Rare Pepes Explained

Before we get started I want to give a huge shoutout to ALM for putting this project on my radar.

In this article you'll learn:

  • - What Rare Pepes are

  • - How to value them

  • - Different ways to buy them

  • - Paper Ape's future outlook

Who is Pepe?

If you've been on the internet before you probably recognize this frog:

Pepe the Frog is a character created by Matt Furie in 2005 with the intention of being used in his comic, Boy's Club. Pepe had his breakout moment in the comic below which went viral, eventually leading him to become one of the earliest and most well-recognized internet memes.

Long story short the meme grew much bigger than expected. It got to the point where Pepe memes were being posted by mainstream celebrities. Pepe was hijacked by 4chan eventually leading the ADL to declare him as an official hate symbol. And amidst all this chaos Pepe also landed on the Bitcoin blockchain in 2016.

If you want to hear the full story I highly recommend checking out this video that hits all the important points in the history of Pepe (and Rare Pepes).

What are Rare Pepes?

With one of the most fascinating backgrounds in NFT history, Rare Pepes are to Bitcoin what CryptoPunks are to Ethereum. One cannot tell the full story of crypto art without mentioning Rare Pepes because everything we do today as NFT degens can be traced back this single community. Rare Pepes are the OG blockchain collectibles.

The collection launched in 2016 and is famous for being the first crypto art collection on Bitcoin. Not only this, Rare Pepe is also the first collection to have community "governance" in the creation process.

  • - There was a list of guidelines to follow in order to submit memes

  • - Submitted memes were voted on by "Rare Pepe scientists"

  • - Approved memes became the Rare Pepe cards we see today

Each card has a unique backstory (who created it, what inspired it, inside jokes, etc.) which creates a bunch of individual rabbit holes inside a collection that is already a giant rabbit hole in and of itself.

It wasn't long after diving into the Rare Pepe ecosystem that I found myself immersed in early crypto culture. It's worth mentioning the project's creation was during the 2016 crypto bear market in which there was seemingly no end in sight. Everyone from the original community was unified by their love of crypto and memes.

The full history of Rare Pepes is best told from one of its original community members/artists, Rare Scrilla. Here's a rare 1-hour podcast (uploaded in 2017 and just hit 1k views) of him explaining the project's story.

Rare Pepe stats

  • - 1774 unique digital trading cards

  • - Supply varies for each card

  • - Bell curve falls around 100-300 issues per card

  • - Only 7 1/1 cards

  • - Cards were released in 36 series

  • - Series 1-10: 2016

  • - Series 11-30: 2017

  • - Series 31-36: 2018

How to value Rare Pepes

There are a number of factors that go into determining the value of a Rare Pepe. The general rule of thumb is based on the 3 criteria below:

  1. 1. Age (date issued)

  2. 2. Supply (number of cards issued)

  3. 3. Memetic power

As far as age goes, the older the card is the more it's worth. 2016 is the best, 2017 is good, 2018 is valued least.

Supply is pretty straightforward too. Cards with a lower supply usually cost more than ones with high supply unless memetic power is in play.

Memetic power is more subjective than the other 2 categories but can be made clear by jumping into the community and learning about what they find funny or valuable. Cards with special backstories are valued higher in the community - most notably Homer Pepe which sold for $39k at a 2018 auction, establishing crypto art as a legitimate way for artists to make money.

How to buy Rare Pepes

There are a few different ways to buy a Rare Pepe and it all depends on where the seller listed it and what currency it's listed for.


DO NOT purchase Rare Pepes using Coinbase, CashApp, or any other exchange wallet because you will lose your money and the NFT will be lost forever. Exchange wallets do not support NFTs. If you don't want to use RarePepeWallet the next best option is FreeWallet.

I use both wallets and they work great. FreeWallet makes acquiring XCP very easy because it has built-in interface to access XCP dispensers.

Now that that's out of the way I'll summarize the processes from easiest to most difficult.

The general starting steps are:

  1. 1. Generate a wallet on rarepepewallet.com

  2. 2. Save your seed phrase

  3. 3. Send Bitcoin to the wallet

  4. 4. Use pepe.wtf to search for a Pepe to purchase

Once you find which Rare Pepe you want to buy, look to see whether it is for sale in Bitcoin or XCP. Bitcoin is the easier of these two options. We'll cover XCP in a little bit.

Next check to see whether the sale type is listed as Dispenser or Sale.

Purchase option #1 (easiest): BTC dispensers

Dispensers are the easiest of these two options. Navigating to a dispenser will bring up a web page with a QR code and other information associated with what it contains.

All you have to do is:

  1. 1. Send the required amount of BTC to the QR address

  2. 2. Wait until the transaction is confirmed. Once confirmed, the dispenser will automatically send the Rare Pepe to the wallet it received Bitcoin from.

Purchase option #2 (easy): BTC marketplace

If the type is listed as Sale, this means you have to purchase the NFT from a marketplace. If the Pepe you want to buy is listed as Sale and the currency is Bitcoin, the marketplace you will use is Scarce.City.

Scarce City is comparable to OpenSea but for Bitcoin NFTs. Buying an NFT from SC works the exact same way as using a Dispenser, however it can take up to 24 hours for you to receive the purchased asset.

