Curio Cards

The Oldest Known Art NFTs on Ethereum

Overview and History

Curio Cards is an online art show and permanent gallery that launched on May 9, 2017. The goal of the project was to use a distributed network called Ethereum to create a new model for digital artwork ownership -- a model that allows for the sale and collection of unique digital artwork without taking a cut of the artist’s revenue. Today, it is the oldest known example on Ethereum of what is now called NFT Artwork (NFT = Non-Fungible Token) and features 30 unique proto-NFTs from 7 different artists.

Curio Cards behave like "digital prints", with each series of artwork being unique but containing multiple cards in that series. Curio Cards was referenced in the ERC-721 EIP, having been developed and released before the ERC-721 NFT standard was proposed. Curio Cards contains many features and concepts that were included in ERC-721 and other NFT standards, such as:

  • Non-fungible tokens (between the different card series, aka 'card number')

  • Non-divisible tokens with a limited supply (within each card series)

  • Purchasing initial cards directly from a smart contract

  • IPFS hash of the artwork embedded into the smart contract (without referencing any urls)

  • Ownership of a token representing ownership of publicly viewable digital artwork

The original cards still work and are transferable, however since they pre-date modern NFT standards they do not conform to those standards. Instead, Curio Cards are a heavily modified ERC-20 token. A wrapper was developed that lets users take their ERC-20 Curio Cards and "wrap" them inside an ERC-1155 token contract, for use on modern NFT marketplaces like OpenSea. ERC-1155 is a well supported and flexible modern NFT standard that maps closely with Curio's original design.

No new cards will ever be released. It was originally planned to open Curio Cards up for anyone to make new cards sets and collections, but modern contract standards offer a better choice for new artists. Learn more about how Curio Cards will evolve over time through the Governance process here.