While bitcoin (BTC) is already a limited asset, Mike Caldwell’s Casascius physical bitcoins take rarity to a whole new level. Between 2011 and 2013, he endowed over 27,000 coins and bars with nearly 100,000 BTC. As we step into September 2023, a limited supply of 19,082 Casascius physical bitcoins remain in circulation, with around 41,280 BTC yet to be claimed.
Just Over 19,000 Casascius Physical Bitcoins Remain Unpeeled
In the first eight months of 2023, approximately 162 physical bitcoins designed by Mike Caldwell were cashed in or peeled. These coins represented a total of 386 BTC, translating to near $10 million based on the current BTC exchange rates.
Debuting in 2011, Caldwell’s Casascius physical bitcoins, available in both coins and bars, ranged in denominations of 0.1, 0.5, 1, 5, 10, 25, 100, and 1,000 BTC.
Yet, by 2013, Caldwell faced a hurdle. The Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN), an arm of the Treasury Department, told him that producing these physical bitcoins classified him as a money transmitter, prompting him to halt his operations.
Despite the interruption, Caldwell had already minted an impressive 27,928 coins, with a cumulative load of 91,213 BTC. To date, nearly 50,000 BTC, precisely 49,984 BTC, have been claimed from 8,856 of Caldwell’s meticulously crafted coins and bars.
Currently, a staggering 19,082 active Casascius physical bitcoins are circulating, with a combined worth of 41,280 BTC, which surpasses $1 billion in today’s valuation. Intriguingly, while May witnessed the highest number of Casascius BTC coin or bar redemptions with 39 units, it was July 2023 that topped the charts in value terms: a whopping 201.5 BTC was redeemed.
This signifies that July accounted for more than 52% of the year’s total Casascius physical bitcoin redemptions, while May contributed over 16% with its 65 BTC. August saw seven bitcoins being claimed, and as we tread into September, 27 BTC have been cashed in, according to data collected by casasciustracker.com.
To illustrate, on September 3, 2023, an individual redeemed a Casascius “S2-COIN-25”, which once contained 25 BTC. The previous day, two separate coins, each loaded with one BTC each, were cashed. The peak value in July is attributable to numerous redemptions of the Casascius S2-COIN-25s. For instance, on July 12, 2023, six of these specific coins were spent in one day. To date, 58.40% of Casascius S2-COIN-25s have been redeemed, leaving 41.6% unclaimed. Moreover, of the six S1-COIN-1,000s, each carrying 1,000 BTC, four remain untouched.
The motives behind individuals choosing to cash in their Casascius physical bitcoins after such a long span remain enigmatic. Perhaps they seek a safer storage option, or maybe, after years of holding, they’re ready to sell the cryptocurrency. Even after the BTC is extracted, these coins retain value and continue to be traded empty on platforms like Ebay. Additionally, since Casascius coins were minted between 2011 and 2013, they also encompass the subsequent BTC forks, including bitcoin cash (BCH).
What do you think about the remaining 19,000+ physical coins left with loaded bitcoin on them? Why do you think people decided to redeem these collectibles? Share your thoughts and opinions about this subject in the comments section below.