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Disclaimer: All information used within this dialogue has been referenced from public sources. Please note that dates, timelines, and graphics may be subject to inaccuracies. It’s possible that rediscoveries, relaunches, and revivals may have occurred prior to their public announcement. For the purpose of this series, we will be following the publicly available timeline for the sake of narrative and storytelling.
Created by: Jake Gallen
Published: November 28th, 2022
Last Edit: December 30th, 2022
Wait!! If this is your first visit you’ll want to read Part 1 & 2 first!
Okay, we’ve almost made it to 2022! Hip hip…hooray? How many more of these “vintage tokens” can one find? Even after 70+ historical events from March 2021 through December 2021, one would think that the amount of smart contracts may be drying up faster than the world’s water supply.
Well, you might be wrong. As we move into 2022, the Historical NFT community begins to evolve their perspective on what vintage digital real estate may exist across all blockchains. But Jake, we’ve already seen Rare Pepes and Twitter Eggs find some traction. Well, my little pixelated Christopher Columbus, it’s time to strap in because the tension that is about to fill the air will be thicker than the pollution that exists above your favorite metropolis.
Etherization, a 2016 NFT project that predates Pixel Map, was revealed by NFT Archaeologist Adam McBride on December 14th, 2021. During the relaunch, Etherization creator Vedran insisted on launching the freshly wrapped tokens at .88 ETH with over 90% of the original tokens remaining to be minted. By the end of the minting process, Vedran ended up profiting over $1M+ USD. However, the pricing of the tokens came under heavy scrutiny and it was later discovered (due to some heavy dev auditing from community members) that the wrapped tokens were unwrappable. This was because the original mechanic of the tokens automatically relisting at a higher price (common in early NFT experiments) had to be turned off in order to wrap and sell them on OpenSea.
Vedran was also found to possess a master key, which raised concerns about the potential for “rug pulling” the entire project. In response, Vedran made a video of him physically burning the master key. Despite the minting costs, unwrappable tokens, and master key controversy, the project has continued to face challenges.
-Wrapped Etherization is currently available on OpenSea for .65 ETH
Following in pepe.wtf’s footsteps, rarejapanesenfts.com sprang up into action on December 18th, 2021. This Japanese-inspired Counterparty explorer covers Japanese Pepes, Memorychain, Oasis Mining, BitGirls, Force of Will, Japanese Spells of Genesis, Japanese BitCorn, and Badger Capsule. All of which exist on the Bitcoin NFT Dapp, Counterparty. The first Japanese tokens were created in 2015 and extend to the present day.
Happy New Year, friends! We’ve made it through the end of the year tax harvesting and now we’re excited for this calendar reset. Unfortunately, “Happy New Year” is about as cheerful as the first half of the year will bring. Many controversies, questions, and intentions will be called into consideration over the coming months.
Retrospectively, many of these questions were needed in order for the emerging Historical NFT sector to grow. Some personal lines in the sand will be drawn. Lucky for us, 2022 brings more than just rediscoveries (and controversy) as we see more infrastructure pieces begin to pop up. Social media accounts, websites, DAOs, communities, thought pieces, publications, and investment funds are some of the many pillars that begin settling in the world of digital antiquities.
OldNFT.com, created by 0xSchatz, has become a popular destination for Pre-ERC721 assets (those created in March 2018 or earlier). This Old Token explorer covers the entire history of non-fungible tokens on Bitcoin, Namecoin, Emercoin, Counterparty, Dogeparty, and Ethereum. In addition to providing information about the assets, OldNFT.com also offers links to block explorers, social media accounts, relevant information, floor price tracking, and an aggregate Historical NFT marketplace. 10/10 Historical Dentists would recommend it.
LaoDAO is a Historical NFT investment group that raised capital through NFT sales which was used to acquire Historical NFTs. Tokens were minted at around 0.2 ETH and together the group raised over 30 ETH to spend on HNFTs. LaoDAO.eth acquired some Curio Cards, Etheria Tiles, 2017 MoonCats, and a handful of other vintage NFTs. However, despite spending some capital on rare assets, the group’s Twitter, website, and minting page has been inactive since August 2022.
