All posts by hephaist0s

O Lealana

One of the most beautiful series of physical bitcoins has long been from Lealana, a creator from Hawaii. Created in 2013, they are striking for the unexpected combination of traditional bitcoin imagery with Hawaiian-inspired decorative elements.

The “B” is there, front and center, but it floats on a sea of swirling imagery that draws the viewer in as they try to decipher it: A ship’s wheel? The tail feathers of an arrow? A paw print? It’s up to us to look and to see.

Lealana .1 BTC, obverse.
Lealana .1 BTC.
Traditional private-key-under-hologram setup.

The juxtaposition is a refreshing change in a niche field of coinage which often tends more towards the literal as it struggles to artistically depict what bitcoin might stand for.

They are also simply dead gorgeous coins with brilliant proof finishes, made in fine silver in denominations of .1, .25. .5 and 1 BTC. The tenth is made with 1/4 oz. of silver, the quarter with 1/2 oz. and the half and one are made with a full ounce. The diameters vary across the range, with the half and one being the same size (39 mm).

Lealana .25 BTC piece, with case.
Lealana .5 BTC, obverse.

The jewel of the set is the gilded 1 BTC piece, boasting 1 oz of silver and a striking gold “B” and rim.

The gorgeous Lealana 1 BTC.
Lealana 1 BTC, reverse.

Standard disclaimer: It’s always, to some degree, a bad idea to let anyone else have access to a private key which controls any of your bitcoin wallets; in a sense, it goes counter to the bitcoin system itself. Once someone else has handled the key which controls your funds, you have to trust both that they exercised adequate security procedures while handling your key, and that they have not save copies of your key to exploit at some point in the unforeseen future. While some  (such as Mike Caldwell of Casascius) have established trusted reputations, newer operators can only prove their trustworthiness over time.

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Kialara iterations

When Max Mellenbruch began making Kialara bitcoin cold storage wallets in 2014, he set a new bar for design, quality and creative vision. The original Kialara was a startlingly new take on what a cold storage wallet could be, and his later Labyrinth and Signature Series designs were no less inspiring.

Along the way, though, he’d ended up with some extra components from the original series. Instead of letting them go to waste, he made two new iterations on the original design and released them in limited edition runs in 2015. For one, he replaced the steel medallion in the center with a sterling silver one, and for the other, gold.

Kialara silver, obverse.
Kialara silver, reverse.
Kialara silver, detail of obverse.

Another creator might have called it a day, but Mellenbruch went on to make so many other small tweaks that these gold and silver series Kialaras really shine as their own objects, and are much sought after by collectors.

The denomination was changed from “100,000 bits” to “One Bitcoin,” for starters. There was a new hologram on the front, and on the reverse “Blockchain.info” was changed to “Blockr.io.”

The most striking change, though, was changing the aluminum housing to one made from stainless steel, polished to a mirror finish. This not only makes the whole thing shine with a near-holy glow, but it doubles the weight so it feels… awesome. It’s hard to say why heavier things feel as if they’re higher quality, but they do.

In this case, that feeling of quality runs deep, like a vein of precious metal.

Kialara silver.
Kialara silver, detail of reverse.
Kialara silver, detail of stainless steel housing.
Kialara silver, detail of funding tag.

Standard disclaimer: It’s always, to some degree, a bad idea to let anyone else have access to a private key which controls any of your bitcoin wallets; in a sense, it goes counter to the bitcoin system itself. Once someone else has handled the key which controls your funds, you have to trust both that they exercised adequate security procedures while handling your key, and that they have not save copies of your key to exploit at some point in the unforeseen future. While some  (such as Mike Caldwell of Casascius) have established trusted reputations, newer operators can only prove their trustworthiness over time.

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Bling

In addition to the relatively tiny-denomination (at the time) .01 BTC pieces that Microsoul made back in 2013,  he also made a much more weighty 1 BTC piece that wasn’t branded with the Microsoul name.

