Understanding the early history of encryption art: from pizza trading to Pepe frog.


The art of encryption is a hot topic recently. Many people marvel, when did blockchain and art become so hot? Looking back at the history of encryption art, we find that the bond between block chain and art is the grass snake gray line. Ten years ago, people could not only buy pizza with bitcoin, but also buy paintings. Seven years ago, when a picture of a dog’s head became a new currency, Logo, was later valued at more than $2 billion. Six years ago, art combined with paper wallets became the carrier of cryptocurrency. Five years ago, the first blockchain game was born. In the past two years, this art is no longer limited to static paintings, they can move, sound and even programmable, what they have in common is that they are stored or right on the block chain. In this paper, layers of textual research, peeling silk cocoon, comb the development process of encryption art, in order to provide dinner for all encryption art lovers.

Async Art’s whole First Supper painting was sold for more than 300 ETH.

In 2020, there was a lot of news about the sky-high prices of encrypted art. Many people have only two feelings about encrypted art: “expensive” and “I don’t know what to draw”, but this does not hinder the prosperity of the cryptographic art circle.

So what is the encryption art (CryptoArt)? On this issue, the benevolent see benevolence, the wise see wisdom. According to DappReview’s years of experience in the encryption art community and NFT circle, if we define it according to the consensus of the community and users, encryption art mainly has the following characteristics:

Decentralization: supported by blockchain technology, works of art are confirmed or stored on the decentralized blockchain, which are truly owned by the holder, and the artist can distribute them without being limited to third parties or middlemen.

  • * No permission is required: anyone (regardless of race, nationality, geographical location) can trade, transfer, or even destroy.
    Broad art form: do not rigidly adhere to the picture form, can be animated gif, images, has also developed a programmable form of works of art.
  • * Open and effective value measurement: the value of works of art depends on the preferences of users and the free trading price of an open market.

Encrypted works of art, high or low, high or low.

Don’t take these characteristics as the standard, you might as well listen to the historical story first, and maybe you will come up with your own answer. Let’s start with this story ten years ago.

Pizza deal– the beginning of everything.
2008 was an eventful year: the subprime crisis, the Wenchuan earthquake, Russia’s march into Georgia. On October 31 of this year, the white paper on Bitcoin was officially released. On January 3, 2009, the creation block of Bitcoin was born.

In the twinkling of an eye, in May 2010, a programmer named Laszlo Hanyecz bought about $25 pizza for 10, 000 bitcoins on the bitcoin forum BitcoinTalk. This may be the first case of a physical transaction with bitcoin, causing ripples in the quiet cryptocurrency circle (hereinafter referred to as the “coin circle”).


The deal did not cause significant fluctuations in bitcoin prices that year, as the famous MtGox exchange (jokingly known as the “Mentougou Exchange”) only opened in July, and the channels through which bitcoins could be traded were not convenient to use at that time. People’s discussion about Bitcoin mainly revolves around the imagination and technical principles of the future of Bitcoin. But the historical status of the pizza deal is important because it unknowingly planted a seed that “bitcoin can be used to trade things” in people’s minds, waiting for it to take root at the right time.

Everyone in the currency circle knows that the rise and fall of the currency price is the barometer of the circle. So what else could the right time be but skyrocketing?

When the MtGox exchange opened in July 2010, the price of bitcoin was between $0.05 and $0.07. Prices rose gradually in the fourth quarter of the same year, and by February 2011, when they were equivalent to the dollar, many people recalled the pizza deal. The price of the currency stirs people’s imagination: if bitcoin can be used to trade pizza, why not everything else? Bitcoin continued to rise in April, peaking at nearly $32 in June. With the arrival of the first big bull market of Bitcoin, there are a large number of Bitcoin transaction posts on BitcoinTalk forums: domain names, design services, courses, DVD, games. To name a few, including works of art, of course.

Works of art have something to do with Bitcoin in this way. The surge has also stimulated people’s imagination of the expansibility of the blockchain.


The ideal is very plump, the reality is very bony. The technology at that time was indeed a far cry from the ideal, and the picture they portrayed has been realized today. But at that time, most of the responses they received were negatives and questions, and the idea was too advanced.

Colored Coin (color coin)– the sprout of NFT.
In June 2011, BTC prices peaked and turned down until they fell to around $2 in November of the same year, a decline of more than 90 per cent.

There is a joke in the circle of domestic practitioners in the field of encryption: make money in a bull market and do things in a bear market.

