There are countless reasons why people hold on to collectibles, but sentimental value and market dynamics are undoubtedly at the top of the list. As the thin line between the physical and digital becomes increasingly blurred, fashion and collectibles have proven to be the OG indicators of cultural allegiance and identity for the crypto community. Below we explore 10 of the most sought out crypto collectibles to date.
Deemed as one of the first, if not the VERY first NFTs in existence, Mike Caldwell introduced the physical incarnation of Bitcoin to the market in 2011.
By securely embedding a hidden private key behind a tamper-evident hologram, Caldwell gave Casascius coin holders the ability to physically hold bitcoin, along with the freedom to unlock the equivalent digital bitcoin value at their will. The face of each Cas coin reveals the first eight characters of its unique bitcoin address. This brick and mortar mentality continues to persist in today's virtual world — interacting with bitcoin in a physical state helps individuals conquer the mental blocks surrounding the idea of an intangible internet money.
Beyond its scarcity, Cas coins have also grown in inherent intrinsic value. These coins are now deemed as coveted collectibles in the crypto community, particularly among OG Bitcoin maximalists. It could be argued that no item emanates as much prestige, or is as indicative of being an OG crypto community member, as the Casascius Coin.
For additional information on the history of physical bitcoins, visit Elias Ahonen's website, one of the first and most respected Bitcoin historians.
If you're in the crypto space and haven't heard of Beeple, well, quite frankly, you're living in a hole. Mike Winkelmann, a.k.a. Beeple, is a prolific and internationally acclaimed artist who has become the poster child of crypto art. With his creative genius using Cinema 4D, Beeple transcended his contemporaries by creating far-reaching digital art, music videos, short films, and VJ loops with the likes of Eminem, deadmau5, Tiësto, Katy Perry, and One Direction.
Through his art, Beeple fuses technology, pop culture, politics, and science fiction to convey evocative, satirical, and provocative messages. His most renowned piece is a mosaic of 5,000 images he started creating on May 1st, 2007, named "Everydays: The First 5000 Days". Despite his freelance work with Apple, SpaceX, and international artists, he kept up with his "Everydays" project, even through his wedding day and the birth of his two children. Having sold this NFT for $69,346,250 with major auction house Christie's, "Everydays" positioned Beeple among the top three most valuable living artists to date.
The sale of Beeple's "Everydays" with a globally recognized auction house marked a turning point for his career and the NFT space as a whole. It didn't take long until physical manifestations of Beeple's artwork took hold. This sparked a series of metaphysical projects and partnerships with major brands such as Louis Vuitton.
Limited edition physical versions of Beeple's "Everydays" became available as a spring collection in 2021.
Coincidentally, Beeple shares his last name with the literal founder of art history and scholar of German enlightenment: Johann Joachim Winckelmann. Mr. Winckelmann was notably the first to systematize the notion of seeing art through the lens of the past, highlighting that a piece of art is a product of its time, unintentionally and unequivocally expressing elements of the culture and place it originates from.
The launch of Unisocks marked a period in time where IRL goods finally became integrated into DeFi, particularly in the context of signaling identity and cultural allegiance. Similar to Casascius Coins, Uniswap tested the physical-digital boundaries of the blockchain, taking it even a step further by minting and attaching 500 Unisocks to an automatic market maker (AMM) and plugging it into a liquidity pool (LP).
In essence, rather than introducing Unisocks to the market at fixed price and allowing the secondary market to determine their value, Uniswap applied a bonding curve to enable a dynamic pricing mechanism. As a result, the token price of $SOCKS becomes a function of its supply. In other words, when a token is purchased, the following tokens' price increases proportional to the rate determined by the bonding curve.
When an IRL pair of Unisocks is exchanged for it's equivalent ERC-20 token, users receive an official "Redeemed" Unisocks NFT as an ownership claim and receipt of authenticity. Ultimately, it's safe to say that Unisocks pioneered the next level integration of financial instruments in Ethereum and DeFi with IRL assets.
If you’re not familiar with digital art or Twitter, you’d be forgiven for not knowing about the Bored Ape Yacht Club (BAYC). As a members-only group based on the ownership of its NFTs, BAYC is indisputably one of the most prestigious NFT collections in the world. Numerous public figures, such as Snoop Dogg, Paris Hilton, Stephen Curry, and Mark Cuban couldn't resist the temptation to buy an Ape and join the BAYC community.
Although there are more Ape fans than affiliated NFTs available (Mutant Ape Yacht Club and Bored Ape Kennel Club), BAYC has taken inspiration from their forefathers, CryptoPunks, to introduce limited edition drops for Ape community enthusiasts.
