In the first half of 2021, the total market capitalization for NFTs was $2.5 billion. In July alone, sales spiked to $1.5 billion, and in the past 24 hours (as of August 8th), 42,242 NFTs were sold for $79,120,000.
There’s a lot of excitement (and money) going into new projects, but there’s an alternative trend that’s been more loudly growing the past week: the rediscovery of historically significant NFT projects.
Released in June 2017, the collection of 10,000 unique avatars has an all-time sales volume of 302,337.06 ETH. That’s more than 3x the volume of the #2 project on OpenSea’s top NFT list.
In January of 2021, the project’s sales volume was $6,094,519.47, and 8 days into August, the sales volume is at $159,390,063. The average sale of a CryptoPunk went from $96,902 in June to $173,463 in August, a 79% increase.
This has prompted people to go back in time and look at early projects that offer historical significance as a hedge against the exploding supply of new projects:
Below are the top 5 NFT projects released in 2018 and prior ranked by 7-day sales volume.
Released in May of 2017, Curio.Cards is a collection of 30 different cards that each have a corresponding meaning. Not all cards have the same supply or artist, and there are several styles of cards for collectors to choose from. It is recognized by OpenSea as the “Oldest known NFT art project on Ethereum.” This title was transferred from CryptoPunks by OpenSea after Curio Cards was rediscovered.
And collectors are taking note.
In the past 7 days, 3,508 assets from the project sold at an average price of $3,978:
3 days ago, four Curio Cards set all-time record prices:
There’s a rich history behind the cards, the artists and the founders, as well as some of the technical aspects. The project was released so long ago that a new wrapper needed to be built to make them compatible with OpenSea.
Curio Cards currently have a floor price of 0.42 ETH and an active supply of 15,300 items owned by 2,100 wallets.
MoonCats was launched a few months after Curio Cards, on August 10th, 2017. The project originally allowed users to scan for the cats using a process similar to Ether mining.
3,365 cats were “rescued” in the first 12 months of the project, but it wasn’t until a Twitter user re-discovered the project on March 12th, 2021 that the rest were mined:
There are 13,400 assets on OpenSea with 2,900 owners and a 0.79 floor price.
CryptoArte’s NFTs (called paintings by the creator) are unique in that they are the first generative (an algorithm determined the look for each painting) art on Ethereum that uses the blockchain as the basis to generate the art. Using the blockchain as the foundation for generative art would later be used by Autoglyphs.
The project tells the story of the Ethereum blockchain through images. Each painting consists of 576 blocks that correspond to a block on Ethereum. The blocks are of varying colors and symbols that visually represent what took place to produce that block. This includes unique icons representing each of the miners who mined the blocks, different colors to represent the difficulty to mine, and many other features.
The first 10 NFTs were released on July 13, 2018 and the developer has continued to release the paintings in small batches up until today. When fully distributed, there will be 9,895 unique NFTs.
The Autoglyphs project is recognized as the first-ever on-chain (fully contained on the blockchain) generative art project and has a floor price of 290 ETH. The eye-popping numbers are motivating people to give CryptoArte a second look.
CryptoArte is the first generative art on the Ethereum blockchain, but it was not done fully on-chain.
This is the first project on this list that allows users to purchase virtual parcels of land to be used in a blockchain-based virtual world. The concept of Decentraland was first written about in March of 2017.
It was released about 1 year later in October of 2018 and allows its users to buy, develop and sell their land. They can also meet up and interact in the space:
In the past 7 days, 95 assets sold at an average price of $8,700:
For reference, these land parcels sold for about $20 each back in 2017.
The first demo CryptoKittie was revealed in October 2017 and launched with the concept of breeding. Each cat has a different “cattribute” that can be passed down to its offspring.
CryptoKitties had some notable six-figure sales in 2017 and 2018 and was not as dormant as other projects on this list, as there were 3.2 million transactions on the smart contract in October of 2018.
In the past 7 days, 1,769 assets were sold at an average price of $459:
The NFT market is heating up, but practical optimism and not spending more than you can afford to lose are both good ideas.
3 out of the 4 top projects in terms of sales volume over the past 24 hours have gone to projects released in 2021 (some as recent as a few days ago).
It may be exciting to get into new project drops, but given that there are 2,996 active projects on OpenSea.io (and growing) with just over 57,000 active wallets (buyers and sellers), these projects are worth a second look as they hold some scarcity due to their history.