Okay, buckle up for this one folks. This is where the tension starts to rise for many within and outside of the Historical NFT space. I’m not going to assign blame here and will just present the facts for you to decide for yourself. It’s unfortunate that the NFT community has been overshadowed by controversy and even nearly a year later, still has to defend itself. Personally, I’ve tried to cover as many angles as possible with Leonidas, (here is my interview with Leonidas) who finds himself at the center of this event.
Before we dive in, let me tell you about CryptoSkulls. They’re a 2019 PFP (pixel art) project created by Russian native Alex Slayer, who claimed in November 2021 that they are the second oldest 10k PFP project. In some interviews, he said that he drew inspiration for the project from the iconic 2017 NFT project CryptoPunks. The skulls are pixelated and follow a similar rarity structure to Punks and other common PFP projects. A unique distribution feature here (that is often overlooked) is that all 10k skulls were pre-minted in 2019 and owned by Alex. This adds a dynamic element that you will read about below.
On January 11th, 2022, CryptoSkulls set a new OpenSea record with 10,236 sales in just one day. The project’s value skyrocketed from a floor price of .05 ETH to over 4 ETH in a matter of days, rewarding early community members for their patience and commitment. This sudden surge in value was not a typical “rediscovery,” as the community behind CryptoSkulls had remained active. However, it was a breakthrough moment that left many wondering how the project was able to increase in value so dramatically.
Okay, here’s what happened (begin at 47:16 to hear Leonidas’ explanation). On January 11th, Leonidas received a message from Matt Medved about a 2019 collection that he had just purchased. Matt had been engaging with the Historical NFT community for months at this point (while Leonidas and Matt had been privately communicating during this time). So, Leonidas took a look at the project, came to a thesis, and began sweeping Crypto Skulls. His goal was to purchase 1000 and he ended up with 888, spending 53.28 ETH and another ~50 ETH on gas. As this happened, a combination of bots, wallet watchers, and on-chain sleuths began to pick up on the movement and also joined in on the purchasing party.
Leonidas tweets about his purchase falling 112 skulls short of his goal. Over the next 24 hours, we see many prominent NFT influencers, including GaryVee, join in on the action. This catapults the price action and discovery to never before seen multiples in just 24 hours. Remember that because all of the tokens were minted by the creator Alex, every purchase is assigned to the leaderboard.
35 hours later, Leonidas is accused of pumping and dumping (P&D)over 200 Crypto Skulls so that he can “break even with a little profit” from his large purchase, which totaled over $250,000 at the time. During this time, he sold every Crypto Skull for under 1 ETH, and he even sold his CryptoPunk to purchase more Crypto Skulls for over 1 ETH each.
Over the course of the following 72 hours, Alex Slayer is accused of selling Crypto Skulls into the liquidity swing at “dynamic pricing,” meaning he was listing skulls from the original .05 ETH up to a high of nearly .8 ETH per Skull (remember he pre-minted all of them, so he has control over the pricing for a first-time purchase of a “fresh” Crypto Skull).
At this point, the selling from Alex Slayer stopped, with a little over 2,000 remaining in his possession. Over the next few months, a community formed, a DAO was created, and 1,500 of those remaining Skulls were donated to the DAO by Alex himself in March 2022, which was valued at over $1 million USD at the time.
Outside of the price action, another controversial topic was the labeling of a 2019 NFT as “Historical.” Up until that time, only a handful of on-chain generative projects, including Autoglyphs, had been labeled as such.
After some time has passed, Crypto Skulls has established itself as a vocal and largely productive community within the Historical NFT community. Many new members have found themselves purchasing earlier pixel NFT projects, including MoonCats and Crypto Punks V1 & V2.
Moving past the “breakthrough moment,” the Skulls community has remained one of the most active communities to this day. Despite ongoing FUD from January 2022, the community has continued to move forward, launching Demonic Skulls, hiring DAO-funded community positions, and currently working on deploying a game. Additionally, GaryVee purchased a Skull Lord for 100 ETH, and Matt Medved continues to support the project in the present day.
-CryptoSkulls are currently available on OpenSea for .4 ETH
TThe CryptoSkulls explosion was only just the beginning for what January 2022 would bring for Historical NFTs. The energy in the air felt very similar to that of the rediscoveries in August 2021, but this time it brought even more attention, capital, controversy, and stories.
