Physical Bitcoin as a Numismatic Collectible

In this article and others in upcoming blogs, I will be focusing on the emerging numismatic category of Physical Bitcoin and Cryptocurrency. Included will be observations and updates aimed at spreading awareness and creating discussion around these innovative collectibles. We have seen a growing collector interest in this category over the past two years and are very excited to see what is in store over the next two years and beyond.

We are just about two weeks away from the first of two physical crypto sessions in our November 2023 Showcase Auction. This event celebrates a full decade since the end of production for the Casascius series in 2013. New bidders in our November sale can also request a complimentary copy of the standard reference for the category, the Encyclopedia of Physical Bitcoins and Crypto-Currencies by Elias Ahonen—while supplies last.

We have several rarities from the final 2013 Casascius issue in the sale including two varieties of silver 1 Bitcoin as well as many additional offerings from earlier in the series. In last week’s U.S. Coin Blog, we discussed the significance of the Series 1 2011 Casascius 1 Bitcoin, of which we are featuring two in our upcoming November sale. Only after publishing did we notice a parallel to another iconic first-year type—the 1907 High Relief Saint-Gaudens double eagle.

Excluding the Ultra High Relief patterns, the 1907 High Relief $20 is considered to be the practical “prototype” for the Saint-Gaudens $20 issue. Much like the 2011 Casascius 1 Bitcoin, modifications were later made to the High Relief format to make it more practical for circulation, but the first incarnation remains the most highly prized by collectors. The two issues also exhibit a similar attrition ratio. The 1907 $20 boasts a mintage of 12,367 coins and only about 10,000 surviving, versus just over 6,000 struck for the Series 1 2011 1 Bitcoin and only about 4,000 loaded examples remaining.  While traditional numismatics and physical crypto may initially seem like disparate categories, many parallels and commonalities are easily uncovered.

Stepping back from the “physicals” category for a moment, it is also prudent to mention recent growth in the digital Bitcoin currency itself. Leading up to last year’s November sale, Bitcoin was trading at roughly $17,000.  It now sits at just around $34,000 and is joined by a strong gold price nearing $2,000 per ounce. With several Bitcoin ETFs currently under consideration by the Securities and Exchange Commission, there are indications of wider acceptance for Bitcoin among traditional investors which could have positive implications on the collectible “physicals” category, as well. It will be interesting to reflect on this a year from now leading up to our November 2024 sale!

If you have a topic that you would like addressed in a future SBG Crypto newsletter or have questions about our auctions, please feel free to reach me at [email protected]

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