Considering BAYC provides their owners full IP rights, Bored Apes are progressively becoming an "offchain" brand, that is to say, one living outside the blockchain. Many thought leaders, including our very own Megatron, stated that NFT.NYC 2021 marked a turning point for mainstream awareness and adoption of the NFT space. The proliferation and adoption of BAYC's merchandise serves as evidence of this phenomenon.
During the conference, BAYC hosted a series of pop-ups separate from its private weeklong Ape Fest. These pop-ups sell BAYC limited-edition merch based on people's level of association with the community and its current events. White sweatshirts were only available to Ape Fest attendants, black sweatshirts were only available to Bored Ape NFT owners for $800 USD, and regular blue sweatshirts were available to anyone for $400. Each color indicates a different level of involvement with the BAYC community. Needless to say, all BAYC merch sold out.
Another game-changing benchmark for the Bored Ape community was its "Into The Metaverse" collab with Adidas, gmoney, and PUNKS Comic. This partnership speaks volumes about pop culture's increasing demand for IRL merch and cultural alignment with the BAYC.
You can expect to see holders use their Apes in increasingly creative ways; as was with Jenkins, a Yacht Club valet who has been brought to life by becoming a bona fide business and signed by the Creative Artists Agency, a leading global talent agency with several A-listers, including Meryl Streep and Leonardo Di Caprio.
Many critics see the Bored Ape YC as simply JPEGs of apes with unimpressed expressions, while others perceive their expressions as a mirror of our society's desensitization to our stifled socio-political and economic status quo. What your perspective?
Acquired by Nike on December 2021, RTFKT is a creator-centered organization that leverages innovation to create next generation collectibles in the name of culture, creativity, sport and gaming. Since its inception in 2020, RTFKT uses NFTs, game engines, blockchain, and augmented reality to create unique physical-digital products and experiences.
Nonetheless, it was RTFKT's sneaker collaboration with FEWOCiOUS that set the stage for a surge in NFT partnerships holistically. The 18-year-old star artist partnered with RTFKT in early 2021 to drop "FEWO WORLD Open Edition", a set of three original collectible sneakers on Nifty Gateway. All three collectible sneaker NFT editions are redeemable for their physical counterparts, giving consumers a taste of what's coming next for the crypto community:
Benoit Pagotto followed by stating: “This collab is the most creative, fun, and groundbreaking we’ve ever had the chance to work on so far. Our thinking was: ‘let’s show what everyone imagines to be the dopest drops will be in 2024, and let’s make that today,’”.
As such, it wouldn't be long until RTFKT partnered with several artists and entities to push the boundaries of contemporary culture through daring projects such as "Space Drip" and their CryptoPunks project.
Having sold 9 CryptoPunks for nearly 17 million USD via Christie's, and achieving record-breaking sales, the LarvaLabs project became one of the most recognized digital art projects in the NFT space. Naturally, LarvaLabs joined forces with RTKFT to drop a series of 10,000 unique CryptoPunk sneakers, one designed per Punk and available only to the owner of the digital avatar. CryptoPunk owners are entitled to redeem:
"RTFKT Punks Project is all about Punks and how a small group of people can create a huge impact." CryptoPunk & RTFKT site.
It is clear that RTFKT has played a crucial role in shaping the fashion industry IRL and in the metaverse, and will continue to be a major player in the future. Although only a very small segment of the population is currently comfortable spending thousands of USD on virtual shoes, this sentiment is slowly changing. As such, it's safe to say the above-mentioned collectibles will also have a special place in NFT history.
A prolific British assemblagist, painter, and conceptual artist, Damien Hirst recently entered into the NFT space with his first collection — a five-year intensive project composed of 10,000 unique, hand-drawn, pieces of art called "The Currency".
Money and art are conceptually blended through "The Currency", exhibiting Hirst's creative genius by creating NFTs that must either be redeemed for their physical counterparts or preserved in their digital forms by July 27, 2022. If collectors do not exchange their NFTs for their physical counterparts during this timeframe, the physical artwork will be destroyed. Vice versa, if collectors wish to exchange their NFTs for their physical counterparts before the deadline, their NFTs will be burned.
When redeemed, each physical piece resembles a bank note and comes with Hirst's hand-painted art, an original song lyric, a watermark, and Hirst's signature. "The Currency" NFTs were on sale through HENI, an international art services company, and are now tradable on the HENI and 4K marketplace.
In essence, the project may be considered a social experiment and poses provocative questions: do we preserve the traditional art world, or do we destroy it, in favor of the digital? But perhaps more importantly, is there a world where we can have both?