Alas, my friends, we find ourselves just 5 days since the chaotic CryptoSkulls moon shot. This project below is not a “rediscovery” but an actual discovery, dating back to 2011! Prior to this moment, the earliest known NFTs did exist on Namecoin, but only dating back to 2014. So this discovery not only filled the gap towards the earliest days of blockchain history but also spurred many needed questions, conversations, and debates that are still ongoing today.
“Back in 2011, a few pioneers in the blockchain space used an encoding language called Punycode to add various forms of symbols, emojis, ASCII art, etc as NFTs onto the Namecoin blockchain. This gave birth to some of the 1st visual NFTs in the history of cryptographic collectables: Punycodes” -Punycodes.xyz
On January 16th, 2022, DevotedOne tweeted about a discovery he made of 3365 expired tokens on the Namecoin blockchain, dating back to 2011–2018, that were revealed to be hidden images, referred to as PunyCodes.
This was an exciting moment for NFT history buffs as Devoted stated that he had only claimed 2% of the total supply and left the remaining for the community to register. He hoped for a MoonCats-like discovery moment, and that’s exactly what he got! One of the issues with some rediscoveries is that early excavators will come in, claim a large majority (50% or more) of the tokens, and then sell them at high prices, damaging momentum and leaving bag-holders and outsider spectators with a sour taste in their mouths.
After all Punycodes has been claimed and the dust had settled, a few common questions began to surface.
This debate is still ongoing and has caused a divide within the broader Historical NFT community (more on this to come later). I won’t offer stats on who may sit on each side, but if you are a fan of Namecoin tokens (which Vitalik Buterin mentions as “non-fungible assets” in the 2013 Ethereum whitepaper), then you are likely to own Punycodes, which is one of the larger token communities on Namecoin.
-PunyCodes are currently available on OpenSea for .5 ETH
On January 17th, 2022, the CryptoPunks V1 Wrapper went live on Rarible, bringing the original pixelated 10k pfp collection back into the spotlight. In the early days of Larva Labs’ deployment, a marketplace bug allowed buyers to purchase CryptoPunks and keep their ETH. After discovering the exploit, Matt and John quickly fixed the bug and deployed a V2 contract, airdropping a second version of the punks to all original owners. There are many differences and myths surrounding the V1 and V2 versions of CryptoPunks, which have been debunked in an article by Sean Bonner.
-Wrapped CryptoPunks V1 are currently available on OpenSea for 5 ETH
On January 29th, 2022, a community member decided to delve deeper into the early days of Namecoin and discovered the Namecoin Identities, or /id, collection. These identities were created in 2012 as a decentralized solution for online identity services, similar to how we use social media handles to engage in online discussions or “Log in with Facebook” today. The individual behind this collection, known as “Khal,” made over 30 practical implementations of this strategy. This discovery sparked further curiosity and discussion within the community about the potential and experimentation that took place on the Namecoin blockchain in its early days.
-Namecoin Identities are currently available on OpenSea for .05 ETH
Things began to quiet down over the next 60 days. But as any crypto native knows, quiet time is for BuIdLeRs! If you’ve made it this far and haven’t been able to distinguish the parallel of a “rediscovery” to a fresh “NFT Mint,” you may need to read Part I & II again. Not every rediscovery turns out to be valuable, just as not every fresh NFT mint (hint: most don’t). But one thing they definitely do bring is fresh attention, interest, and above all, community members. So before we dive back in, let’s show some appreciation for the contributing members in the Historical NFT community who do things outside of excavation.
In February 2022, the MTM Series, a collection of four Counterparty tokens (MTMCOLLECTOR, MTMSONG, MTMPRODUCER, MTMALBUM), was revived by Adam B. Levine, an early XCP and XDP pioneer, and a few members of the Historical NFT community. The tokens, which were originally used as redemption for Adam’s music album from 2016, are considered some of the earliest music NFTs. They were auctioned off to collectors in February 2022.
-MTM Series is currently available on OpenSea for .2 ETH
In March 2022, the launch of Pride Punks caused some controversy in the Historical NFT community. Pride Punks were the first ever CryptoPunks derivative, dating back to 2018. However, only 2 of the 10,000 possible tokens were minted in 2018, so the remaining 9998 had to be minted in 2022. This caused issues because the original contract required an original ERC20 V2 CryptoPunk to be “wrapped” in order to mint a new ERC721 Pride Punk. With Crypto Punks trading at a $100,000 floor in 2022, many holders were unwilling to “wrap” their Punks in order to mint a Pride Punk.
