How to Conduct Due Diligence on Vintage NFTs Like Twitter Eggs (CryptoEggs) and BlockHeads

Disclaimer: This is simply a guide for conducting research on NFTs. No financial advice is given — do your own research and understand what you are buying!

CryptoEggs (aka Twitter Eggs) and BlockHeads History

While most people believe that more high-profile Ethereum-based collections like CryptoPunks and EtherRock were the earliest NFTs, “blockchain archaeologists” have been hard at work going back and uncovering collections that pre-date CryptoPunks and EtherRocks by 3 years!

For some background, this is the most in-depth overview of the “vintage NFT”/digital antiquities market:

One collection that was recently re-discovered is called Twitter Eggs (aka Crypto Eggs), a limited set of 255 colored Twitter egg avatar NFTs that were minted on Namecoin in 2014–15.

Here’s another great overview thread shared on Twitter:

This purpose of this article is to share our experience conducting due diligence on these risky, but (potentially) very valuable NFTs. Again this is not financial advice; do your own research please!

Choosing an Egg

After joining the TwitterEggs Discord, we put in a WTB (“wanted to buy”) egg request and one of the admins reached out with current availability and prices. Due to demand, they had sold out of the least expensive eggs and only had rarer (and more expensive) eggs available (Orange, Neon, Light Blue, Dark Blue and Blue Eggs).

Our criteria for purchase (and asset valuation) was:

  • Date minted (older = better)
  • Rareness/color (fewer available)
  • Verified from a Twitter account (some Namecoin addresses used Facebook for verification)
  • Metadata never altered (the avatar image url has never been changed)
  • Budget, Risk/Reward assessment (comfort zone)

Verify an Asset’s Data on Namecoin Explorer

They offered to sell us an early orange egg (from 2014) and provided a link to view it on a Namecoin explorer:

Using Namebrow.se to view details about a Namecoin name

This allows you to see the entire history of name operations and when information has been updated or altered. What’s most important is identifying the date/time when the image metadata was first added (for TwitterEggs, there will be something resembling {…“avatar”: {“url”: “https://s3.amazonaws.com/kd4/mnukala"}} in the value field.

Verify Authenticity of NFT’s Hosted Media File

Next, we wanted to ensure that the original media hasn’t been tampered with since 2014. Today, most NFTs point to images/videos that themselves are hosted on distributed/blockchain-based filesystems like IPFS. However, in 2014 the Namecoin folks simply stuck the images in an Amazon S3 bucket.

Checking File Headers for Last-Modified Date

In order to confirm authenticity of the hosted media, we used a web-based curl-command tool like this one:

Web-based cURL utility to retrieve header information for a hosted file.

Looking at the Last-Modified header, this result shows the S3-hosted image file was last modified in September 2014, which aligns with the NAME_FIRSTUPDATE value stored on chain.

(If you are are more familiar with opening a terminal or running commands from the command line you can simply run $ curl -I https://s3.amazonaws.com/kd4/mnukala ).

Saving Proof of Provenance and Authenticity

Since S3 buckets are not permanent, there is no guarantee that the media or bucket will be modified or deleted in the future. In order to best “future proof” the NFT, you’ll want to make every effort to permanently archive any information about the NFT that can provide provenance:

WayBack Machine (Internet Archive)

Archive.org has been preserving content snapshots for 25 years and is a great resource for going back in time to see things like early versions of websites via WayBack Machine. They also offer a url submission tool where they will cache any url at a point in time:

Wayback Machine home page with Save Page Now section highlighted

Look for the “Save Page Now” section on the homepage — you’ll want to submit 2 urls:

  1. The result page using the web-based curl tool mentioned in the previous section

2. The avatar url in the asset metadata (hosted on S3)

Great, now there is some proof of the existence of the asset data and image. But why not store this archival information itself on a blockchain?

Arweave (Global, Permanent Chain-based Archive)

Arweave is a blockchain-based “distributed hard drive” that can permanently store any archival information. Storing data here takes just a few more steps:

  1. Press the “Claim a Token” button and follow the instructions to set up a wallet (they will credit you some tokens that will cover the fees needed to archive the urls).
  2. Install the Arweave Chrome Extension and add your wallet
Arweave wallet interface showing archived URL

After a few minutes, you will see a confirmation that the information has been written to Arweave. You can then view the transaction details on ViewBlock.

Should You Upgrade Your Links To Point Away From S3?

There is some discussion about the best way to preserve the media associated with each Twitter Egg and avoiding dead links. This post provides a thorough overview on how to move media to IPFS and update the Namecoin data.

We don’t yet know if making any modifications to metadata will impact an asset’s price in the future, so for now we are going to hold off altering any data.

Not So Fast… Is This Vintage NFT Truly “Unique”??

We had originally settled on an orange egg, but something about it seemed… off. The other eggs we checked out all had usernames that mapped to Twitter usernames, but this egg’s username was appended with “-1” and the Namebrow.se url used a different format (/i/username vs. /u/username)

We put in the username (without “-1”) in the Namebrow.se search and lo and behold we found there were two Namecoin accounts:

This shouldn’t be an issue, however when reviewing the metadata we realized that both /u/mnukala and /i/mnukala-1 pointed to the same avatar image!

On other NFT chains, when there are multiple mints that reference the same underlying asset/file they are viewed as being “x of n”, where x is the mint number based on minting timestamp and x is the total number of similar assets. In our opinion, these would be considered “1 of 2” and “2 of 2”.

For this reason, we ultimately decided to pass on this particular orange egg (but it’s yet to be seen how the market will account for/value these types of “non-unique” assets).

(What appears to have happened was this user first connected their Twitter account, then a few days later connected their Facebook account, resulting in the creation of a second Namecoin username — the “-1” at the end is a technique used to generate a new unique name when one is already in use, like when saving a file on your computer when one already exists with the same name.)

Finally Finding Our Egg

We were then presented with the opportunity to purchase a (more rare) dark blue egg. It checked off all of the boxes, including the fact that “dark blue” is actually Twitter’s first genesis egg color and was minted in August 2014.

Twitter’s original 13 egg colors. Source: https://twirpz.wordpress.com/2015/06/01/egg-timer-the-history-of-twitters-default-profile-pic/

It was priced significantly more than the orange egg, but we decided to proceed with the transaction and put down a deposit. We completed the transaction the next day, and are now the proud owners of a Dark Blue Twitter Egg! 🎉

Our Dark Blue Twitter Egg! One of only 11 known to exist.

Next Steps

In a few weeks these authentic Twitter Egg NFTs (look out for fakes!!) will be available for purchase on OpenSea by way of an innovative tool called EmblemVault that allows for cross-chain transactions by wrapping an entire wallet in a token.

Don’t forget to renew your Namecoin every 6 months or you risk losing your egg!

Happy Collecting! 🎉🚀

Further Reading:

The origin assets of the digital antiquities market (NFTs)

A brief history of NFT development: looking for “treasure” from these “hardcore” NFT projects

Links:

TwitterEggs Discord

CryptoEggs Twitter

CryptoEggs Sales Bot Twitter

EmblemVault

Hi! 👋

Check out token.art, our NFT portfolio view app (currently supports WAX collectibles but other blockchains being added soon!)

token.art: Twitter / Instagram

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