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Clever Bitcoin not a two-bit operation

If I write that there is no such thing as Bitcoin, you would quite rightly call me on this. I would be wrong.

The financial headlines in recent weeks have shouted out that Bitcoin has been soaring in value, reaching record prices over $6,000 each.

Some eager speculators have been jumping in. So many have done so in China that the government cracked down and now prohibits trading in Bitcoin within the country.

This morning, while I checked on the price of gold ($1,277.10) and the price of silver ($16.97) on the Kitco website, I also checked Bitcoin. The current price is $5,511.90.

With such headlines being made, it is natural that a coin collector would send me the following email:

“Just a quick query: With the possible elimination of the 'bitcoin,' will there be a collectible market for this 'coin?' I was wondering since there are other areas of interest, i.e., transit, or sales tax tokens?

“Personally, I do have some shopping cart tokens from Europe. Yes, just like the quarters used at Aldi’s here in the states. Also, this can be a question of the week to ask online collectors. There can be some interest in this to get more opinions.”

I sent an immediate reply:

“Bitcoin has no physical existence. It is just a computer ledger entry. What you see are artists renditions and privately made pieces that call themselves Bitcoins.”

You have to give credit to whoever named Bitcoin.

It has heft.

When a numismatist thinks of Bitcoin, he thinks of the renditions of it he sees online where artists make it appear like an actual coin.

This is misleading. But what else would artists draw of something intangible that has a name like this?

Online news stories feel compelled to have an image with their posted stories.

In addition, there have been attempts to wed the intangible with the tangible.

Years ago, Numismatic News ran a story about collectible Bitcoins, which in effect was a privately produced medal to which the creator dedicated a certain Bitcoin value online to each piece.

It certainly did not catch on with my readers.

I understand there was a government crackdown on such a tie-in.

Nowadays, you can find all sorts of rounds in various metals with the Bitcoin name.

They have no electronic cryptocurrency value.

These probably will be collectible, but like new U.S. Mint issues, it is wiser to buy these medals on the secondary market after their initial retail prices have sunk.

Buzz blogger Dave Harper won the Numismatic Literary Guild Award for Best Blog for the third time in 2017 . He is editor of the weekly newspaper "Numismatic News."

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