The frenzy of the bull market has greatly increased the popularity of Bitcoin, allowing many people to join the circle in the bear market. In 2012, a number of companies related to blockchain were established, including the famous Coinbase. It was also in this year that the idea of color coin (Colored Coin) appeared.

At the end of March 2012, a man named Yoni Assia wrote an article on his website called “bitcoin 2.x (aka Colored Bitcoin)-initial specs” (Bitcoin 2.x (also known as Bitcoin 2.x)-the initial introduction), describing his thoughts on Colored Bitcoin. Students who speculate in the stock market may have heard of the company eToro, and this Yoni is the CEO of eToro.


In this article, Colored Bitcoin’s vision is limited to creating new tokens on the Bitcoin network. But as more and more people join it, the function of, Colored Coin has been expanded, from a simple idea to a complete white paper.

The name of Vitalik, the founder of Ethernet Square, also appeared in the author of the white paper.

The core idea of the improved color coin is that if the bitcoins can be marked and the marked bitcoins can be traced, then these special bitcoins can produce many other uses. Don’t underestimate this function. For example, if people put different marks on a blank piece of paper, it can have different uses: fill in your name, ID number and address. It is the community pass during the epidemic; if this piece of paper is marked and issued by different countries, it can also become paper money from different countries.

According to the white paper, once this technology is implemented, Bitcoin can be used as a commodity certificate, issue stocks and bonds, and issue other cryptocurrencies based on bitcoin blockchain.

Some people may ask: what does this have to do with the art of encryption?

Ownership and copyright have always been the pain of network virtual products. The most famous feature of the blockchain, in addition to decentralization, is that it cannot be tampered with. Once Bitcoin can be tagged and tied to virtual products, the problem of power assurance seems to be solved.

Whether this form of affirmation has legal effect or not, at least it can build trust among people who believe the story. With this relationship of trust, the industry can continue to develop.

Color coin once caused a heated discussion in the bitcoin community, but it did not land for a long time. Some people say that it was because there was little demand for color coins at that time, while others said that the attention of the community was diverted by the congestion of the bitcoin blockchain. But it doesn’t matter. Inspired by it, it has given birth to two technical projects that have a great impact on the development of encryption art: Counterparty and Etay Fong.

Internet Meme– the first impact of Network Culture on Block chain.
It is estimated that this is the first time that many Chinese people have seen the word meme, and it seems impossible to translate it succinctly in Chinese. To put it simply, meme generally refers to things that have been widely spread on the Internet in a short period of time and suddenly become popular on the Internet. The jokes we are familiar with, memes and the “famous scene” rumored by bilibili are all one of the meme.

Meme often comes with its own entertainment attributes, and it comes and goes quickly. But it comes fiercely, and if it is compared to an infectious disease, then I am afraid its “basic number of infections” will be excruciatingly high.

This firewood dog is a household name. It is called doge, in English and it is called God annoying Dog in Chinese. In fact, a picture of the firewood dog appeared in February 2010 and was circulated online until mid-13. But what really made it popular was a hilarious “pop bar” incident.

First of all, let’s talk about the initiator of this “explosion”: 4chan. This is a magical website, and Doge, Fantasy and Pei Pei Frog all have their share of credit on the road to fame. One night in August 2013, perhaps with too much free time, a group of users from 4chan raided the Murica section of the famous foreign post bar Reddit. They brushed out the section with various pictures of the dog’s head, and showed great perseverance in the raid until noon the next day.

According to Google Trends, the popularity of Doge searches continued to soar in the coming months after the “pop bar”.

So Doge became so popular that Youtube, the world’s largest video website, made a colored egg for it.

The bitcoin market happened to be in the second bull market that year, and the price of bitcoin rose from more than a dozen dollars at the beginning of 13 to more than 1100 dollars in November, driving the currency circle crazy. During this period, there are an endless stream of counterfeit coins in the currency circle, and everyone wants to send a coin on their own. in case of fire, will they not have food and clothing for the rest of their lives?

Jackson Palmer, who worked for Adobe at that time, was very concerned about cryptocurrencies and found that there were a large number of counterfeit coins in the currency circle. So one night after work, he bought the domain name of Dogecoin.com and put a Logo on the website.

He also joked on Twitter: “invest in dog money, its cliff will be the next big event.” “

Unexpectedly, the joke came true, and Billy Markus, a software engineer at IBM, contacted him. The two hit it off and dug up the creation block of the dog coin on December 6.

