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Is This Ethereum’s Oldest NFT Project? Collectors Pile Into Early Domain Name App

Over 450,000 Linagee Name Registrar NFTs have been registered since the project’s smart contract was unearthed last week.

Is This Ethereum’s Oldest NFT Project? Collectors Pile Into Early Domain Name App
Shutterstock cover by Vasilyev Alexandr

Key Takeaways

  • An early Ethereum project called Linagee Name Registrar has sparked a frenzy in the NFT community over the past few days.
  • The project lets Ethereum users mint their own domain name NFTs, similar to other applications like Ethereum Name Service.
  • NFT archaeologist Leonidas exposed LNR as the "oldest" Ethereum NFT project last week, but some have refuted his claims.

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The Linagee Name Registrar smart contract was deployed on the Ethereum blockchain on August 8, 2015, years before NFTs went mainstream. 

Linagee Name Registrar NFTs Unearthed 

Move over Ethereum Name Service, because a new (old) NFT domain name service is fast becoming a big hit in the crypto community. 

An early domain name service called Linagee Name Registrar was uncovered by Ethereum developer Mason Keretsy last week and has since hit 450,000 NFT domain name registrations, per Dune data compiled by @darki. The project lets Ethereum users mint their own NFT with the suffix “.og” to replace their 0x Ethereum address, similar to readable website URLs and ENS’ popular “.eth” domain names. It costs about $1 to mint an LNR NFT, and unlike ENS, owners can keep the domain name forever rather than renting it for a set period. 

A pseudonymous developer known as linagee deployed the smart contract for LNR on Ethereum early in the blockchain’s lifetime on August 8, 2015. LNR’s early provenance is the main reason the project has soared over the past few days, with the help of the self-styled “NFT historian” Leonidas. The prominent collector posted a tweet storm about LNR on September 30, hinting that it was “potentially the oldest” NFT project on Ethereum. He also hosted a Twitter Spaces call titled “Oldest NFT on Ethereum Just Rediscovered,” attracting more than 6,400 listeners. However, some Ethereum natives have refuted the claim that LNR was the first NFT project, saying that Ethereum Foundation members minted other tokens that could be described as NFTs soon after the blockchain launched. 

Ethereum Archaeology 

Leonidas and other digital archaeologists have flocked to early Ethereum NFT projects like LNR since the technology exploded in popularity in 2021. Avid collectors argue that there will only ever be a limited number of early NFTs and they will therefore be considered more valuable than more recent projects that emerged in 2021 or later. Domain name services have proven popular due to the same supply and demand principles; over the past year, common keywords and numbered ENS domains have skyrocketed in value. Low digit numbers tend to command the highest value; 000.eth, for example, sold for 300 ETH in July 2022. 

Of the 450,000 LNR domain names registered, many of them are also numbered domain names, with lower-digit domains proving the most popular. OpenSea data shows that multiple three-digit domains have sold for upwards of 2 ETH over the past few days. 

Pump & Dump? 

While still a niche project outside of the Ethereum archaeology scene, LNR has caused significant hype amid otherwise bearish market conditions. According to Etherscan data, the LNR contract currently accounts for over 10% of all gas usage on Ethereum, placing it alongside the likes of Uniswap and OpenSea. 

It’s unclear whether the interest in LNR will last, but it’s worth noting that Leonidas and other NFT archaeologists have got behind many similar early projects in the past. In many cases, projects have soared after Leonidas posted endorsements to his Twitter followers then faded into obscurity. Leonidas helped the 2019 avatar NFT project CryptoSkulls soar to a floor price of over 3 ETH in January after promoting it to his audience; today the entry fee is closer to 0.4 ETH, up since Leonidas showed support but significantly down from the peak in ETH and dollar terms. 

While Leonidas has been accused of so-called “pump and dump” antics in the past, he maintains that he had good intentions when he shone a light on the project. Among the multiple tweets he’s posted about LNR since September 30, he said that he had only minted 32 domain names and had no plans to sell. “I am in this because the history is cool,” he wrote, adding that he wanted to see “a fair distribution.” 

Dune data compiled by @darki shows that 21,795 wallets had minted LNR domain names at press time. The top holder has registered over 9,000 domain names in just over a day. 

Disclosure: At the time of writing, the author of this piece owned ETH, some ENS domain names, and several other fungible and non-fungible cryptocurrencies. 

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