It only had a design on the front, and a flat reverse on which a scrambled private key was engraved and then hidden by a very heavy sticker. In a number of ways, this was a very basic design (as one might expect from an early effort), but the sheer heavy, bold shininess of it is kind of impressive. I’ve always thought it would make a better medallion than a coin, set into some necklace worn by a Bitcoin rapper (do we have those yet?).

The Microsoul 1 BTC piece had bling!
Microsoul 1 BTC piece, obverse.
Microsoul 1BTC piece, showing blank reverse after redemption (engraved private key obscured).

In order to redeem the private key, the user had to follow a set of instructions to transpose some of the characters. It’s not clear to me whether or not these rules varied from coin to coin.

In 2014, Microsoul added a new denomination, a .05 BTC coin cast in 1/2 oz. of fine silver.  These had a more traditional 2-sided design, with a proper hologram protecting the private key. Unfortunately, the gold plating was very rough, and while it generally looked fine on the big gold “B,” where the date was meant to be plated it sometimes appeared as not much better than a few gold splotches. These were also a bit close to the original Casascius designs, not quite an exact copy, but not very different, either.

A very nice touch on these was having the coin numbers engraved in the rims of the coins.

2014 Microsoul .05 BTC piece, obverse.
2014 Microsoul .05 BTC piece, obverse.
2014 Microsoul .05 BTC piece, reverse.
2014 Microsoul .05 BTC piece, showing engraved rim.

In 2016 Microsoul improved on many of these weaknesses with an update of the .05 BTC coins featuring a deeper, more boldly-struck face and a new hologram design. He offered both a gilded and ungilded version.

Still unhappy with how his mint of choice was executing the gold plating, however, Microsoul opted to try gilding them by hand, which created some interesting effects. The gilding was certainly clearer and stronger, but there is some evidence of the “by-hand” nature of the process, a sort of slight waviness or unevenness in the finish. One could consider this a flaw, or an interesting quality of a very uncommon coin.

2016 Microsoul .05 BTC piece set, obverse.
2016 Microsoul .05 BTC piece set, obverse.
2016 Microsoul .05 BTC piece set, reverse.

Standard disclaimer: It’s always, to some degree, a bad idea to let anyone else have access to a private key which controls any of your bitcoin wallets; in a sense, it goes counter to the bitcoin system itself. Once someone else has handled the key which controls your funds, you have to trust both that they exercised adequate security procedures while handling your key, and that they have not save copies of your key to exploit at some point in the unforeseen future. While some  (such as Mike Caldwell of Casascius) have established trusted reputations, newer operators can only prove their trustworthiness over time.

 

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Ledger Nano S

The Ledger Nano S is one of the most compact and versatile cryptocurrency hardware wallets available, and with the support of an active development team, it just keeps getting better and better.

It has a durable, unassuming design, like a USB flash memory stick, and would be perfectly at home on a keychain (and a keychain ring and dongle comes with it). While that might not be sexy and exciting, it wins points for keeping a low profile — who knows how much money you might have on there, so why attract attention to it? The Nano S feels tough, like a solid block of heavy black plastic, and the swiveling metal sheath adds further protection.

The Ledger Nano S: unbox that thing!
The Ledger Nano S at rest.
The Ledger Nano S with its included stuff.
Let’s get going!

Connect it to your device of choice with the included Ledger-branded micro USB cable, enter your pin by toggling through the numbers with the forward and back buttons, choose your currency on the compact-but-bright OLED display and you are off and running.

Choose your currency? Yes, indeed — this is a distinct advantage the Nano S has over its little brother, the Ledger HW.1. Through the magic of BIP44,  one hierarchic-deterministic seed can control the keys for many different coins. Keepkey and Trezor have also introduced multi-coin support, but at the time of this writing the Nano S has built-in support for 10 different coins: Bitcoin, Dash, Dogecoin, Ethereum (and Ethereum Classic), Komodo, Litecoin, Stratis, Zcash and Ripple.

Ethereum? You bet!

 

The Ledger Chrome Ethereum wallet at work.

