Before there were CryptoPunks, there were Curio Cards. The first historical art collection on Ethereum (second only to Etheria digital real estate project) has seen resurgence after NFT collectors turned their attention to historical on-chain art. They are a collection of 30 collectible cards with variable supply, which have different meanings and of course a rich history.
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Curio Cards History
Curio Cards contract was deployed on May 9th, 2017 on the Ethereum blockchain. This means that it predates CryptoPunks by 45 days or 1.5 months – which were released on 23rd June 2017. It was created by Thomas Hunt, Travis Uhrig, and Rhett Creighton. The cards are better understood as heavily modified ERC-20 tokens, since NFT grade ERC-721 wasn’t available at that time.
That’s why they need wrappers to be compatible with the OpenSea interface. There have been multiple artists who contributed to the Curio Cards projects. These include Phneep (Cards 1 – 10, 14, 15, 16, 20), Cryptograffiti (Cards 11, 12 ,13), Cryptopop (Cards 17, 18, 19), Robek World (Cards 21, 22, 23), Daniel Friedman (Cards 24, 25, 26), Marisol Vengas (Cards 27, 28, 29) and Thoros of Myr (Card 30).
Curio Cards Supply Information
There are a total of 27,997 Curio Cards, after discounting ~1000 burned cards. You can check the supply information in this spreadsheet by Ezrawithacamera.eth. Some of the supply is locked in a faulty wrapper, which doesn’t allow unwrapping them back, these cards are without value for now. As always, there’s a part of supply which hasn’t moved in years and thus it’s out of circulation also. Education (Card#26) is the rarest card with only 106 supply, followed by Yellow (Card# 29) and Passion (Card# 25).
Hidden Meaning 1-10
This part is being reproduced here from Start With NFTs with the explicit permission from the author to share his research. All credits to Jonathan Torrey (Twitter @jon_torrey).
1. Apples: Hunt had an English Literature background and has said the Apple is meant to represent the fall from grace in the story of Adam and Eve, plus Apple computer and it started with an A, making it fitting that it was the first card released in the set.
2. Nuts & 3. Berries: The Nuts and Berries are grouped together intentionally, as they represent sustenance, and reference lyrics from a Talking Head song.
4. Clay: Clay starts the new series of cards that represent the building blocks of art. It’s also the first card on the list with a lower supply.
5. Paint: Paint continues the trend of representing the building blocks of art and offers an even smaller supply of 438.
6. Ink: Ink is part of the same theme as the two cards that precede it — the building blocks of art. What’s fun is that the following cards then represent art that can be made using these building blocks.
7. Sculpture: Sculpture is the first art in the series that represents what can be made with art bulding blocks (clay).
8. Painting: The painting, depicting Mona Lisa, ties to card card 5 (paint) and represents the art you can create with paint. There have been discussions about whether or not this is the first Mona Lisa on the blockchain (logically, this argument makes sense), but there isn’t a definitive source to confirm. Thomas Hunt shared that he told artist Phneep they needed a painting for the collection, and he came back with the Mona Lisa.
9. Book: The book art card matches to card 6, ink. It represents what can be created with ink. 183 copies of the art were locked, leaving a supply of 1,817.
10. Future: Card 10 represents the future and going down the road of the artist’s journey. The first 10 cards set the stage for sustenance, tools to create art, the creations themselves, and now we are able to head down the road toward the future of art in the collection.
Hidden Meaning 11-20
11. BTC Keys: This is the first card in the collection created by a new artist, Cryptograffiti, who’s also been called one of the most “prolific” Bitcoin artists. This card kicks off the “Bitcoin Propaganda” seen across these 10 cards, starting with Bitcoin Keys.
12. Mine Bitcoin: The second card in this set created by Cryptograffiti, depicts a rendition of the Master Card logo. 2,000 copies were issued by 163 were locked, leaving a supply of 1,837. The next few cards in this set take on the theme of using famous and recognizable logo designs with the insertion of bitcoin and cryptocurrency references.
13. BTC : “I used to put these logos on neighborhood ATMs. Repurposing banking materials has remained a theme in my work. I like the idea of using soon-to-be-extinct items to help spread the new cryptocurrency movement.” — Cryptograffiti. This art is based on the Citi logo and it’s no secret this collection of financial-inspired logos is meant to send a message about the artist’s take on the future of cryptocurrency.
14. CryptoCurrency: This art inserts Cryptocurrency into a globally recognized Coca-Cola logo. Thomas Hunt said that Phneep created a lot of Bitcoin movie posters, which can be found here.
15. DigitalCash: This art inserts Cryptocurrency into a globally recognized Wendy’s logo.
16. OriginalCoin: This art inserts Cryptocurrency into a globally recognized Heineken’s logo and completes the set of food and beverage inspired art cards.
17. UASF And USAF “17B”: On August 1st, 2017 a proposal to scale bitcoin was deployed, although it caused some controversy along the way. UASF stands for User-activated soft fork. Effectively, a soft fork becomes a method to create backwards compatibility to supplant historical governance. For a more detailed definition, you can check this article out here.
Luis, the artist, was celebrating UASF, the protocol deployed to help scale bitcoin. Because bitcoin is decentralized, community consensus is required for changes to the blockchain and there was much debate about this new introduction.
The #17 card was discovered on an alternative contract, which meant that there were actually two number 17 cards. Hunt said that people were able to buy the “error” card and lots of people wanted it to be part of the set.
18. To The Moon: After dipping our toe into Bitcoin, this captures the now very recognizable “to the moon!” phrase. Signaling a change in how people view currency and its future.
19. Dog Training: The final card in the “dogs” card set features dogs sitting at a poker table.
20. MadBitcoins: This card depicts MadBitcoins head on James Bond’s body. Initially, this card was supposed to raise money for MadBitcoins but it didn’t work. Mad Bitcoins had a popular YouTube show and is one of the founders of Curio Cards.
Hidden Meaning 21-30
21. The Wizard: This is the first art in this set created by Robek World, who got selected as an artist after creating a gallery for the founders to be a part of the project. When Robek’s cards were released, he couldn’t even buy them.
22. The Bard: This card is unique because it is the only one in the set with the number on the right side of the card. It represents a song-singing leader.
23. The Barbarian: This card could be the first animated NFT (it can only use two frames because of the technology available at the time). It’s said to be Rhett Creighton’s card because he was the tech muscle behind the project.
24. Complexity: Daniel Friedman shared hand-drawn art on his Flickr account (link below) and was brought on board after the founding team discovered the account. He’s currently a researcher in entomology and it was said that he had a great attitude toward his art and spreading it like a hobby.
25. Passion: What’s interesting about this set by Daniel Friedman is that the supply was released as follows: 333 copies, 222 copies, 111 copies. Again, Friedman had a positive attitude toward his art and treated it like a hobby. The way the supply was released reflects this playfulness toward the art.
26. Education: After the 333, 222, and 111 supply releases, plus 5 locked copies of this card, it is the rarest in the entire set. There are 106 total copies and currently 47 owners. Its last sale was 17.9 ETH (over $44,000).
27. Blue: The Blue card starts us off on a set created by Marisol Vengas meant to represent fine art. Marisol Vengas is an anonymous artist, adding some mystery to this microset.
28. Pink: This is the second card in the fine art set with a slightly lower supply than the blue card.
29: Yellow: This is the rarest fine art card in the set with a supply of just 200.
30. Eclipse: This is the only card in the set that was released on the day of the Great American Eclipse. Cards were typically released on Tuesdays, but this card finishes the set and was based on that eclipse on August 21st, 2017 (occurred on a Monday).