The Smithsonian Institute is currently showing its inaugural National Numismatic Collection “The Value of Money”, and Bitcoin is among the exhibits.
Bitcoin Among the 400 Piece Smithsonian ‘Value of Money’ Collection
Just recently on Reddit, someone shared some great snapshots of Bitcoin’s role in the Smithsonian Numismatic collection. The exhibit is a tribute to how the concept of money has changed fundamentally throughout society. It starts with the earliest origins of currency and goes all the way to present time, with digital fiat and cryptocurrencies.
The phenomenon of how money has evolved has fascinated economists and social philosophers for centuries. In the beginning, primitive people traded commodities by bartering locally. Over time, civilization developed mediums of exchange such as seashells, and coined precious metals began to appear. Throughout many decades, things changed to where paper currencies represented a portion of a physical commodity.
Today, money isn’t the way it used to be. Now we have fiat currencies backed by absolutely nothing and printed on a whim. However this action has led to considerable economic booms and busts. Significant devaluation has come alongside inflation, to the point where some countries’ paper currencies are almost worthless. Then, Bitcoin appeared as the world economy was shuddering from a terrible downturn in 2008.
Numismatic Association Opened the Exhibit’s Vault Doors Last Year
The Smithsonian Numismatic showcase has a vault door marking the entrance to the exhibit hall. The presentation began last year in July with American Numismatic Association executive Jeff Garrett opening the vault doors to the institution’s “The Value of Money” exhibit. There are 400 objects in the collection, with some very rare specimens. Examples include a 1933 Double Eagle, a 1934 $100,000 note, a Yap Island stone, credit cards — and of course Bitcoin.
Bitcoin’s section details a small description of what cryptocurrencies are and how the digital currency is “generated by a computer protocol.” The collection shows a picture of an exchange rate between USD and Bitcoin. Unfortunately, the chart starts in 2014 — considered one of Bitcoin’s worst years by mainstream media. The exhibit also has a physical Bitcoin Magazine from 2014, and a mobile phone which can send various digital currencies.
History Will Show Whether Cryptocurrency is a Banker’s Friend or Foe
The cryptocurrency is like no other money created before. In fact, it has changed the very way we think about trade and interact with a new medium of exchange. Many people believe Bitcoin will transform the money system in some way. Former Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke once said, “[Virtual Currencies] may hold long-term promise, particularly if the innovations promote a faster, more secure and more efficient payment system.”
Alongside central bankers giving cryptocurrencies praise today, many others believe Bitcoin will disrupt the existing financial system. It’s true that many people feel Satoshi created the protocol to combat the devaluation and inflation threatening world economies today. Rick Falkvinge, Founder of the Pirate Party, once said, “Bitcoin will do to banks what email did to the postal industry.”
The inclusion of Bitcoin within the Smithsonian Value of Money exhibit shows the world cannot deny its history in society. The Bitcoin community hopes its impact lasts, much like the influence gold has had on trade for thousands of years. Time will tell if this happens, but so far Bitcoin sure has made its mark.