St Helena Online

Heads win every time with Ascension’s jubilee coin

Ascension's £5 coin showing two heads of the Queen, side by sideIf the person at the bar suggests calling heads or tails to decide who pays for the drinks, just make sure they’re not holding the new Ascension Island £5 coin.

It’s got heads on both sides.

And not only that, but one side has not just the Queen’s head, as usual, but two of them: one as Her Majesty appears on coins today, and one as she was depicted at the start of her 60-year reign.

The departure from convention is permitted because the coin has been struck to mark the Diamond Jubilee, which is being celebrated around the world – including in the South Atlantic – on 4 June 2012.

It’s not just the unique double-headed face that has got numismatists excited, according to Michael Alexander, writing on the Coin Update website.

“This stunning new coin,” he says, “features a side portrait of the Queen wearing St Edward’s Crown, with the highest relief that has ever been produced on a coin.”

The high-relief image of the Queen on the Ascension coinThat means the head stands out from the flat background. Such high-relief engraving is usually reserved for medallions, rather than coins. “The technique, which requires a greater degree of striking pressure, results in a design which appears much sharper and more detailed.”

As with so many things marking either the Diamond Jubilee or the London Olympics, a numerical pun is involved: exactly 2,012 of the coins are being issued in silver, and another 1,952 in gold (to mark the Queen’s accession on 6 February 1952).

And now, a true story.

A friend of this website paid £80 for a fifty pence coin that had heads on both sides. He was a magician, and proposed to use the coin in a trick one evening. By the time he arrived at the venue, he was more than a little upset. On his way to the gig, he’d stopped at the village pub to calm his nerves, and had spent his £80 coin on a pint of lager.

He did not say, “Flip”.

SEE ALSO:
Island prepares to join Queen’s diamond jubilation

LINKS:
Pobjoy Mint
Ascension’s jubilee coin – Coin Update

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