The dog coin, once one of the top 10 cryptocurrencies by market capitalization, exceeded $2 billion in market capitalization at the beginning of 2018.

The dog coin once ranked among the top 10 in the market capitalization of the encrypted currency.

This is the first impact of online culture on the currency circle. 13 years of blockchain technology is not mature enough, so this impact is mainly reflected in the market capitalization. Apart from the interesting story, there is no game worth mentioning. However, as the title of this paragraph implies, there will be a second shock in the future. After the blockchain technology has developed to a certain extent, what is the different chemical reaction between blockchain technology and network culture? We’ll talk later.

Cryptoart– the Marriage of Paper Wallet and Art.
Although the blockchain technology at that time was not mature enough, the attempt to connect works of art with blockchain never stopped.

One day, Troy Fearnow, who has more than a decade of art dealership experience, suddenly came up with an idea when printing paper wallets: it would be interesting to combine paper wallets with physical works of art. In early 2014, he devoted himself full-time to the realization of this idea.

In March, he launched a website, cryptoart.com, which specializes in selling art combined with paper wallets.

Early paper wallet works of art.

There is a QR code in the lower left corner of the front of the art painting, which is the public key of the paper wallet. Users only need to scan the QR code to transfer money to the paper wallet. The private key of the wallet is hidden on the back of the painting.

Each painting is designed by an artist, assembled by hand and sold in a limited edition. Advanced users can also change the address of their wallet without harming the painting.

It is not difficult to see that, in the eyes of Troy Fearnow, art is the carrier for storing cryptocurrency.

We brought this idea to the background of the time: before Ethernet Square was born,; Troy Fearnow began to plan for it, and Counterparty was not online. Under the condition that the scalability of the blockchain is restricted, linking works of art to cryptocurrencies in this way may be the best way to land. Coupled with his years of experience in art distribution, it is only natural for him to try this kind of thing.

From the interview given by Troy Fearnow that year, we can see that he placed several expectations on Cryptoart’s products:

Protect encrypted currency from hackers.
Create collectibles that can store, trade and receive cryptocurrencies.
Arouse a wider discussion in the currency circle.
Let’s roughly comment on it one by one:

Anti-hacker is the meaning of paper wallet, not the privilege of paper wallet + works of art.
Only curious users and enthusiasts will buy it. A painting costs at least a few hundred yuan, which is not cheap.
It is true that Cryptoart has been reported by a lot of media, but the project lacks the space to tell stories.
The current price of paper wallet art ranges from $50 to $1100.

On the other hand, although Cryptoart only combines paper wallets with paintings, this is probably the first time that serious works of art have been indirectly combined with blockchain, which is a big step forward.

Spells of Genesis-the first blockchain game.
Many people know that blockchain games were played during the Cat Fire in 2017-18. However, the first online game was born as early as 2015, with a bitcoin blockchain. Are you surprised? are you surprised?

The game’s development team first developed a card game called Moonga in 2008. The game is a bit of a success, and according to Bitcoin.com ‘s 16-year report, it has been downloaded more than 250,000 times. It is also said to have ranked first in the RPG game category of App Store in Japan.

Bitcoin.com ‘s report on it in 2016.

Gradually, the development team found that someone was using Paypal to trade cards in the game. But this kind of trading puts many people at risk of being cheated. So the development team thought that developing a card market for the game seemed to be the perfect solution. At the same time, they are inspired by the decentralized spirit of blockchain, believing in the vision that blockchain can return ownership of game assets to players.

In early 2014, a project called Counterparty was launched. It has been mentioned twice in the previous article, and it not only brought Colored Coin’s ideas to the ground quickly, but also did a good job. Counterparty performs functions that ordinary bitcoin software cannot do by writing information in the blank space of bitcoin transactions. For example, let users issue and trade tokens, write digital protocols or smart contract programs, and execute them on the bitcoin blockchain.

With the advent of Counterparty, Moonga’s game development team sees a broad road to the vision. So they decided: we want to make a card winding game! This game is called Spells of Genesis ((hereinafter referred to as SoG). They released SoG’s Pre-Alpha video at the end of October 14 and implemented card winding in the game Moonga in the first half of 15, which can be used in both games.

SoG official announcement.

Since cards are to be wound up, a distinction must be made between different cards. At that time, the method was to distinguish between a card and a token.

In a strict sense, the first game to wind up is actually Moonga. In the end, SoG looks like the next version of Moonga:, both of which are card games; the winding cards can be used in both games; and the development team has been promoting on Moonga’s social media that SoG;Moonga stopped updating in 2018 as if it had finally completed its mission of user transition. But the blockchain media at that time trumpeted that SoG was the first blockchain game, and no one cared about these details.

