Sacajawea one dollar coin. These types of coins are technically known as "mules." In other words, coin dies from two different coins which were not intended to be used together were used to produce a single coin.

The Washington quarter Sacajawea dollar mule was first discovered in May 2000 when Frank Wallis from Arkansas discovered one while searching rolls of one dollar coins. Since then, a total of 15 examples have been found and verified as authentic. Uncirculated examples have sold for between $30,000 and $75,000, with most specimens selling for around $50,000.

 

Edited by: James Bucki