In order to get set up with these, one downloads the Ledger Manager Chrome extension, then installs an app on the Nano S for each coin one wants to use. Most will be handled by the default Ledger Chrome wallet, though some require separate extensions.  Even if the apps get deleted or need to be re-installed (such as after a firmware upgrade), all the corresponding wallets will be recreated by the master seed.

Additionally, there’s an app for FIDO U2F, so the Nano S may be used as a 2-factor authentication device with applicable websites (not entirely unlike, though not quite the same, as Trezor Connect’s password-less login).

The Nano S is also compatible with a number of third-party wallets, such as Electrum for the desktop and Mycelium for smartphones. Electrum allows for finer control of your Bitcoin addresses, and connecting it to Mycelium unlocks the excellent utility of using your smartphone’s camera as a QR code scanner.

As with all hardware wallets, the idea is to keep your private keys off your computer entirely so they aren’t susceptible to theft by malware, while still allowing for easy, convenient transactions. Compatibility with a variety of wallets goes along way toward making this work.

I’ve been using my Ledger for several months and it continues to be a delight. The two buttons along the top are unobtrusive, seem sturdy and allow for intuitive navigation: forward/back, confirm/deny. “Select” is done by pressing both buttons at once, which means the device requires two hands to use (or at least dextrous fingers).

But sometimes hardware is only as good as its support, and Ledger seems very serious about being a player in the hardware wallet space. Based in France, Ledger is already working on a third hardware wallet, the touchscreen-enable Ledger Blue,  and this would seem to show their commitment to the technology. Hopefully we can look forward to even more updates and improvements to the Nano S as the whole ecosystem continues to evolve.

The Ledger Nano S: pick a coin!

 

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Free stuff

It’s very difficult to stay on top of everything going on in the cryptocurrency space, especially when altcoins number in the hundreds. Still, it’s embarrassing to completely miss something big and fun — unless it’s not, because you end up getting to have even more fun later on.

I’d noticed CLAMs listed on exchanges, but didn’t pay any attention to them, because I figured: silly name, silly coin. Who has time?

What I didn’t know was the spectacular distribution method that they had chosen: instead of pre-mining, or doing a crowdsale, or requiring expensive mining equipment to unlock blocks of coins, CLAMs were simply given away. And not only were they given away, they were given away in the widest, most equitable distribution ever: on May 12, 2014, every single Bitcoin, Litecoin or Dogecoin address in existence carrying a balance greater than dust received CLAMs.

How many? Instead of weighting the distribution according to how much of a given cryptocurrency one held, instead every address carrying a balance received exactly the same amount, their share of the 14 million CLAMs initially distributed. Whether you had 100 BTC or .001 BTC at an address on May 12, 2014, you received the same amount of CLAMs as everyone else: 4.60545574.

Why would they do this? Beyond being ridiculously fun, it does ensure involvement by the crypto community since every early adopter was automatically a part of the CLAM community.

If this all still seems like the behavior of a silly coin, conjured out of thin air and given away for free, consider that over the past few weeks, CLAMs have traded at between .0018-0027 BTC, or roughly $4-6 each, which means that every one of those addresses active on that day in 2014 is worth $20-30, even if there is not one satoshi left on it.

The CLAM Client, ready to dig.

The process of hunting for these old addresses and capturing the CLAMs is called, of course, digging for CLAMs.  I tried to figure out all the addresses that I might have had active at that time: a few different wallets; a bunch of miners, all pointed to different addresses; some collectible cards and coins which I have since redeemed, but which, miraculously, I have saved the keys to; other things, too.  A spreadsheet was called for, and so my journey began.

An address can be quickly checked to see if it has CLAMs by using the tool at https://freebitcoins.com/clamchecker/dig/. If it doesn’t have any CLAMs, move on, otherwise the next step is to import the private key. They offer a tool there to import individual keys and automatically convert the CLAMs to BTC, or to dig whole wallet files at once. Of course, one should never hand over one’s private keys to any strange website or to anyone ever, but these are addresses from 3 years ago, and are for the most part defunct anyway.

