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Many people believe (incorrectly) that Cryptopunks were the first NFTs on Ethereum [Etheria was, but that's another article].
They were the first 10k generative profile pictures to be created, having been released in 2017 as a free collectible to anyone who cared enough about NFTs at that time to acquire one.
Not long after the launch of Cryptopunks, another 10k generative project was released, in 2019, and up until 1.10.2022, the cryptoskulls did very little in the way of sales.
At the time, the tech enabling NFTs was far less advanced than what we have today, and the 10,000 pixel-art skulls got very little traction.
All 10,000 were manually minted by the developer and sold directly to collectors. In fact, many of the OG NFT community members considered them to be a sub-par project, or an attempted "copycat" of the now-famous cryptopunks.
To a few people, albeit mostly those of us who still refer to ourselves as 'trash artists', the skulls were an improvement to the cryptopunks. [bear in mind, that during the summer of 2020, a cryptopunk cost less than 1 eth, which at the time was around $400.
Not only are skulls a pop-culture staple, the devs authorized the use of the IP of any individual's owned skulls, which had never been done prior. In addition to the IP rights, the cryptoskulls creators implemented a bespoke rarity determination system, which they called the "uniqueness index" (there were no rarity explorers for NFTs yet) and were among the first NFTs from which the funds were planned to develop a play-to-earn game.
The depth of the project is actually quite incredible once explored, which we'll circle back to shortly, as to not derail the purpose of this article. Namely, I want to highlight the parabolic rise of the cryptoskulls in the second half of Jan 2022.
As has been seen in recent months with a number of historic NFT projects; a once "forgotten" project can become a hidden gem at a moment's notice, should the right social media "influencer" make a point to discuss it.
For nearly 2 years, the cryptoskulls averaged 0-2 sales per day, at prices less than the cost of the transaction fee required to complete the sale. Then, as if rising from the proverbial dead, the CryptoSkulls got their day in the sun... or rather, their day on the moon.
On Jan.10, 2022 , CryptoSkulls demolished the previous record for daily sales on OpenSea, with over 10,200 individual transactions occuring.
10,200+ sales, in a collection of 10,000 items; without considering the ~2000 still held by the project founder (which are planned to be committed to the CryptoSkulls DAO).
Over the course of the next several days, the floor price of CryptoSkulls rose to nearly 5 eth; before a significant correction followed by a market-wide price dip which led many people to take profits on the skulls they'd collected for around $30 a year before.
At the time of writing, the floor price of a cryptoskull is around 2 eth, depending on which platform you're browsing.
The highest sale to date has been hit twice, with 2 of the Skull Lords, 10 hand-drawn NFTs that share the #1 rarity rank on platforms that quantify the rarities, being sold for 100 ETH each (approximately 250,000 US dollars).
One such purchase was made by acclaimed entrepreneur and investor Gary Vaynerchuck; who is incredibly passionate about, and bullish on the future of the NFT industry.
While the rarity explorers we're all familiar with at this point are seen as the authority on ranking NFT collections, the CryptoSkulls will forever hold their own exclusive rarity scale, calculated by the NFT index and other lesser known aspects of the project.
At the risk of seemingly pumping my own bags (disclosure - I own approximately 25 cryptoskulls, most of which I'd acquired sporadically over the past 2 years), it seems that very few people have taken the time to DYOR on this OG NFT project.
For example, 10% of the collection, or 1000 total skulls are classified as "game tokens", with the original intent being that these NFTs would be sold at a premium, with the revenue being utilized to develop the cryptoskulls game.
In return, these items would be more powerful or have exclusive benefits within the completed game.
There is also minor awareness of the fact that the project founder is not only still actively maintaining the community, but has been consistently working on the game's development since the project launched.
With the recent hockey-stick pattern of sales, the royalties alone have produced millions of dollars in capital, and the game is well on its way to an initial public release.
As a part of the game, Gold of Skulls, there will apparently be a play-to-earn mechanic, revolving around the $GSK ERC-20 token.
If you hodl cryptoskulls, you may be able to claim a stipend of the token from the game's website.
But that isn't the only under-realized benefit of cryptoskulls.
In fact, it's likely that this will, for most people, be the first time hearing of this feature. And potentially it might be the first time hearing about the innovative token-mining system implemented by Chain Guardians; another blockchain gaming project; which extends through a wide ecosystem of projects and partnerships.
Cryptoskulls, as well as assets from a number of additional NFT projects, can be utilized to mine the Chain Guardians governance token, $CGG.
Each skull has an assigned hash rate when used to mine, and users can either join a mining pool, or mine on their own, all without the active assets leaving their own wallet.
Overall, it's the author's personal opinion that the CryptoSkulls NFT collection is undoubtedly one of the most innovative projects in the space. Even moreso when considering the state of the NFT market in 2019, when the project was first launched.
This opinion is supported by the fact that on more than one occasion, NFT collectors have sold CryptoPunks, Bored Apes, and Mutant Apes solely in the interest of having liquidity to accumulate more skulls.
Keep an eye out for an upcoming NFThub child-project leveraging the right to utilize the cryptoskulls IP for any skulls owned by an individual or entity. All in all, it's safe to say that the CryptoSkulls are long overdue for blue-chip status... ahem. DANK RARES status, and that the general community sentiment seems to be that we're all quite skullish.
Also published here.