To address this issue, creator Dennison Bertram bypassed the “wrapping” function and directly minted the remaining collection, albeit at a cost of around 0.02–0.05 ETH per Punk. The royalties for the mint were set at 7%, with 3.5% going to the creator and 3.5% going to the DAO. 500 Punks were held back for the original creator and 500 for the DAO and marketing. However, Dennis later defaulted his share of royalties to the community after some complaints.
During the transfer of the remaining 362 Pride Punks (including all apes and aliens), there was a slip-up and the tokens needed to complete the 10,000 collection were lost forever, leaving the collection at 9638. This caused a split in the community and stalled the momentum of the project.
-Pride Punks are currently available on OpenSea for .03 ETH
On April 24th, 2022, an event occurred that caused a significant rift in the Historical NFT community. This event, which is still being debated today, had a lasting impact on the community and has left philosophical divides that have not yet been fully resolved. Despite efforts to repair relationships and move forward, the divide remains strong. The event in question was a highly controversial and divisive moment that has left a lasting mark on the community.
Back in 2021, the term “Historical NFT” was widely used in the community to label the emerging industry surrounding early NFTs. However, not everyone agreed on its use. Evaluating the historical significance, cultural value, technical innovation, age, community, and assigning value through a personal mathematical algorithm is not a one-size-fits-all formula. There is no universal agreement on what is the most rare, valuable, and technically superior. These differences in opinion had been simmering for 12 months as fortunes were made, audiences grew, and old projects were revived.
As the community grew, opinions began to shift. Some attribute this to personal beliefs, while others believe it was due to public manipulation. Leading up to April 24th, 2022, there were several moments of contention; Terra Nullius’ non-transferability, the Crypto Skulls “Influencer P&D”, any “unintentional” Namecoin collection, the idea of expiring historical tokens, retroactive image changes, historical date cut-off, token vs. contract provenance, and pretty much any rediscovery in 2022. It seemed that issues were becoming more frequent every day.
It was a tweet by Leonidas that sparked an “Emergency Twitter Spaces” with the Historical & NFT community and set off alarms. Between January 2022 and April 2022, Leonidas had claimed sweeps on Crypto Skulls (2019), Chain Faces (2020), Avastars (2020), Either Things (2021), Doogies (2021), and Eightbit Me (2022). [mint dates of projects]
Many felt that this “dilution”, changing of definitional goals, and combination of previous sweeps with followed-up tweeting would permanently damage the niche industry of Historical NFTs.
Many members of the community began to vocalize their opinions publicly, causing inner and outer turmoil. Even large accounts and influencers outside of Historical NFTs commented on the recent issues. This eventually led to Blackstar hosting a Twitter Spaces that lasted for over 5 hours.
During this event, Leonidas took the stage and faced questioning from the community for hours. Some brought attacks, criticism, and expressed concern about the direction of the industry. Leonidas claimed he hadn’t sold any “Historical NFTs” since CryptoSkulls (which is supported by on-chain data from his wallet) and argued that the definition of “what is historical” shouldn’t be guarded because there is no true definition of what others may consider to be historical or valuable.
The recording of the Twitter Spaces event has since expired, so all that remains are memories and tweets from the time. Many people “took sides” while others used the debate as an opportunity to try and understand different perspectives. Now, many months later, camps on opinion seem to dwell in their Discords, occasionally going to Twitter for some threads on the topic. In my opinion, the event was necessary and many have mended their relationships since. There are many thought pieces available on the topic, but one that may provide additional context is written by White Rabbit.
Phew, we’ve made it past the controversy…for now! Let’s give some shoutouts, acknowledgements, and wrap things up until something else decides to drop a bomb on the morale of the community.
What a crazy world we live in! I’m looking forward to seeing what the future holds for the NFT community over the next 6+ months. It’s likely that we’ll see another edition of NFT Archaeology Calendar rediscovered in the future. In the meantime, be sure to check out Part I and Part II for more information on the history and evolution of NFTs.
NFT Archaeology Calendar I: Front-Running History
NFT Archaeology Calendar II: Uncovering Ground Zero
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