Counterparty $XCP

Counterparty is a side-chain of Bitcoin that supports smart contracts and tradeable user-created coins. Rare Pepes actually exist on Counterparty rather than Bitcoin since the latter doesn't have smart contract capabilities.

Counterparty is pretty much a clunkier version of Ethereum that has Bitcoin's transaction time and scalability.

$XCP is the native token of Counterparty and can be used to purchase assets on its chain.

In order to get XCP you will need to send BTC to an XCP dispenser at https://xchain.io/dispensers. Then, just like other dispensers, it will send XCP to the wallet it received BTC from.

Rare Pepe Wallet

Rare Pepe Wallet was created by early crypto pioneer, Joe Looney. RPW launched a week after the first Rare Pepe was created because before then nobody had created a way for people to see the images associated with these tokens they owned.

Rare Pepe Wallet is a marketplace with a built-in wallet where users can buy, sell, and gift Rare Pepes. RPW was truly ahead of its time and has remained relatively unchanged since 2016.

Rare Pepe Wallet supports 3 tokens:

  • - Bitcoin

  • - XCP

  • - Pepe Cash

Purchase option #3: RarePepeWallet

If a card is listed for XCP + Sale, your best bet is using RarePepeWallet. You will also need some BTC in the wallet to pay transaction fees.

Once your method of payment has been selected, an orderbook will appear with the buy orders, sell orders, and trade history of that specific card.

From this point forward, the process works just like a dispenser:

  1. 1. Choose the order you want to fulfill

  2. 2. Send the necessary amount of XCP/PepeCash

  3. 3. Wait until the transaction is confirmed to receive the NFT

There are at least 2 other purchase options however they're much more intricate so I'll save them for a YouTube video that I plan on making soon.

Fake Rares

Fake Rare is a term used to describe cards that were created after the original Rare Pepe collection stopped issuing new cards. Any asset created on XCP that is not approved by the Rare Pepe scientists is considered a fake rare. They are an homage to Rare Pepes and have been picking up momentum on Twitter thanks to new curated drops from established crypto artists.

Fake Rare stats

  • - Uncapped # of cards

  • - Supply varies for each card

  • - Current series: 8


Paper Ape's Analysis

Disclaimer: I own 13 cards

This is one of the higher conviction plays I've made this year. I get starry eyes just thinking about the possibility of owning some of the rarest NFTs in existence. I'd be lying if I said I hadn't thought about trading my ape for the original Rare Pepe, the Nakamoto Card.

As someone who's spent a majority of the past few years immersed in NFTs, I do not know how it took Bitcoin NFTs this long to hit my radar.

Guess I'm an ETH maxi after all, or... was.

The honest truth is that it's much harder for the average person to buy NFTs on Bitcoin as compared to Ethereum, Solana, or any of these other new blockchains. I think this keeps a lot of people away from looking into Bitcoin NFTs in the first place. The UI feels like it has never been updated and the UX is horrendous as sometimes it can take up to an hour for a transaction to go through.

It takes true commitment from a knowledge standpoint just to buy a Rare Pepe and this has undoubtedly been the reason it's taken the collection so long to catch on. This makes Rare Pepes the most "punk" NFT collection in my perspective. Only people who have proven themselves as true ninjas of the blockchain are able to purchase these cards.

The NFT community on Bitcoin is much smaller than Ethereum. Bitcoin NFTs seem relatively untapped compared to Ethereum's cluttered ecosystem of projects - making it a ripe with opportunity.

Although the knowledge barrier exists, as time goes on more tools are being developed to make Bitcoin NFTs more accessible to the greater NFT community.

The introduction of Emblem Vault has played a key role in Rare Pepes reaching a wider audience. Emblem Vault allows collectors to lock up their Bitcoin NFT in Emblem Vault and receive a wrapped version of it on Ethereum. This has given Rare Pepe owners the opportunity to move their assets over to Ethereum, where the majority of NFT collectors are.

I expect Emblem Vault to be a massive catalyst for increased exposure of Rare Pepes to Ethereum's NFT community, especially if it begins climbing the ranks on OpenSea.

Another reason I can see a new wave of entrants into the Rare Pepe community is their focus on curating Fake Rares by some of today's most popular NFT Twitter artists and personalities.

The newest series of curated Fake Rares was constructed by VincentVanDough (150k followers) and included works from popular artists like Deekay (180k followers), Killeracid (34.2k followers), Grant Yun (17.7k followers) and many more.

To me, it's inevitable that this new wave of Fake Rare collectors will follow the clues leading them to the rarest cards of of all, Rare Pepes.

The continued promotion & expansion of Fake Rares will be an integral part of Rare Pepes breaking into the NFT mainstream.

I think once people start building things around Pepe Cards (both Rares & Fakes) it'll really get people paying attention.

It's a lot of dots to connect but I see this investment less as an "if" and more like a "when". The tradeoff for this near-guaranteed (NFA) trade is likely going to be a long time horizon. If I had to guess I'd say this looks like a multi-year play but I think as web3 begins to infiltrate and disrupt industries of the past, people will shift their focus to where it all started. If this is true, all roads lead to Rare Pepes.

Historical NFTs are beyond a fad and cannot be replicated by any other project. They are quite literally the oldest pieces of the blockchain that can anyone can ever own. As the use of blockchain technology spreads, I can only see this bet becoming a stronger store of value.

How much would you pay to own a piece of technological history?