Bitcoin BTC with Real US coins on coin wrappers

Why Do People Buy Physical Bitcoin Tokens?

Cryptocurrency Tokens

Most people know that Bitcoin is not an ACTUAL coin, but get confused when they see products like these online:

Normally, I do not post about cryptocurrency as it has little relation to the hobby of coin collecting, but I saw this item trending in “Hobby Coin Collecting Products” on Amazon and I wanted to address any confusion.

You cannot buy a physical Bitcoin, because there is no such thing. You can have codes, known as key, that give you access to Bitcoin. These keys can be printed on physical items, but the Bitcoin itself is not the item.

The tokens above are simply tokens. They are meant to signify the idea of Bitcoin, but you cannot store or own Bitcoin or any other cryptocurrency with the tokens above.

So why do people buy physical cryptocurrency tokens?

I think the main reason people buy these tokens are as gifts for others interested in cryptocurrency. Buying cryptocurrency is complicated for beginners and this is a much easier gift idea for a BTC fanatic.

Since Bitcoin has no physical form, this is an easier way to show off an interest in cryptocurrency. These can be put in display cases for a good desk decoration.

Although the tokens above cannot store any cryptocurrency, you can purchase tokens that do store cryptocurrency.

Cold Storage Wallet

Cold storage wallets are as close as you can get to having a physical cryptocurrency coin.

Cold storage wallets are not connected to the internet. It is simply a public and private key printed on a physical item so that you have access to your keys anytime.

A cold storage wallet does actually store Bitcoin. However, it is important to note that it does not come with Cryptocurrency on the token. You will have to buy your own Bitcoin on a platform like Coinbase and transfer it over. This transfer will cost a fee.

People buy cold storage wallet tokens to prevent their cryptocurrency from being susceptible to online cyber attacks. Theoretically your coins are safer in a cold wallet because it can’t be hacked.

One thing to consider, is that in the manufacturing process someone at one point likely had access to your private key. This means that the company or a malicious employee could potentially have access to all cryptocurrency stored on the wallet.

And the weirdest crypto token selling I have ever seen…

Crypto Candles

These candles come with a Bitcoin token and $5 or more of Bitcoin.

Without a doubt one of the strangest candles I have ever seen for sale, but definitely a fun quirky idea. I have seen a similar design for rings where you melt the candle and have a potential of getting valuable jewelry.

These are pretty pricey, considering you are likely to only get 1 candle + 5$ in BTC + a BTC token, but the potential of winning more makes it fun. This is definitely a fun gift idea for a crypto-enthusiast just for the novelty of it.

Share any thoughts or comments below! I am by no means an expert on cryptocurrency, but I can try to answer any questions.

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Carwash and Game Tokens

What Makes Token Collecting Fun For Coin Collectors

Numismatics and Exonumia go together like peanut butter and jelly.

Numismatics is the study of currency, coins or bills that are accepted as legal tender. Exonumia is the study of numismatic items that are not accepted as legal tender. Tokens, medals, and scrips (a substitute for legal tender) are all exonumia.

The term exonumia was coined by Russel Rulau in July 1960. Exonumia comes from the greek “exo” meaning “out of” and “nummus” meaning “coin”. So, exonumia means “out of coin”.

There are 3 categories of tokens/medals:

  1. Ones that have trade-able value, or can be exchanged
  2. Commemorative tokens or medals
  3. Personal Items

Type 1 is the most common, or at least most commonly collected. A game token from Chuck E. Cheese would be Type 1, because the coin can be used to play a game. A bus token is also Type 1 because it can be used to purchase a bus ride.

Type 2 could be made by the US Mint or a private entity. Tokens of the Type 2 variety usually commemorate historical events or figures. Remember these have no inherent monetary value, meaning the value is not backed by a government.

Type 3 is more difficult to define. This is kind of a catch-all category for items that are neither coins nor Type 1 or 2 tokens. Prayer coins and AA chips fit well into this category.

Why collect tokens if they have no monetary value?

For one, tokens are much cheaper to purchase than legal coinage. There are bulk token lots on eBay where tokens are sold by the pound. For most people, there is no value in these items so they are simply thrown away or forgotten in a drawer.

Tokens and medals have some amazing artwork and history attached to them. The artwork and lack of inherent value make tokens great items to display!

Well many coin collectors hide their coins from potential thieves or children looking for quarters to buy ice cream, tokens are great for display because they can easily be repurchased.

Great For Traveling!

When I’m on trips, I like to look for novelty items that will bring me long-term enjoyment at a reasonable price. I could buy some cheap knick-knacks, but they often get tossed on a shelf and rarely admired after coming back.

Below are two tokens I got for about $10 each. The left token is from the Grand Canyon National park, and the right is from Death Valley National Park.

Buying tokens is great, because they fit in seamlessly with my coin collection. Plus, they take up very little space in a suitcase!

I have a few tokens I’ve bought on trips that represent fun memories, but my favorite tokens to collect on trips are smashed/elongated pennies!

At 51 cents a piece, elongated pennies are the cheapest item at a gift store. Plus, you get to pick your own design and make them yourself.

Here is my pressed penny collection. I got many of these on a cross-country road-trip. My souvenirs ended up being the cheapest expense of the whole trip!

Elongated Smashed Pressed Penny Booklet
My Pressed Penny Booklet

Here’s a link below to the smashed penny booklet I use. The albums can also be purchased at some gift shops. (Make sure to get one though! I have lost dozens of pressed pennies over the years by sticking them in my pocket!)

If you want to learn more about elongated pennies, check out this article: “All About Elongated Pennies – History, Myths, Pictures“!

Examples of Exonumia include:

  • Challenge Coins
  • Pressed Pennies
  • Medals (Government and Private)
  • Political Tokens
  • Car Wash Tokens
  • Batting Cage Tokens
  • HoboCoins
  • Play Money
  • Bus/Train Tokens
  • Trade Coins
  • Prison Tokens
  • Prayer Coins
  • AA Chips
  • And hundreds more!

Below is a gallery of some of my tokens I have collected over the years.

Share your thoughts in the comments and poll below!

I am an Amazon Affiliate, so I earn a commission on sales made through my links. This does not increase the price of any item linked through my site. My main goal is to inform.