Double-headed cheating penny used in two-up gambling games, Australia

Made in Australia, Oceania, 1911-1935.

‘Apart from the occasional madman who risked his neck by running a [two-up] school with a double-headed penny, two-up schools were generally fair and well run.’ (Peter Charlton 1987 p258).

In gambling pastimes such as the Australian game of ‘two-up’ the inclusion of a double-sided coin ensured the cheating player could be assured of a win. In the case of ‘two-up’, money was wagered on varying combinations of single and multiple tosses of two or three pennies thrown from a wooden paddle or ‘kip’...


Double-headed bronze (copper-alloy) penny composed from two separately minted pennies, pared down and the two joined as one. Obverse (front) and Reverse with crowned head of king George V and the legend: GEORGIUS V D.G.BRITT / OMN.REX.F.D.IND:IMP:


2 mm


This coin is composed from two Australian pennies produced during the reign of the British king George V. Each coin had been shaved down to half its depth leaving only the obverse (front) side with the king's head. The two were then joined [soldered] together to form a single double-headed coin. With close inspection the seam between the two coins can be viewed with the naked eye.

The date of a penny is on the reverse (ONE PENNY side of each penny which in this example are missing so the exact dates of the coins are not known. Each king's head wears a crown so we can be sure the coin was composed of Australian coins rather than British which were without a crown. The coins show some wear and tear from general circulation prior to conversion making them likely combined into the 'cheating penny' at the earliest during World War I (1914-1918) and at the latest World War II depending on when the original coins were minted.

Paul Donnelly,
Curator design and history


Gift of Neil Radford, 2008
4 November, 2008

Cite this Object

Double-headed cheating penny used in two-up gambling games, Australia 2016, Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, accessed 23 July 2017, <>
{{cite web |url= |title=Double-headed cheating penny used in two-up gambling games, Australia |author=Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences |access-date=23 July 2017 |publisher=Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, Australia}}
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