A Bitcoiner Turned $100 Bills into Bitcoin Paper Wallets

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Bitcoiners tend to champion above all else the decentralized nature of Bitcoin, and how it can’t be controlled by a central bank or other centralized entity. They can carry an aversion to banks – private or public – and governments, as well. That might explain some images which recently surfaced on the Internet.

One Redditor turned “Benjamins” into a vessel for bitcoin.

Source: Imgur

He calls the set of ten, which he purchased on eBay, “uncirculated and sequential.” The serials end in 01-10. The bills were printed in  2009, the year in which Bitcoin’s genesis block – that is, the first bitcoins – was mined. On Reddit, he bartered the bills for other Bitcoin-related objects.

Posted are eight $100 bills. Each reads: “This note holds .23 bitcoins; the equivalent of $100 USD on January 3rd, 2016 – the 7th anniversary of the Bitcoin Blockchain.”  At least one of the bills had been put in a holder akin to that of a collector’s.

Although some threads on the Internet maintain destroying money is legal, those who do so “in real life” could face criminal charges, it seems. The misunderstanding often centers around penny souvenir machines, in which a coin is mutilated to commemorate an event or location. The legal code (18 USC § 333) spells it out.

Whoever mutilates, cuts defaces, disfigures, or perforates, or unites or cements together, or does any other thing to any bank bill, draft, note or other eveidence of debt issued by any national banking association, or Federal Reserve Bank, or the Federal Reserve System, with intent to render such bank bill, draft, note or other evidence of debt unfit to be reissued, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than six months, or both.

The US Bureau of Engraving and Printing  – a.k.a. “The Money Factory” – doesn’t want you destroying US currency supply.

Despite that, the practice of destroying money is rather common. Most notably, when we commemorate coins – most often pennies – at Disneyland or the fair, swapping out the Lincoln engravings upon a circle for the popular oval shaped keepsakes.

Two US Supreme Court cases, Texas v Johnson (491 U.S. 387 (1989)) and United States v Eichman (496 U.S. 310 (1990), demonstrate that the destruction of money could be a form of protected free speech. In both cases, the Supreme Court ruled the federal government could not prosecute someone for desecrating a United States flag. Indeed, many individuals have referred to Bitcoin not as money, but as free speech. 

The Redditor maintained that the bills were art, and that he didn’t intend to render them unable to circulate.

Images from Imgur.

Last modified: May 21, 2020 10:29 AM UTC