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.”
That 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”.