The Amazing Tale of Pepe: From Meme to Cryptocurrency

Anyone who has heard of the recent Pepe Coin bull run is either dancing in their insane profits or kicking themselves in the butt for not getting in sooner. The latest meme coin launched two weeks ago. Amazingly, it has already landed itself into the top 100 cryptocurrencies with a market capitalization of $540 million.

This development has pushed meme coin darlings Doge and Shiba Inu to the side. Perhaps it’s the novelty of something shiny and new. Or perhaps it is the culmination of 2 decades of cultural capital.

HODLWOOD from Mint Gold Dust Auction at NFT.NYC 2022

Who is Pepe the Frog?

Pepe the Frog is a cartoon character created by artist Matt Furie. He became one of the most well-known memes on the internet in the 2000s. The green frog wearing a mischievous expression became a symbol for internet subculture, referenced across a range of social platforms and forums including MySpace and 4chan.

After a hard turn to the alt right, Pepe took on new life when Rare Pepe scientists reclaimed the famous amphibian as a crypto degen. In 2016, artists mined the first Rare Pepe NFTs onto the Bitcoin protocol via Counterparty. And thus, another subculture was born and solidified on-chain.

Pepe means a lot of things to a lot of people, but as far as crypto goes, Pepe is as intrinsic to the culture of the space as a white paper is to a blockchain protocol.

Rare Pepe Pepeyotes
PEPEYOTES by Gus and Veto Grillasca from Mint Gold Dust Auction at ETH Denver 2022

What is a Rare Pepe?

Rare Pepes are digital trading cards depicting Pepe the Frog in various scenarios. Some combine Pepe with other icons of popular culture like Homer Simpson or Pokemon. Others feature Satoshi Nakamoto, Bitcoin, and other crypto-related symbols and references. The scarcity of these unique digital assets contributes to their value as well. Each Pepe card has specific qualities that one can see directly on the artwork. Artists can also decide how many editions of the artwork to mint.

Collectors traded these early NFTs on a Rare Pepe Wallet in exchange for Pepe Cash. Both the wallet and the cryptocurrency were developments from the Pepe market, or Pepesphere.

Soon, Rare Pepe NFTs attracted wider attention from the cryptocurrency community. Some artists began to create their own versions of Rare Pepes to trade amongst themselves. 

Rare Pepe Scientists wanted only verified artworks to be shared with their community on Telegram. This felt stifling to some artists, especially since the blockchain ethos included individual sovereignty. Pepe Scientist J Scrilla revolted, posting his unverified Rare Pepes until the community kicked him out. Scrilla then created his own Rare Pepe channel, and invited other artists to do the same.

The concept of a Fake Rare emerged, and naturally, the Fake Rares became a huge phenomenon all its own. Artists would post Fake Rares in the Pepe Scientist channel, get kicked out, and join Skrilla’s community of Fake Rares.

Pepe Cash

As interest in Rare Pepe NFTs grew, so did speculation about their future value, with some in the community even debating whether the assets could become a form of digital currency. In this context, the Pepe Cash coin was created as a cryptocurrency utilizing Pepe the Frog as its mascot. Pepe Cash runs on Counterparty and is required to transact Rare Pepes.

Pepe Cash has consistently been one of the most traded digital currencies on Counterparty. Plus, the value of Pepe Cash has increased significantly in recent years. Some attribute this growth to social media attention surrounding the Rare Pepe phenomenon.

Mint Gold Dust Founder and CEO Kelly LeValley Hunt hosting the Mint Gold Dust Auction at NFT.NYC 2022

Auctions on Mint Gold Dust

Mint Gold Dust has sold many Rare Pepes over the years. Most notably, they placed a $500,000 Rare Pepe Nakamoto Card with Metakovan at the NFT.NYC 2021 happy hour. He is also the buyer of Beeple’s, Everydays: The First 5000 Days.

Their live auctions at ETH Denver and NFT.NYC in 2022 featured even more Pepes. Artists included Gus Grillasca, Veto Grillasca, Mr. Hansel, J Scrilla, and several anonymous creators. Furthermore, Mint Gold Dust has featured Rare Pepes at every single live auction they’ve hosted since their inception.

The Rise of PEPE

PEPE coin, which is different from Pepe Cash, launched in mid-April, and has already risen like a green and grinning meteor. The price has been extremely volatile, and some are saying it’s arrived at a stage of correction. However, for the people who have already made hundreds of thousands of dollars on a meme, it illustrates an interesting shift in the crypto world. Many critics of NFTs say that they are made for speculative purposes and nothing more. This meme coin surge could actually direct speculators over to the altcoin market, leaving NFTs for more serious collectors. Or maybe not.

The connection between Pepe the Frog and the cryptocurrency world has ignited the imagination of collectors and traders alike. It has revealed the potential for memes to take on a life of their own in the digital world. Whether or not PEPE coin, Pepe Cash and Rare Pepe NFTs will continue to rise in value remains to be seen. But it is clear that Pepe the Frog has cemented its place in both internet culture and the world of digital assets.

Ready to get started as an artist or collector on Mint Gold Dust? Check out our Metamask start up guide to get started. Ready to start minting? Apply to talk with our curatorial team today.