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Is Online Collecting Next?

Coin collectors are used to being able to see, touch, and examine their coins. They can share their coins with others. They can belong to clubs. They can visit coin shows. They can bid at auctions. The stuff is physical.


Coin collecting remains popular worldwide, even though there are indications the number of active collectors in the United States has been on the decline for some time.

When I say coin collecting has remained popular worldwide, I mean physical coin collecting. What about collecting coins online? You own the coin, but the coin isn’t a physical entity. It only exists in cyberspace. It is real. You paid real money to purchase it. It can be spent—online. It can be viewed—online. People invest in cybermoney just as they do in bullion price impacted coins such as the Silver American Eagle, Austrian gold Philharmonic and many other physical coins. Cybermoney needs to be protected, but you don’t need a safe or to pay a fee to have someone else to store it for you.

There aren’t any coin dealers selling online coins, or are there? They may belong to national or regional coin collecting organizations if they sell physical coins as well, they certainly don’t belong if their only product is something from cyberspace.

The question coin collectors, as well as governments and financial institutions, debate regards if cryptocurrencies are real money? What makes these nebulous things have value is they are decentralized? The individual has more control and security over his digital money. Furthermore, the individual doesn’t have to deal with third party middlemen when buying, selling, or transacting with these forms of currency. A government can’t draw a line around where these forms of money can be used or must be exchanged for another currency.

Wait a minute. Doesn’t this appear as if you are using bullion valued coins, but you don’t have to worry about using a bank, broker, or other middleman? Doesn’t this sound eerily similar to the bullion 0.999 fine silver Liberty dollar issues produced by Bernard von NotHaus? Von NotHaus was convicted of counterfeiting for that reason in 2011, allegedly for the purpose of domestic terrorism. Von NotHaus and others have issued physical barter that has been nixed by a government. Governments have a monopoly on issuing coins and bank notes—legally.

And, what about physical cybermoney? Not all cybermoney is ‘lost in space.’
According to a March 21 online article, “Government regulations have forced operations to cease, causing the physical bitcoin minting business to virtually grind to a halt. Not long after Bitcoin was launched, people managed to create paper wallets and soon the concept of physical bitcoins was born. After that, individuals took the idea to another level and minted metal bitcoins were created. Casascius coins quickly became a collector’s item with these shiny keepsakes loaded with digital currency.”

The article continues, “Mike Caldwell, the creator of Casascius coins, started selling his physical bitcoins loaded with whole units or fractions of BTC [when] he was shut down by the US Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN). The US regulator considered minting Casascius coins illegal money transmission and Caldwell had to stop selling loaded coins. Since then a number of other manufacturers have attempted to sell loaded bitcoins to investors who may find numismatic value in these physical collections.”

“Companies like Ravenbit, Alitin Mint, Cryptmint and Titan Bitcoin have all gone out of business,” according to the article. “The [BTCC] mint did manage to produce a 2018 series, which is still available to US customers through a company called Rogue Bitcoin. In fact, there are plenty of physical bitcoins for sale on secondary markets as third parties have managed to hoard these coins and sell them for a profit.”

Prasos is a privately owned mint in Finland that strikes physical bronze, silver, and gold composition cybercoins for a company called Denarium. These cybercoins are protected with tamper-resistant holograms. Doesn’t this sound awfully similar to the security devices now being introduced on some government-issued coins? It begs the question: what is the difference between physical cybermoney and tokens?

A 2018 article asks if mining cryptcurrency can be a fun hobby? Perhaps both physically and in cyberspace we are looking at an extension of numismatics we have yet to recognize as such?

This article was originally printed in World Coin News. >> Subscribe today.