It was much more appealing, though, to import CLAMs directly into the CLAM Client.  Syncing it up was nightmarish — after a week and half, it was still more than 2 years behind. I’d seen references to dooglus’s bootstrap.dat file speeding things up, but I got confused because the post was from 2014 — that won’t help me much, I thought.  That’s what I get for not reading more carefully — the post might have still had a 2014 date on it, but he updates it regularly so the file was actually only a few weeks old. Once I downloaded that, it only took another day or two for the client to import it and catch up.

I fired up my old, pre-HD version of Multibit and exported the keys, then loaded them in; that was a few CLAMs. My Blockchain.info wallet was pretty straightforward, and again it was just a question of exporting the keys for my old, non-HD addresses, then importing them one at a time using the “importprivkey” command at the console.

For Electrum I had to sort though the long list of used addresses and find the ones that were in use at that time, then find the corresponding change addresses for that period as well. It was a lot of digging, but worth it. Even an address that might have only held a tiny amount of BTC at the time yielded the same 4.6 CLAMs.

Then it was on to redeemed coins, cards, DIY coins and paper wallets that I might have been using at the time. Why did I save old homemade paper wallets that have been empty for years? Now I know why. Old BIP38 wallets? Just decrypt them using btcaddress-alpha.

I spent an entire day digging for CLAMs. It was a fine day at the beach.

One fun side effect involves a series of paper wallets myself and a friend had once given away. On March 20, 2014 we’d co-hosted and spoken at an event called  “The Seacoast Bitcoin Symposium” in an effort to raise awareness, educate and answer questions. Blockchain.info had donated exactly 1 BTC to be given away to attendees, so the first 100 people got a custom-made paper wallet loaded with .01 BTC. As part of the evening, we explained how to use the wallets.

Not only is the ~$6 worth of BTC (at the time) now worth upwards of $20, but since many of those wallets were still unredeemed a few weeks later, they have CLAMs on them, too, so all of those first 100 people received something like $50 just for showing up to learn something.

And who knows what they’ll be worth in the future?

Paper wallets from early 2014, now full of CLAMs.

From the shore to the heavens

CLAMs were a blast from the past, but Stellar is very much a part of the present.

Stellar is a system meant to connect other financial systems together (not unlike Ripple), as well as providing very fast confirmation times. Launched in 2014, they promise to give away 95% of all the lumens (the Stellar token, XLM) created when the network began. They already had one mass distribution to BTC holders in 2016, and they recently initiated another. On June 26, 2017, they took a snapshot of the Bitcoin blockchain and made 16 billion lumens available to bitcoin holders.

Unlike CLAMs, the lumens are allocated in proportion to the bitcoin held at a rate that ends up being just under 1000 XLM/BTC held. Also unlike CLAMs, the lumens aren’t attached to the BTC forever. Instead, there’s a redemption process, whereby BTC holders go to a redemption page,  login with Facebook (an unfortunate step meant to ensure that users aren’t in non-crypto zones such as Iran or Connecticut), then submit their Stellar address to receive lumens at, then the BTC address they would like to redeem from.

Fortunately, no private keys are compromised in this process, since Stellar then asks users to sign a brief message with the BTC address they are submitting in order to verify ownership.  This is easier in some wallets than in others.

Let there be light: claiming lumens.

It’s dead simple in Electrum and the Blockchain.info wallet, since users may simply select an address and sign a message with it. The resulting “signature” text, when pasted back into the redemption page, almost instantly releases lumens to the user’s specified wallet.

The Trezor web wallet also works fine for signing messages, but it can be tricky to figure out which of your addresses was actually holding BTC at the time of the snapshot. I ended up looking up individual addresses on a block explorer first.

For the Ledger Nano S, I found the easiest thing was to connect it to Electrum. This then readily displayed all my addresses, showed which ones had balances, and then let me sign from them just by right-clicking on the address and then verifying the action with a button push on the Nano.

For a BIP38 paper wallet, I opted to decrypt the wallet first, then import the key into my Blockchain.info wallet and sign from there, then deleting the key out of the wallet when done. I am not sure if there might be a better way. This was the only instance where I had to move a key around.