Established in 2012, Bitcoin Magazine is the de facto source of expert commentary on Bitcoin, blockchain technology, and the overall crypto industry.
Bitcoin Magazine is the very first publication devoted exclusively to Bitcoin, providing cutting edge analysis, research, and thought leadership at the intersection of finance and technology. The magazine was founded by Mihai Alsie and Vitalik Buterin, the creator of Ethereum, publishing their first issue in May 2012.
After the first edition launched in May 2012, they joined Florida-based Coin Publishing LLC to produce 22 issues. However, it is the first edition that is highly coveted due to its historical significance and finite supply. Owning the first edition of Bitcoin Magazine is considered a huge flex in the crypto space and signals loyalty to the cause from its inception.
In March 2021, Mango Markets was launched to provide a single venue to lend, borrow, swap, and leverage trade crypto assets on the Solana chain. As a decentralized cross-margin trading platform, traders can use up to 5x leverage with Solana's lightning-fast network speed and near-zero transaction fees. Perpetuals permit an initial leverage of up to 10x, and maintenance leverage of 20x. The platform relies on Solana's efficient high-speed framework for their markets.
Mango Market Caps Edition 0 ($MCAPS) launched on April 1st, 2021, and are Solana's take on creating a Unisocks-like product, only this time taking the form of a premium hat. There are only 500, dynamically priced, cotton mango caps in existence. At the time of redemption, owners have the option to choose between two colors: Mango or Black.
Mango caps were prominently used during Breakpoint, the first conference organized by the Solana foundation that brought together global industry leaders, builders, and innovators. Interestingly enough, the conference was held in Lisbon, Portugal, a country famous for its premium mangos. Similar to Unisocks, owning a Mango Cap is an emblem of being an early adopter of blockchain and a member of the subsequent community. It's safe to say this piece of merchandise also has its place in crypto collectible history.
Bitcoin may be considered "digital gold," but tungsten is the only metal that has resonated with Crypto Twitter to date. Tungsten cubes range in size and price, with a 1 centimeter, 0.54 ounce cube priced at $29.99, and a 4-inch, 41.6 pound cube priced at $3,499.99.
It all started with a tweet from Neeraj Agarwal, CoinCenter's communication director, posting about the "Global Tungsten Shortage":
Following Agarwal's tweet, Nic Carter, the co-founder of Coin Metrics, also tweeted a screen shot of the item's Amazon page, indicating that only three 4-inch tungsten cubes remained from the supplier - Midwest Tungsten Service Store.
After Agarwal and Carter's tweets, Midwest Tungsten Service's saw a 300% increase in sales, sold out on Amazon in less than 10 hours, and officially became a full-blown meme on Crypto Twitter.
Owners rave about their obsession with their cubes in product reviews, claiming they experience an "intensely physical sensation". It wasn't long until an initiative like the Tungsten Cube NFT project emerged and took our beloved metal into the Metaverse. The Tungsten Cube NFT project's end goal is to support crypto policy efforts by applying a 9.69% royalty to all secondary resales, donating the funds to crypto advocacy groups. For more information on the Tungsten Cube NFT project, click here.
How do you connect with your favorite luxury brands?
Whether it's Apple, Supreme, or a different icon, if you want to get the best swag right when it drops, you'll usually face massive lines, that is, if you have it in you to camp-out. If you have a job like the rest of us, you likely face marked up prices from secondary resellers. In the luxury watch industry, when new exclusive models drop, you typically can't even buy them for MSRP unless you have an established relationship with an authorized dealer.
That's why 4K's provably-fair drops represent such a game-changing innovation for both the crypto and consumer brands world. Provably-Fair Drops are the Web 3.0 equivalent of camping outside the Apple Store for the latest iPhone model.
By utilizing blockchain technology, brands can ensure fair access for specific product releases. Hashing, a security aspect of blockchains, enables provable randomness. Raffle bots and rigging can be confidently screened out since it is too capital and time intensive to participate.
This is completely auditable from the community, so it ensures that there is no way anyone can "game" a drop, which encourages a dedicated audience of loyal fans to participate. Any Ethereum user (with capital in their wallet) can register with their address for the drop, which prevents bots and prioritizing insiders. Wallet addresses closest to the specific hash after the drop deadline win the giveaway, ensuring provable fairness throughout.
Provably-fair drops are a unique way to use blockchain to reward true fans, not just speculating flippers.
In September 2021, 4K "provably-fair dropped" a pair of Yeezy 350's as a physically-backed NFT. And don't worry, it wasn't just about being early to the trend. 4K is building the infrastructure to support this at scale for brands to ensure only true loyalists and communities can get in on a sweepstakes.
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