Bitcoin (BTC) is a cryptocurrency with an already rich history (in many senses of the word). Did you know, for example, that beyond the BTC we see every day, there are physical Casascius bitcoins? These come in the form of coins or bars loaded with bitcoins, coins that are now so rare that they often exceed the value of their contents alone.
Casascius bitcoins, highly prized collectibles
Mike Caldwell, managing partner at Casascius Capital, created Casascius bitcoins between 2011 and 2013. Specifically, he manufactured coins and bars containing BTC and set up series:
- The first series: 1 to 1,000 BTC ;
- The second series: 0.5 to 500 BTC + DIY storage bars;
- The third series: 0.5 to 1 BTC.
It is important to note that the Casascius physical BTC collection is now more scarce than the “real” digital BTC. These Caldwell creations feature a tamper-resistant holographic sticker on one side of the coin. The private key to the digital bitcoin is located underneath this sticker.
Unfortunately, the U.S. government banned the issuance of these physical Bitcoins in 2013. Caldwell had produced about 27,920 of them up to that point.
These physical Casascius Bitcoins have gained significant numismatic value. As a result, the coins and bars have quickly become coveted collectibles for bitcoiners. Their value is higher than the face value of the BTC loaded on them.
Indeed, a physical silver Casascius bitcoin loaded with 0.1 BTC dating from 2013 sells for $20,000. A rare unloaded 125 BTC physical Casascius aluminum coin, meanwhile, trades for $4,995.
2 billion of BTC Casascius awaiting activation
According to information reported by Bitcoin.com among others, there are only 19,920 physical Casascius BTCs left, waiting to be activated as of today. It should be noted that 8,009 coins and ingots have been exchanged over the past decade.
43,000 BTC, worth nearly $2 billion, have never been withdrawn. 48,169 BTC have been spent via peel, a process that involves the redemption of the value of loaded bitcoins by the owners of the coins or bars.
Bitcoin has come a long way since its inception, reaching an ATH of over $64,000, becoming a legal tender in El Salvador, and stirring strong emotions in the markets between crashes and exponential growth. Will Bitcoin’s rich history eventually cause the value of unloaded Casascius coins or bars to explode far above the value of the digital BTCs they contained? We’ll have to follow the story to the end to find out.