A number of exchanges have promised to pass the appropriate lumens along to the bitcoin holders on the exchange, but not all of them. We’ll see how that goes.

When all’s said and done, who doesn’t love free stuff?

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The Big Easy

In addition to making  half-bitcoin and one-bitcoin pieces, Nolacoin (“The Bitcoin Exchange of New Orleans”) also made a three-bitcoin piece, and I picked one of those up back in 2014.

It’s a beautiful coin, with a two-tone color scheme of mirrored silver in the center and a golden outer margin.  Like the other denominations, it’s plated brass and not precious metal, but that doesn’t change how pretty it is. It is the same size as the half and the one, and also features the public address, the private key and a QR code of the private key laser-engraved into the metal of the coin.

Nolacoin has long since stopped making coins, but at least he left us some remarkable designs. While there are some 5 BTC pieces out there from various manufacturers, this is the only 3 BTC piece that I’ve come across. It’s a big coin with a big denomination, especially at today’s exchange rates.

Nolacoin 3 bitcoin piece, obverse.
Nolacoin 3 bitcoin piece, reverse, after redemption (key obscured).

Standard disclaimer: It’s always, to some degree, a bad idea to let anyone else have access to a private key which controls any of your bitcoin wallets; in a sense, it goes counter to the bitcoin system itself. Once someone else has handled the key which controls your funds, you have to trust both that they exercised adequate security procedures while handling your key, and that they have not save copies of your key to exploit at some point in the unforeseen future. While some  (such as Mike Caldwell of Casascius) have established trusted reputations, newer operators can only prove their trustworthiness over time.

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Bitcoin Pennies: physical crypto for the masses

It was a natural progression from creator-funded physical bitcoins, to self-funded physical bitcoins, to DIY physical bitcoin kits, to bitcoin collectibles with no pretense of containing bitcoin at all.

The Bitcoin Penny is a really fun example of this. Introduced in 2015 by the Bitcoin Penny Company out of South Carolina, they’re simply copper penny-like coins with a big bitcoin “B” on the front, and “bitcoin” spanning the globe on the back.

2015 Bitcoin Penny, obverse.
2015 Bitcoin Penny, obverse.
2015 Bitcoin Penny, reverse.

Why? Well, why not? Lighten up! These are inexpensive, attractive tokens that would be great to hand out at a conference or talk, at a party, at holidays, in a gift bag, as a conversation starter…  the possibilities go on and on. And, of course, they’re a great item to add to one’s collection.

Eventually, though, things come full circle, and in 2017 they introduced a DIY version which is entirely blank on the back, and comes with special Bitcoin Penny holograms so that you may, if you choose, print your own private keys and seal them up on the back of the coins.

2017 Bitcoin Penny with blank reverse and holograms.
Bitcoin Penny holograms.
Roll your own! No, wait, that’s not right — buy a roll and make your own!

Even better, you can buy them by the roll! Make a whole batch and fund them with whatever you like, hand them out and spread the word.

Bitcoin Penny next to some other kind of penny for reference.
No, thank YOU!
The final excellent touch? Sometimes there’s a doodle in the package.
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The Cryptopods cometh

It’s always great to see new creators entering the physical cryptocoin space, and Cryptopods is taking a unique approach with their first offering, sort of like a soft launch: instead of creating a new design, they are repurposing 101 Ravenbit coins from 2014, creating new vanity keys for each (starting with “1Crypto”) and giving them all new Cryptopods holograms. The series is called “Ravenbit Podified.”

Cryptopods "Ravenbit Podified" coins in copper, brass and bronze, obverse.
Cryptopods “Ravenbit Podified” coins in copper, brass and bronze, obverse.
Cryptopods "Ravenbit Podified" coins in copper, brass and bronze, reverse.
Cryptopods “Ravenbit Podified” coins in copper, brass and bronze, reverse.

