The Numismatic Bibliomania Society



The E-Sylum: Volume 24, Number 41, October 10, 2021, Article 12


GreatCollections submitted a $48 Million Gold 1,000 Bitcoin Physical Coin for grading. Here's the press release. -Editor

  Gold Cas 1000 BTC coin 

Not seen for a decade, a one-ounce gold coin with a denomination of 1,000 Bitcoins (BTC) is the world's most valuable numismatic item. Purchased in December 2011 for $4,905, it is now worth $48 million at the BTC value as of Monday morning, October 4, 2021. On behalf of its anonymous owner, GreatCollections Coin Auctions of Irvine, California ( submitted the gold 1,000 Bitcoin physical coin under armed guard for certification to Professional Coin Grading Service. It has been certified PCGS Proof-70 DCAM.

This is the greatest return on investment for any numismatic item, a staggering 9,786 times the purchase price in just ten years. It may be the world's greatest investment in that time span, stated Ian Russell, President of GreatCollections.

Its value eclipses classic coins, such as the 1933 Saint-Gaudens Double Eagle recently auctioned by Sotheby's for $18,872,250 or the Sultan of Muscat 1804 Draped Bust dollar GreatCollections recently purchased at auction for $7,680,000 on behalf of a client, he said.

The gold 1,000 BTC is not for sale, but Russell announced that a gold-plated 25 BTC coin, now certified PCGS MS-67, will be offered without reserve by GreatCollections in an auction that closes on November 14.

Bidding will start at $1, although I anticipate this 25 BTC will sell for more than $1 million, predicted Russell.

The cryptocurrency community refers to the 1,000 BTC coin as the Gold Cas. That is a reference to Casascius, the brand of BTC coins produced from 2011 to 2013. The company was created by Mike Caldwell to create physical Casascius coins in increments of 0.1, 0.5, 1, 5, 10, 25, 100 and 1,000 BTC units. Caldwell also produced some BTC ingots.

PCGS Interim President Stephanie Sabin stated: "PCGS sets the standard for grading and authenticating rare coins, tokens, medals, and paper currency. As such, we have been entrusted with the encapsulation of the majority of auction-topping items year after year. This coin is set apart in its cultural significance in merging the worlds of cryptocurrency and traditional numismatics. Combine this with the staggering value of the Bitcoins it contains and we have a new Goliath."

Only six 1,000 gold BTC Casascius coins were made and four of them have not been redeemed including the one owned by Russell's client.

The gold coin is dated 2012 CASASCIUS. The legend on the obverse includes 1 TROY OZ .999 FINE GOLD and the motto, VIRES IN NUMERIS, Latin for STRENGTH IN NUMBERS. There is a multi-color, tamper-resistant hologram design on the reverse. It was in fact the first produced by Casascius.

Russell said the current owner of this 1,000 gold BTC is not the presumed founder of the digital currency Bitcoin, Satoshi Nakamoto. There have been suggestions that the founder of Bitcoin owns iconic Bitcoin items such as the Gold Cas.

Ian Russell holds Gold Cas The Gold Cas owner wanted to have his fortune encapsulated and graded by PCGS. GreatCollections arranged the process from start-to-finish, including an armed guard escort to take it to PCGS headquarters in Santa Ana, California, said Russell.

"It's the ultimate 21st century collectible, merging gold with crypto-currency; a cultural phenomenon considering the vast numbers of people under 30 who own some cryptocurrency as investments, he stated.

The $48 million coin now resides in an overseas bank vault, and it's unlikely to ever be redeemed or spent as Bitcoin, but you may be able to see it in person someday. GreatCollections is in talks with the owner to publicly display it at an upcoming coin convention, Russell explained.

For additional information, contact GreatCollections at 949-679-4180 or visit online at

Longtime E-Sylum readers may remember we discussed the Casascius physical bitcoins as early as 2011. Over 90,000 worth of these physical bitcoins were minted in various denominations. The 1000 BTC was the largest, but there were many more affordable (at the time) smaller denominations. Did any of our readers buy any? At publication time Sunday night bitcoin was trading at $54,912.62, making the value of the coin's 1000 BTC almost $55 million. See below for links to the earlier articles. -Editor

  Physical BitCoins 

Bitcoins aren't just an abstract financial instrument living somewhere in the digital ether anymore. They're now a physical currency capable of taking a ride in your pocket or scratching off your lottery tickets.

The physical Bitcoins, called Casascius Bitcoins and created by a guy in Utah named Mike Caldwell, are made of brass, with gold electroplating on the 25 Bitcoin denomination. And, of course, they're tied to the peer-to-peer, open-source digital currency that's been exchanged on the Internet for a while now.

Each coin has a unique Bitcoin address and a redeemable "private key" under a hologram on the coin. That key can be used to redeem the value of the Bitcoins online, but the hologram sticker leaves a honeycomb mark when peeled back, so you'll know if your Bitcoins have been tampered with.

