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Liberty Seated Coinage and the Lealana Bitcoin Series

One of the most common questions that I am asked concerning physical crypto is how to approach building a collection in this category. Fortunately, the answer is relatively simple in that the very same collecting approaches used for traditional rare coins also apply to physical crypto. These approaches are endlessly customizable, but some of the most popular ones include focusing on a particular country, series, denomination, composition, date, or other characteristics.

Of course, one of the most straightforward and satisfying collecting approaches to any category is assembling a type set. A common framework for building a type set is to select a series and acquire an example of each denomination in that series. While there are many great candidates for this among physical crypto, perhaps no series is better suited to this approach than the Lealana series. Lealana coins are noted for exceptional production quality and are considered one of the most coveted producers of the classic crypto era from 2011 through 2013. Many coins from this series were distributed as part of matched four coin Proof sets that included the denominations 0.1 BTC, 0.25 BTC, 0.50 BTC and a full 1 BTC, mirroring the conventional dollar denominations of the U.S. Mint. During 2022, we had the pleasure of offering matched Proof sets of both 2013 Lealana coins and 1855 Liberty Seated coins and the results offer up a few interesting observations. 

Despite being the smallest denomination, the 0.1 BTC is one of the most prized of the Lealana series and consistently commands the strongest collectible premiums by percentage. It is also the denomination responsible for the origins of the SBG Crypto program, which was launched by the sale of a 0.1 BTC in November 2021. In our April 2022 sale, we sold an example of the Serialized, Black Address variety with a reported mintage of 490 coins. It realized $15,600, which was more than a 400% premium against the face value at the time of the sale. Later in the year, we presented a Proof 1855 dime in our November sale that is one of only about 20 examples known and it sold for $22,000.

Both the 0.25 BTC and 0.5 BTC might be considered sleeper issues of the Lealana series, generally attracting less attention than their 0.1 BTC and 1 BTC siblings but remaining far more elusive on the market. The examples in our Aprill 2022 sale boasted mintages of 290 pieces each—200 fewer than the 0.1 BTC. The 0.25 BTC realized $38,400, or about a 400% premium, and the 0.5 BTC sold for $66,000 which was equivalent to a 350% premium. The 1855 Liberty Seated counterparts boasted populations of about 20 coins each for the quarter and half dollar. They also brought similar prices, with the quarter selling for $21,000 and the half dollar earning $22,200.

The capstones to the 2013 Lealana set and the 1855 Liberty Seated set were examples of the full 1 bitcoin and 1 dollar denominations, respectively. The Lealana 1 BTC featured the same low mintages of the middle denominations at just 290 struck. It sold for an astounding price of $108,000—about 280% of the face value—which set an auction record for the 1 Bitcoin denomination that stands to this day. The 1855 Liberty Seated dollar also claimed the top price among the coins in that set, realizing $36,000 against an estimated population of about 60 known.

Overall, the four-coin 2013 Lealana set realized a combined price of $228,000, while the four coins from the 1855 Liberty Seated Proof set realized a total of $101,400.

Collecting by type is just the tip of the numismatic iceberg, and we will discuss additional collecting approaches to this category in future SBG crypto articles. If you have an unconventional or particularly satisfying approach you would like to share, please be sure to reach out! Before signing off this week, I also wanted to note that we will have staff attending two numismatic conventions in early January 2024: the Florida United Numismatists (FUN) show in Orlando and the New York International Numismatic Convention (NYINC) show here in New York City. We will be accepting consignments in all categories at each show, so please let me know if you would like to arrange a meeting with someone from our team. For more information about our Cryptocurrency auctions, please feel free to reach out to me at [email protected].

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