What exactly is a physical bitcoin? In short, they are real metal coins, and some of them hold the private keys that control digital bitcoins (or other crypto-currencies). Often, these private keys are behind tamper-proof hologram stickers. The coins are collectible, and some of them are very valuable, up to millions of dollars each. They were originally created as educational tools, and are interesting to study because they are physical artifacts of the blockchain revolution. This page is dedicated to them.
“Physical crypto-currency is worthy of study because it is evidence of the notable technological and social progress relating to the continued development of a new system of value. The concept of a digital currency that is based on mathematical principles is simply revolutionary, and will in one way or another eventually reshape the world and society in which we live. These coins are the artifacts of that future.”
Physical Bitcoin represents a new way to understand money. It takes the image of national currency coins – their materials, denomination, images, text, and security features – and either adds digital value (funded coins) or depicts a representation of that digital value (unfunded coins). Participants in the physical Bitcoin community emphasize the coins’ digital features but, perhaps paradoxically, display the result in ‘conventional’ coin format. Funded physical Bitcoin are metal coins which contain the prefix of a public address and a private key (12). The public address is openly depicted on the coin or contained on a certificate while the private key is concealed behind a tamper-proof hologram (13) or, less often, by a sticker or, even more rarely, engraved on the side of the coin (14). If the hologram is opened, the private key can be swept into a wallet which transfers the crypto-currency from the coin’s public address to one provided by the wallet software. Producers use holograms to make counterfeiting more difficult and to prevent unscrupulous users from copying the private key then re-selling the coin. Private keys should be kept secret as their controller ‘owns’ the associated crypto-currency. The producers of unfunded coins often provide a public address and private key so that buyers can self-fund the public address should they wish.
The image above reveals how the private key is added and extracted from a coin. The first photograph shows the private key being inserted into a pit on the back of the coin. The second displays the completed coin with the private key concealed behind the sealed hologram. The third denotes the private key after the hologram has been removed. The fourth photograph indicates that the hologram has a considerably different appearance after it has been opened. This change is a security measure which reports that the private key has been accessed.
Physical bitcoins fall into various classes, which were defined as follows in the creation of the Encyclopedia of Physical Bitcoins and Crypto-Currencies:
Pre-Funded (PF) – the coin is directly funded by the manufacturer. Buyer Funded (BF) – the buyer directly funds the coin before it is shipped. Unfunded (UF) – shipped with a sealed private key but without loaded value. Do It Yourself (DIY) – the owner can affix a private key and hologram. Rounds (R) – the coin does not have the capacity to contain a private key.
Buy Rare Coins
Through the extensive research required to create the create this site and a continuous high-profile presence in the collector community, CRYPTONUMIST has unprecedented knowledge and access when it comes to locating the most sought-after coins around the world for the most serious collectors. These include the legendary 1,000 BTC coins and bars which are among the most valuable coins in the world.
Cryptonumist does not maintain public ‘for sale’ listings. We are not a ‘retail’ sales platform, and instead work directly with buyers to find the specific coins they are after and broker the transaction if appropriate. This Bespoke Brokerage Service is reserved for serious buyers looking for coins valued above $10,000 (usually well above $100,000). We do however welcome inquiries about more generic coins, and will often forward these to other qualified experts.
We are often asked what coins are currently available. Considering these coins are generally owned as investments, the simple answer is that just about all coins are available and for sale through our contacts for the right price.
If you want to BUY a certain rare coin, please email email@example.com with your request, along with information about the city/country you are located in. PLEASE NOTE that 95% of sellers will only accept BTC or other crypto-currencies, NOT cash or wire transfers etc. We will contact potential sellers of the coin(s), and communicate with you regarding progress. We will not share your identity with potential sellers. To facilitate high value transactions, we have personally flown around the world on several occasions to pick up and deliver coins in-person. Cryptonumist will
sometimes issue detailed certificates for coins.
