Genesis coins were inspired by the creator’s observation that there were not very many physical coins available for holding crypto-currencies other than Bitcoin, Litecoin, and Dogecoin. To fill this need, a ‘generic’ coin was created to represent a dozen different crypto-currencies. Each coin contains a private key for a single crypto-currency. Both the specific crypto-currency and the public key is engraved on the coin. This method of differentiating the coins was chosen instead of minting several small lots of coins due to the impractically high cost of the latter.
Genesis coins commemorate the ‘Genesis Blocks’ of the crypto-currencies they represent. In crypto-currency, a ‘Genesis Block’ refers to the first ‘block’ in the blockchain upon which the currency is based. The ‘mining’ of this block can be seen as the official ‘launch’ of a crypto-currency, and is thus a highly significant event.
Genesis’ distribution model is unique, and is inspired by baseball cards. The majority (about two thirds) of the coins are bought blindly as ‘packs’. These packs are sealed plastic pouches which look identical, meaning that the coin that the buyer receives is random (just like when buying a pack of trading cards). The remaining third of coins were offered for direct (non-random) sale. The model of blind distribution caused interesting results, because there was great variability in the ‘rareness’ and desirability of the coins. Of 300 coins in the first series, 120 were considered ‘premium’ (gold-plated and numbered 1-10 for each of the 12 featured currencies). Of these 120 premium coins, 30 were considered highly desirable due to being made for more mainstream crypto-currencies. The effect that this caused was indeed very similar to that which is commonly observed in baseball card collectors, who are willing to buy large numbers of less desirable cards in the hopes of getting lucky with a rare and valuable card. It is worth asking if Genesis would have been nearly as successful if a traditional distribution model was employed, considering that many collectors are not particularly interested in less popular crypto-currencies.