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SBG Crypto: Gilt Pattern Coins in Physical Bitcoin and Beyond

Physical crypto coins are produced in a wide variety of compositions including gold, silver, platinum, titanium, brass, nickel, copper, clay composite. These compositions are then subject to a variety of different finishes including mirrored Proof finishes, antique and matte finishes, and special iridescent rainbow finishes.

Also popular among physical bitcoins is the use of gold-plated, or gilt finishes. This gilt treatment has a long history among pattern coins produced by the U.S. Mint, stretching back through the mid-19th century and used most frequently during the 1860s and 1870s. Typically struck in copper or aluminum, the gilt finish provides collectors access to issues that were either never struck in gold or for which gold strikings are found in the National Numismatic Collection in the Smithsonian Institution.

Many of these gilt patterns are tremendous rarities in their own right. A gilt pattern 1877 $50, Judd-1547, sold for $143,750 in one of our 2004 sale, while a gilt pattern 1861 $20, Judd-288, brought $115,000 in 2005. The famous Amazonian Pattern series also boasts many gilt rarities, including a gilt $2.50 that we sold for $25,875 and a gilt $5 that we sold for $17,250. Perhaps some of the most popular gilt patterns are the gilt $4 Stellas, which present collectors with a more approachable entry into this legendary type compared to those actually struck in gold. We sold a fantastic gilt 1879 $4 Coiled Hair Stella for $129,250 in 2017.

Producers within the Physical Bitcoin category have similarly utilized the gilt finish to emphasize special issues. Most notable are the pattern coins from the Lealana series, which feature an array of experimental features including a bold gilt finish. In our Spring 2023 sale, we offered a complete six-piece set of these pattern coins sourced from the Lealana archives. Featuring BTC denominations from 0.1 BTC to 1 BTC, the set realized more than $100,000 in total including a 0.1 BTC that sold for $7,200 and a 1 BTC that sold for $44,400.

We are now in the process of finalizing our Spring 2024 Crypto Auction, which will feature a stunning gilt Pattern Lealana 0.25 BTC graded Proof-69 Deep Cameo. This will be presented alongside dozens of other physical crypto rarities including silver and brass Casascius coins, a variety of silver denominations from the Lealana series, popular BTCC poker chips, and representatives of virtually all the most popular and desirable types. For questions about the Spring sale or to order a copy of the catalog, please feel free to reach out to me at [email protected].

I will close this week by announcing that Stack’s Bowers Galleries will officially be attending the 2024 Bitcoin Conference in Nashville in July! We look forward to meeting collectors and spreading further awareness about the physical bitcoin category. Select auction highlights will be available for preview at our booth, as well as copies of our August 2024 Crypto Auction catalog. We will also be accepting pre-approved consignments of all categories.  Please be sure to reach out if you plan on attending!

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