The coins play a function similar to a gift card or certificate with a magnetic strip or bar code. In other words, it provides a tangible means of carrying around the digital key that contains the actual value.

To read the earlier E-Sylum articles, see:

Aaron Oppenheim passed along a link to the Collectors Universe forum about the piece. Thanks. -Editor

yosclimber writes:

Cool story, but it has to compete with the Australian 1 Tonne (1000 kg) gold coin in terms of "most valuable". So the Australian 1 Tonne is currently valued $56.88 million, and beats $48 million for this 1000 bitcoin.

Weiss writes:

Fascinating. But I disagree that it is the world's most valuable coin. Scratching the combination to a safe stuffed with gold and jewels onto the surface of the coin doesn't make the coin valuable. It's the contents within the safe.

JBK writes:

If you write the bitcoin "key" on a piece of paper and seal that in an envelope, does that envelope become the most valuable philatelic cover/item in existence? If you lock the code in the glove compartment of your car, is your car now worth $48 million?

Perhaps the coin could be compared to a scratch-off lottery ticket, but a winning ticket needs to be surrendered, like a check, to be redeemed. In the case of the coin, it bears a code that is utilized digitally, independent of the coin.

ms71 writes:

It takes a great deal of faith to believe that the hidden "private key" is unknown and unknowable to anyone except the holder of the coin; or, indeed, that there is in fact a valid key beneath the hologram.

What exactly is PCGS certifying here? The holder states that it is a 2012-dated "Casascius Bitcoin 1oz .999 Find Gold." It also lists a denomination of "1000 BTC". But how could they certify that the unopened private key is there, correct and recoverable? Was the returned slab accompanied by a lengthy legal disclaimer? -Editor

To read the complete discussion, see:
The World's Most Valuable Coin - The Gold Cas - Currently $48 million (value 10 years ago was $4905) (

In 2014 we discussed American artist Brad Troemel, I wrote, "Troemel's work as displayed here is legitimate and fully within the theme of modern "money artists" like J.S.G. Boggs. He discusses the Casascius Bitcoins and uses them in his work, along with other items we've discussed here in The E-Sylum, including NORFED coins and time-based community currencies." -Editor

  brad-troemel artwork 

Where is this artwork today? What is the denomination of that Casascius Bitcoin? -Editor

To read the earlier E-Sylum article, see:

Coincidentally, Stack's Bowers Director of Consignment and Numismatics James McCartney published a blog article about the firm's upcoming sale of a physical silver Lealana 0.1 Bitcoin. -Editor

  silver Lealana 0.1 Bitcoin 

Stack's Bowers Galleries is excited to present a physical Lealana Bitcoin to the passionate communities of cryptocurrency and numismatic enthusiasts in their November 2021 Showcase Auction. This physical Lealana Bitcoin represents a historic revolution in commerce, similar to the first gold coinage issued by King Croesus circa 500 BC and the first U.S. coins to be struck by steam press in 1836. It is the physical manifestation of an entirely digital concept, offering a fusion of numismatic utility and financial technology. It will be the very first piece of physical cryptocurrency offered in a major live auction.

It features an intrinsic face value, or "peel value," of 0.1 Bitcoin (BTC), equivalent to roughly USD$5,400 at the time of cataloging (October 2021). The value of this piece was buyer-funded and remains unredeemed, further increasing the desirability. Issued on a 25mm planchet of ¼ ounce of .999 fine silver and minted by Northwest Territorial Mint, the obverse features a holographic sticker with the serial number at left and the public address visible through a rectangular window. On the reverse is the Bitcoin currency symbol at center surrounded by a legend listing the denomination, composition, and the Hawaiian phrase "IKAIKA I HELU NUI" that translates as "Strength in Numbers." Also included with this physical Lealana Bitcoin is a Certificate of Authenticity (COA) and an encased Pretty Good Privacy (PGP) message.

First introduced as Lealana Litecoin, the Lealana series was released to collectors and investors in June 2013 as a counterpart to the Casascius physical bitcoins introduced in 2011. It was invented and issued by Noah Luis of Honolulu, Hawaii, who is perhaps better recognized within the crypto community by his internet handle "smoothie." These physical Lealana Bitcoins were produced in both brass and silver compositions and issued in a range of denominations from 0.1 BTC to 1 BTC, corresponding to those of the Casascius series. Only 2,000 Lealana 0.1 Bitcoins were issued in silver, and this buyer-funded example with a black address is a great rarity, one of only 10 issued. It is considered part of the limited Series 1 Lealana coins, offered before the address color was changed to green in May 2014 to comply with regulations.

We expect considerable excitement and fierce bidding among both collectors and investors when this piece crosses the auction block in our November sale.

To read the complete article, see:
Silver Lealana 0.1 Bitcoin (BTC) to be offered by Stack's Bowers Galleries in their November 2021 Showcase Auction (

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Wayne Homren, Editor

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