SoG’s development team, as the founder of chain games, is faced with a headache for countless newcomers: many gamers don’t know blockchain, so how can these players get started playing games without knowing blockchain knowledge? Their solution is to combine up and unwound cards with familiar gaming systems for veteran players, and play with unlinked cards first, and then learn about blockchain knowledge when you really want to own them-which is the solution strategy of today’s SkyWeaver chain game. Not only that, SoG sold the game token BitCrystals in August 15, putting the game economy on the chain.

Some people say that SoG cards are works of art. I have reservations about this. In short, people in the circle only regard SoG as a pioneer in the linking of virtual assets, and Rare Pepe Wallet is the pioneer in the art of encryption in their minds.

Rare Pepe Wallet– the Pioneer of encryption Art.
Those who become important events are more likely to conform to the trend. So what did Rare Pepe Wallet do? Most readers should have guessed the answer: Meme-Pepe The Frog (Popper Frog).

In 2005, this extremely ugly frog appeared in Mett Furie’s cartoon “Boy’s Club”. In 2008, Pepe was photographed by 4chan, the most important person in his life, and spread on 4chan as a response emoji package.

What is a response meme? Take a look at the following GIF diagram that was commonly used in China a few years ago.

But how can only one reaction be enough? So from 2009, people joined the creation of Pepe emojis to make it richer and richer.

On October 25, 2014, Pepe The Frog was launched on Reddit.

In the same month, people on 4chain were busy again and began to call some original and PS Pepe “Rare Pepe”, and some pictures put watermarks on it to prove its rarity. And watermarking shows that its rarity can not be guaranteed, revealing the needs and helplessness of the picture creators.

Watermark: rare frog, please do not save.

In November 2014, Pepe became so influential that famous singers Katy Perry and Nicki Minaj both used Pepe emojis on their social media.

In March 2015, another more idle netizen posted a theme post claiming that he would hoard all kinds of Rare Pepe pictures here, increase market supply and devalue Rare Pepe.

At the end of March, some netizens shared more than 1200 Rare Pepe pictures stored on Imgur. Then, in early April, the images were put up for auction on eBay. I don’t know whether someone is really interested or trying to make a joke, the highest bid for the auction reached 99166 US dollars, and then the auction was taken off the shelves by eBay.

Although it looks like a farce staged by a group of extremely bored people. But since then, the Google search popularity of “Rare Pepe” has exploded.

One day, a foreign friend named Joe Looney saw in the Counterparty Telegraph group that someone posted a picture of Pepe, saying that he was selling Pepe,. Does anyone want it? As a result, all the people who were chatting in the group said, “Oh great, I want it.” It is also a coincidence that, Joe Looney just developed a web version of Counterparty wallet not long ago, and this conversation showed him the direction of wallet development.

The price of Bitcoin rose to about $600 in September 2016, up from less than $200 in January of 15. That’s when Joe Looney and his friends launched Rare Pepe Wallet. People can submit, trade and give away Pepe images here. All approved images are uploaded with the help of Counterparty. Each Pepe has its own number of releases to ensure its scarcity.

Not all images will be included, and users should follow the following nine rules when submitting a new Pepe. In addition, Rare Pepe Wallet has experts who check the rarity of the new Pepe.

All included Pepe will be recorded in the Pepe dictionary.

Most of the early Pepe were designed as cards with rough workmanship. Later Pepe no longer adhered to this style and was designed to be more elaborate.

Early Rare Pepe.

Later Rare Pepe

Some Rare Pepe is special and comes with some extra content. For example: DJPEPE, only the owner of the card has access to the SoundCloud link.


PEPEBALT, can play with Mini Game.


The second impact of network culture on the blockchain is the story that the rarity of Rare Pepe has changed from empty talk to reality.

There are a few tidbits about the story. DappReview used to write a special article, “that’s right!” Your cool cat in CryptoKitties has been upgraded to pirate meow! The article introduced the asset reuse of blockchain games (using the assets of game B in game A).

The Rare Pepe community has long thought about this game-they planned to develop a card fighting game called Rape Pepe Party, which could use Rare Pepe’s assets. But the embarrassing thing is that this game has not been developed for so many years.

Chat transcript of RarePepeParty Telegraph Group on May 1, 2020.

