- physical bitcoin: casacius
- physical bitcoins: worth more than what they have?
- alitin mint and other physical bitcoins
- frequently asked questions
If you are reading this, chances are you are interested in cryptocurrencies. If that’s the case, you’ll know that in its simplest form, a cryptocurrency is a virtual currency that only exists as data. but, if you want to have a physical representation of your digital assets, then there is a way to do it, through physical cryptocurrency. this is a real-world token, usually having a code that can be redeemed for crypto. In this article, we will tell you about some of them, how they work, and what happened to them.
The first thing to note is that the vast majority of physical cryptocurrencies are physical bitcoins. This is for a number of reasons, but the most notable is that bitcoin is the largest and oldest crypto. in fact, it could be argued that, for many people, bitcoin and cryptocurrencies are interchangeable. There’s also the fact that when a lot of physical bitcoin was being minted, its rivals weren’t even in circulation. therefore, while there are other physical cryptocurrencies, the majority of real-world cryptocurrencies are in bitcoin.
Reading: Is bitcoin a physical coin
physical bitcoin: casacius
one of the best known physical cryptocurrencies is casacius. Beginning in 2011, Bitcoin user Mike Caldwell minted a range of physical currency, containing a range of Bitcoin from a 0.5 BTC token and 1 BTC brass coin to a 1,000 BTC gold-plated bar. To cash in their bitcoin, buyers would remove a holographic sticker to reveal a key. this process was called peeling.
In 2013, however, Caldwell closed his business after being told by the US government that he was breaking the law by minting coins. The United States Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (Fincen) said Caldwell was operating as a de facto money transmitter and would need to register at the federal level. Instead of doing this, Caldwell, who had minted 27,938 variable value coins, stopped minting loaded coins.
despite the closure, casacius coins are still worth something. According to CasasciusTracker, most of the tokens were still wrapped. As of May 12, 2022, there were 19,613 active coins, compared to 8,325 that had been redeemed. even if we assume that all active coins are worth 1 btc, that would mean that there is more than $540 million worth of bitcoins floating around in the tokens. in reality, there is almost certainly much, much more.
physical bitcoins: are they worth more than what they contain?
One of the many interesting things about physical bitcoins is their value. you would expect a material version of crypto to be worth what the crypto itself is worth, but due to the comparative rarity and collectability of physical currency, it is often worth more. this is especially true if and when a range ceases to be minted. For example, in September 2021, a 2012 1 BTC Casascius coin, which had been peeled, was listed on eBay for $1,999.99. the item sold to a private bidder. Although the actual sale price was not made public, it seems fair to assume that it could not have been much less than the indicated value.
Meanwhile, in September 2021, a roll of 125 downloaded Casacius coins was available on eBay for $4,995. the fact that the seller was able to list what is ultimately a worthless set of aluminum discs for such a high price says something about the numismatic value of the tokens. And in January 2022, an unpeeled 1 BTC Casascius coin sold for 4.5 BTC, the equivalent of just under $150,000 worth of Bitcoin at the time. In May 2022, an empty and redeemed 1 BTC Casascius coin was listed on eBay for $595, which seemed to be somewhere around the going rate.
alitin mint and other physical bitcoins
although the casacius collection is probably the best known physical cryptography, there are others. For example, Alitin Mint, based in Springfield, Missouri, made two coins. one featured economist adam smith and was loaded with two bitcoins and the other featured joan of arc and came loaded with one bitcoin. A total of 600 coins of each type, which were designed by sculptor John Bandelin, were minted in 2014 and retailed for 2.92 BTC and 1.45 BTC respectively. what is notable here is, of course, the margin of the physical object. there is 46% for the largest value token and 45% for the smallest, which would be around $170 extra on top of the $378 a bitcoin was worth at the end of 2014.
However, just because Alitin Mint coins were physical didn’t mean they were safe. On February 26, 2017, hackers broke in and stole the code for the coins. This was two years after the company went out of business, according to company co-founder Richard Forsyth, who said, “We’re probably out of the physical bitcoin business forever at this point. it is not easy to recover from such a devastating blow.”
explaining why the company went bankrupt, forsyth said: “we just didn’t sell enough coins and the regulatory environment became more complicated and costly than we expected. our original plan was to offer high grade numismatic coins with bitcoin codes attached to offer a secure product that would at least partially bridge the gap between the less risk averse and tech savvy on the one hand and those who were interested in bitcoin but they refused to do so. buying something completely virtual.
“We thought it could help skeptics get into bitcoin by offering them something tangible for their purchases; something physical to hold on to, but an entry into the bitcoin market. we started with the price of $80 btc but things got out of control on the btc price and this blew up our sales because our products were too expensive too early for most interested customers.
“Furthermore, compliance became so costly and time consuming that our business naturally became insolvent.”
we contacted forsyth to ask if there was any progress in the investigation and what he was doing now, but received no response.
There are, or have been, many more physical bitcoins in circulation. These include Titan Bitcoin, Antana, and Lealana, which also had a physical Litecoin crypto. In The Encyclopedia of Physical Bitcoins and Cryptocurrencies, author Elias Ahonen lists 57 independent physical cryptocurrency manufacturers. it is quite possible that there are more.