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               At some point in the 7th Century BC, the measured round metallic objects we know and
               love as “coins” became our archetype for money. Fiat currency – paper tickets purporting
               to represent actual coins – emerged as its nemesis a millennia later. Our ancestors were not
               amused as their rulers engaged in the common parlor trick of shaving down and adding
               cheaper metals to our beloved coins, morphing them into what we appropriately refer to as
               “debased coins.” Yet long after the emergence of paper notes, coins remain the paradigm of
               money – whether popping from a block punched by Super Mario or ensconced in name of
               this website.

               So it should come as no surprise that in the pioneer days of decentralized digital currency, people
               felt the urge to cast their new money into physical coins. We know little about how the first coins
               were forged thousands of years ago, but fortunately for us, Elias Ahonen has written the
               “Encyclopedia of Physical Bitcoins and Crypto-Currencies” to capture this important piece of
               crypto-history. In his highly detailed and exhaustive catalog of physical cryptocurrencies,
               Ahonen takes us on a journey from the very first attempts to produce these physical coins,
               cementing his place as one of the first ‘bitcoin historians.’

               Our story begins in late 2010. Understanding our emotional connection to physical coins,
               programmer and bitcoin acolyte Mike Caldwell first conceived physical bitcoins in his home
               outside of Salt Lake City, Utah. His idea was to embed tamper proof holograms with private
               keys into cylindrical metal washers, but he quickly realized that hiding a single hologram into a
               coin was a more elegant and cost-effective solution. Thus emerged the Casascius coin, which
               abbreviates the saying “call a spade a spade,” anthologized in Caldwell’s blog “You asked for
               change, I gave you coins.” These original Casascius coins contained 1 BTC each, and remain
               coveted artifacts of bitcoin history worth far greater than their nominal bitcoin price.
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