If you want to SELL a rare coin, please email firstname.lastname@example.org with information including photos, your city/country, and asking price (specify whether you want BTC or Fiat, etc). All email is reviewed and noted, and you will be notified of potential offers. Please do not send sell requests for any coin you know to be valued below $1,000.
The list below contains examples of coins we are happy to help you buy:
Series 1 Casascius 1,000 BTC 2011 Gold Coin (Loaded)
Series 2 Casascius 1,000 BTC 2011 Gold Coin (Loaded)
Series 1 Casascius 1,000 BTC 2011 Bar (Loaded)
Series 2 Casascius 500 BTC 2011 Bar (Loaded)
Series 1 Casascius 100 BTC 2011 Bar (Loaded)
Series 2 Casascius 100 BTC 2011 Bar (Loaded)
Series 2 Casascius 100 BTC 2011 ‘Unfunded Bar’
Series 2 Casascius 100 BTC 2011 ‘2FA Unfunded Bar’
Series 1 Casascius 1,000 BTC 2011 (redeemed)
Series 2 Casascius 1,000 BTC 2011 ‘2FA Unfunded Bar’
Series 2 Casascius 0.5 BTC 2013 ‘Silver Error’ (Loaded)
Series 1 Casascius 1 BTC 2011 ‘Demo Coin’
Series 1 Casascius 1 BTC 2011 ‘Double Error’ (Loaded)
Series 1 Casascius 1 BTC 2011 ‘Error’ (Loaded MS-68)
Series 1 Casascius 25 BTC 2011 (First ever 25 BTC coin graded by ANACS)
Complete set of the 1, 5, 10, and 20 BTC BitBills
Crypto Imperator 100,000 Doge Silver Ed. ‘SuperDoge’ (Loaded)
Crypto Imperator 1/2 Troy Oz .999 Fine Gold 1 Million Dogecoin (Loaded)
Cryptolator Unchained Antique Copper Series
Cryptolator Unchained Antique Bronze Series
MJB Monetary Metals Series 1 Silver
MJB Monetary Metals Series 2 Silver
Jinn Physical Bitcoin
AND MORE (please inquire)
Buy The Book
Now direct from the author, cheaper than any other distributor!
The softcover is great for those who are passively interested in physical crypto-coins, while the much larger hardcover version is not only an amazing piece to display, but comes with updates and revisions!
Encyclopedia of Physical Bitcoins and Crypto-Currencies, Revised Edition (Hardcover)
$137 USD FREE Shipping worldwide Paperback: 286 pages Language: English ISBN-13: 978-0995089921 Dimensions: 8.5 x 0.9 x 11 inches Shipping Weight: 2.6 pounds
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Encyclopedia of Physical Bitcoins and Crypto-Currencies
$89 USD FREE Shipping worldwide Paperback: 270 pages Language: English ISBN-13: 978-0995089907 Dimensions: 6.1 x 0.7 x 9.2 inches Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds
Item ships within 5 days from USA, UK, or Australia depending on destination.
This Encyclopedia explores the recent phenomenon of physical crypto-currency and the infrastructure that surrounds it.
These are metal coins that reference various crypto-currencies of which Bitcoin is currently the most prominent. Many of these coins are funded with digital currency that can be extracted and used at will. Others are themed to celebrate the emergence of digital currency.
The new hobby of collecting physical Bitcoin and related crypto-currencies has created an expanding industry in which dozens of companies and individuals create and sell their coins to a growing market of collectors. This work covers 57 such manufacturers. There is also a thriving trade in pre-owned coins. Physical crypto-currencies have become rare objects with the highest value sale to date reaching one million dollars on the re-sale market.
This Encyclopedia provides the intrigued reader with an in-depth understanding of the subject and equips the collector with an excellent reference source.
Physical crypto-currency is worthy of study because it is evidence of the notable technological and social progress relating to the continued development of a new system of value. The concept of a digital currency that is based on mathematical principles is simply revolutionary, and will in one way or another eventually reshape the world and society in which we live.