It’s not the first time someone’s repurposed some blanks with new keys and holograms (OgNasty did it with some Casascius 5 BTC pieces in 2014), but Cryptopods has given this offering the works: a limited, numbered run of 101 coins, three different metal types (brass, copper, and bronze), air-tites and laminated certificates of authenticity for each. Bitcoin dice and, uh, plastic bug things are also available with set purchases, or by request.

Apparently someone really likes bugs, probably minerjones since there’s a mantis in his bitcointalk.org avatar; digicoinuser is the other creator of Cryptopods. Both have longstanding good reputations.

Cryptopods "Ravenbit Podified" coins in copper, brass and bronze, with Bitcoin dice. The dice are darn cool.
Cryptopods “Ravenbit Podified” coins with Bitcoin dice. The dice are darn cool.
Cryptopods "Ravenbit Podified" coins with laminated certificates of authenticity.
Cryptopods “Ravenbit Podified” coins with laminated certificates of authenticity.

These are fine coins, and it’s a great opportunity to pick up a Ravenbit coin if you missed them the first time around. The Cryptopod holograms are lovely and feature the current year, 2017, to differentiate from the “2014” originally designed into the metal. How many coins have two dates on them? Kinda neat.

A window in the holograms lets one view the series number and firstbits, both of which my be looked up  at cryptopods.com/keys/.

Cryptopods “Ravenbit Podified” coins are a very fun initial offering.  We look forward to seeing some new designs in the future.

Standard disclaimer: It’s always, to some degree, a bad idea to let anyone else have access to a private key which controls any of your bitcoin wallets; in a sense, it goes counter to the bitcoin system itself. Once someone else has handled the key which controls your funds, you have to trust both that they exercised adequate security procedures while handling your key, and that they have not save copies of your key to exploit at some point in the unforeseen future. While some  (such as Mike Caldwell of Casascius) have established trusted reputations, newer operators can only prove their trustworthiness over time.

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Nasty & nice

The NastyFans silver physical seat is one of my favorite physical cryptocoins, partly because it has so much going on that it’s practically alive.

But it takes some explaining.

A one-ounce .999 fine silver coin, it has a bitcoin private key sealed beneath a hologram on the back. So far, so good — standard cryptocoin stuff. It’s a little remarkable for having the public address of each coin etched along the rim, a feature that would be great to see more often.

NastyFans: One Seat, obverse.
NastyFans: One Seat, obverse.
NastyFans: One Seat, reverse.
NastyFans: One Seat, reverse.

But what kind of denomination is “One Seat”? That’s one seat in the NastyFans Fan Club. What’s the NastyFans Fan Club? It’s the unofficial fan club of Nasty Mining, a bitcoin mining operation run by an entity (probably human) named OgNasty. There are a finite number of seats (30,000) in the NastyFans Fan Club, and these seats may be bought and sold through the website www.nastyfans.org. While most seats exist digitally within the website, some seats have been “minted” and are now represented by a physical coin.

And that all sounds completely crazy.

Here’s what it means: Nasty Mining was and is a bitcoin mining project, but unlike other more ambitious or scammier (take your pick) mining endeavors, they wanted to make sure they kept it legal, didn’t over-promise, and also, kept it fun. In time, OgNasty branched out into other projects such as a mining pool and creating collectible coins, and those things also feed into NastyFans. When you buy a seat in the fan club, you buy 1/40,0000 of the output from the various Nasty projects (since 25% is automatically reinvested into Nasty Mining). But because of the language used, they’ve kept it legal because, truly… there are no promises.

What this means for this coin is that it doesn’t have  a fixed denomination. Instead, it receives periodic payouts over time. How much?  That depends on how long you hold onto the coin, and how the various Nasty projects fare over time.

This is not a get-rich-quick sort of thing — the payouts to the coin’s address are small and infrequent.  Bitcoin mining is a tough business, and plus, this is just 1/40,000th. But after 5 years of operation (an eternity in Bitcoinland), OgNasty’s reputation is pretty much iron-clad in the bitcoin community, and the the whole endeavor can be transparently tracked via the thread at bitcointalk.org here.

