That's the very first word exclaimed by Mike Diamond, a CONECA board member, upon seeing a scanned picture of the coin I'd recently found.
I don't blame Mike for that outburst. I, too, had the shock of my life early in August when I first came across the half dollar from a bank roll. As soon as I flipped it over to see its date, my mind went into a sudden frenzy as I tried to make sense of what I was looking at in front of me. Staring right at my face were the easily recognizable wings of an eagle from a quarter. The moment I realized its head was facing to the right (instead of to the left as on a normal pre-statehood quarter), my arms went absolutely limp. Omigosh, it was an entire quarter imprinted inside of a half dollar! You could easily see the year 1981 on the obverse of the half dollar. Oh, man, that must mean it had been "floating" around in an ocean of halves for some 23 years before it got "caught" and hauled in!
The half dollar's reverse, diameter and rim all appear to be normal. The only thing that seems abnormal about it is that 100% brockage of a quarter on its obverse.
Yet, what Mike mentioned next regarding the piece came as another big shock.
He said during our conversation that "it looks like the quarter itself was an error coin, perhaps slightly off-center." And, he went on: "ordinarily, you'd get the entire design along with a nice rim impression, on this brockage, the letters toward the bottom are cut off, while the letters at top seem a little distant from the edge of the indentation."
While he agreed that "the odds are staggering" for an error quarter to fall and lay atop of a half-dollar planchet that is about to become an error piece also, he added, "but every other example of this error type I've seen features a full, symmetrical mirror brockage."
So, it might be a case of an off-center quarter that fell and rested atop of a half-dollar planchet prior to being struck by the dies. Result: a phantasmagoria, which, according to Merriam-Webster, is "a bizarre or fantastic combination, collection, or assemblage." In other words, "one in a million or 100 million," as Mike puts it.
Speaking of odds, on the other day, I came upon a realization while marveling at this possibly unique two-tailed Kennedy half dollar -- namely that one could easily make wagers with it. Next time when someone offers to make a bet with you that he has a genuine two-tailed coin, think twice.
Heads you lose, tails I win.
[Note from author: After this article was written for CONECA's May/June, 2005 issue of Errorscope, this error half dollar was submitted to NGC and came back slabbed at MS-64 with this designation: "1981 P 50C OBVERSE INDENTED BY STRUCK 25C MINT ERROR." ]