I almost forgot to mention, do you know how much the most expensive Rare Pepe is worth? In January 2018, just after the peak of the third Bitcoin bull market, (Rare Digital Art Festival), a rare digital art festival, was held in New York. In this event, “Homer Pepe”, created by combining well-known American animation characters Homer Simpson and Pepe, was sold at auction for $39000.

I believe the first reaction of many people is: can this also sell for $39000?

Don’t worry, we might as well listen to the story of the star card first. People who like to watch football when they are young should know the existence of star cards. Students who don’t know the star card also know that the old raccoon simply sent a small card. In foreign countries, these collection cards are called Trading Card (transaction cards, and star cards are only one of the sports theme Trading Card. As a matter of fact, Trading Card is free of charge at first, just like the card given to you by noodles.

Trading Card has a history of more than 100 years abroad. As early as 1875, the Allen&Ginter Tobacco Company of the United States issued actresses, athletes, flags, wildlife and other cards to promote its brand. At this time, the card is also known as Cigarette card (cigarette card). At the beginning of the 20th century, many foreigners and national capitalists set up cigarette companies in China, and also used the propaganda method of giving away cigarette cards, but it was called smoke painting in China.

Smoke paintings in old Shanghai.

From the mid-19th century to the mid-20th century, sports such as baseball, basketball, football and rugby gradually became professional. This makes the stars emerge as the times require, and, Trading Card is also linked to the fan economy.

Left: Honus Wagner baseball star card issued in 1909, sold for $2.8 million in 2007, right: LeBron James signed jersey card, sold for more than $300,000 in 2016.

Although no specific figures are available, there should be at least a billion-dollar market for sports trading cards alone. After so many years of development, Trading Card has become the usual mode of fan economy. For example: on the famous Steam game platform, many games have an electronic version of Trading Card, and can be traded on the market.

Trading Card of Paradise Disco and Monster Hunter World Games.

There is no doubt that this universal Trading Card culture has helped him in the development of Rare Pepe. As mentioned earlier, most of the early Rare Pepe was designed to be in the style of cards, indicating that in people’s understanding at that time, it was worth collecting and hype to regard Rare Pepe as a kind of Trading Card,.

Some people think that these Pepe are simple graffiti, some people say that this is art, so is Rare Pepe art or not?

Baidu encyclopedia and Wikipedia can give an explanation of the noun of art, but not the judgment standard of art. Even works that are expensive in the art world will make many people who don’t know about art think, “I can do it.”

Color Mona Lisa (left), Elvis Triple Shadow (right)-Andy Warhol.

Artist Marcel Duchamp submitted a signed urinal named “Fountain” to the Independent artists Association Exhibition in 1917. But the council thought it was not art and refused to display it. This matter aroused widespread discussion at that time, and the Fountain became a highly controversial work.


Many people will think this work is ridiculous, and that’s why Fountain was created. It is used to satirize the phenomenon that artists’ works in the past pay too much attention to form while ignoring the connotation of the works. This idea is gradually accepted by the art world, and many works of art no longer exist with such a high attitude, narrowing the gap between the appreciator and the work of art.

“the so-called imaginary reality means that everyone believes in something, and as long as this common belief exists, it is powerful enough to influence the world. A brief History of Human beings.

Now, Duchamp is regarded as the ancestor of modern art, and the Fountain is also regarded as the work that opened the modern art.

So whether Rare Pepe is art, or which Rare Pepe is art, or leave it to you to judge.

As Duchamp’s story shows, the historical status of a thing must be evaluated by the later generations. Rare Pepe Wallet has two points that are most recognized by cryptographic art circles later:

Let the virtual work combine with the block chain to ensure its rarity and ownership, and then guarantee its price and the rights and interests of the author, and solve the pain of the virtual work.
A community has been established that can freely create and trade works. Allowing the community to create freely means Rare Pepe Wallet’s tolerant attitude and provides a good creative atmosphere for the community. This is what SoG can’t do as a card game.

A brief talk on the History of encryption Art you don’t know (2) Forecast.
Under the necessity of the alternation of currency prices and the development of technology, accidental ideas and hot spots collided with the block chain, and it took many years to become a circle of encryption art.

, Rare Pepe Wallet was born on the road of a bull market in 2016, and the end of 2017 was the peak of the third bull market of bitcoin. In the face of the road to blockchain art that has been opened by Rare Pepe Wallet, who can take advantage of currency prices and forerunners at this good time? How did the circle of encrypted art grow? How much impact has the development of blockchain technology had on the circle? Let’s talk about it in the second article.

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