So where does that leave us? An ounce of silver. A fun design, and great quality. A value that increases over time as more payouts are made to the coin’s address. And, a doorway into the bitcoin community: buy a coin, get an account at nastyfans.org, become a part of bitcointalk.org and learn about all the current Nasty projects. Learn some things. Express your opinions. Join us.

Some coins have stories, sure, but very few act as an open invitation to a whole world.

NastyFans suite, reverse: one ounce one seat coin, plus two one gram promotional coins.
NastyFans suite, reverse: one ounce One Seat coin, plus two one gram promotional coins.
Nasty Fans one seat, obverse.
Nasty Fans One Seat, obverse.
NastyFans one seat, reverse.
NastyFans One Seat, reverse.

Standard disclaimer: It’s always, to some degree, a bad idea to let anyone else have access to a private key which controls any of your bitcoin wallets; in a sense, it goes counter to the bitcoin system itself. Once someone else has handled the key which controls your funds, you have to trust both that they exercised adequate security procedures while handling your key, and that they have not save copies of your key to exploit at some point in the unforeseen future. While some  (such as Mike Caldwell of Casascius) have established trusted reputations, newer operators can only prove their trustworthiness over time.

 

 

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Mucho Denarium

It’s easy to forget that when Mike Caldwell first started making his brass 1 BTC Casascius coins, they were meant to be a fun, affordable way for people to handle, store and share bitcoin — now, of course, a denomination of “1 BTC” is intimidating, and Casascius coins themselves have long since become collector’s items.

In 2015, Denarium, based in Finland, wanted to get back to those roots, and to that end they created a series of affordable brass coins, each of which contains a private key sealed behind a hologram just like the original Casascius coins. The denominations they chose, though, were 1/100 BTC, 1/10 BTC, and a “custom” option which has no denomination and may be loaded with however much or little you want. They are available either pre-loaded with the specified amounts, or in an empty, buyer-funded form.

1/100 BTC brass Denarium coin.
1/100 BTC brass Denarium coin.

These are a thoughtfully designed and packaged way to share modest amounts of bitcoin. The firstbits of each address is visible through a window in the hologram, and detailed address and public key information is printed on the inside of the packaging. The address QR code is even stickered to the back of each coin’s capsule.

Denarium brass physical bitcoins, reverse.
Denarium brass physical bitcoins, reverse.
The Denarium packaging contains detailed information about each individual coin.
The Denarium packaging contains detailed information about each individual coin.

It’s fine that these are not flashy coins, but even as brass coins go they seem to tend toward the low end in terms of production values: fairly dull and a little rough, with some blemishes.  The price, though, is hard to beat.

For just a little more Denarium also introduced a gold-plated series of the same coins, and those really shine. They are still affordable, but they are much more impressive to the eye and more satisfying as a collectible or gift.

Denarium gold-plated brass physical bitcoins, obverse.
Denarium gold-plated brass physical bitcoins, obverse.
Denarium unplated and plated brass custom coin, for comparison.
Denarium unplated and plated brass custom coin, for comparison.
Denarium gold-plated custom-denomination piece.
Denarium gold-plated custom-denomination piece.
Denarium gold-plated 1/100 BTC piece.
Denarium gold-plated 1/100 BTC piece.
Denarium gold-plated 1/10 BTC piece, featuring scary horse.
Denarium gold-plated 1/10 BTC piece, featuring scary horse.

It’s always exciting to see new creators come into the physical cryptocoin field, and Denarium has since expanded their coin offerings into more premium items. We look forward to their future ideas, as well.

Thoughtful packaging, meant to reach a mass audience.
Thoughtful packaging, meant to reach a mass audience.

Standard disclaimer: It’s always, to some degree, a bad idea to let anyone else have access to a private key which controls any of your bitcoin wallets; in a sense, it goes counter to the bitcoin system itself. Once someone else has handled the key which controls your funds, you have to trust both that they exercised adequate security procedures while handling your key, and that they have not save copies of your key to exploit at some point in the unforeseen future. While some  (such as Mike Caldwell of Casascius) have established trusted reputations, newer operators can only prove their trustworthiness over time.

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