The Americana bow platform is opening its doors wider, but still safe.
The company, which started last year as a community-specific project, has evolved into a one-stop shop designed to offer the convenience of an online marketplace, the security of a physical vault, and owner authentication via blockchain.
Americana is backed by OpenSea and 776, the venture capital firm headed by Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian. It is led by CEO Jake Frey, whose digital design studio Frey Labs has previously worked with Apple, Snapchat, Shopify and Twitter.
While banks and art conservatories and the like have been storing valuables since the nineteenth century, such items are generally not immediately accessible for display or purchase. Americana aims to change that.
“We’re a team of collectors ourselves, so we’re solving our own problems, talking to our community to find pain points and build solutions,” Frey said. decode.
Americana allows securely stored physical assets to be exposed, shared and traded digitally. Listed items are backed by an on-chain digital certificate, so they can be transacted through their tokenized counterparts without (necessarily) leaving the physical object.
The platform has the capacity to house a wide range of collectibles, including vintage cars, limited edition sneakers and fine art. According to Frey, “items can be as large and heavy as a vehicle, but also as small and light as a stamp.”
The process begins with a consultation where the team develops a custom-made pickup plan in partnership with shipping experts. Upon receipt, assets are authenticated, digitized and documented before being securely stored.
Authentication mechanisms vary depending on the item, with some pre-authenticated by third parties or directly through their creators.
When it comes to the artwork, Americana uses a micron indenter – a type of digital fingerprint technology. “It reads the level of molecules in a specific area of a work as a signature,” he said. “We take a series of those readings and score them against each other.”
After verification, Frey explained, the parts are digitized via a giant 3D photogrammetric machine with eight cameras that take very high-resolution, 360-degree images. When viewed on the platform interface, “it’s as close to being there with the part as the technology allows,” he said.
“You can click, drag, and zoom in on product pages online of articles and rotate them in any direction,” added Frey.
Finally, the digital title of the item is created as a non-fungible token (NFT) secured on the Ethereum blockchain. In addition to serving as a proof of authenticity, providing provenance and digital scans, the title also includes an insurance policy.
When it comes to live dance artists, secondary market creator royalties are also written into the smart contracts.
Frey said the company works with established storage experts, including Crozier Fine Arts, whose storage facilities have strict climate and temperature controls.
The concept of custodial ownership has grown in popularity over the past year with platforms including StockX and Ebay offering earth-supported storage in climate-controlled vaults for physical collectibles, including sneakers and trading cards.
Americana is currently stocking artworks from the likes of Dustin Yellan and Tom Sachs along with Rolex watches and jewelry, including a Gucci and Yuga Labs collaboration for cufflinks worn by lead investor Ohanian at this year’s MET Gala. He also holds rare unopened Pokemon cards and even a Moto Guzzi motorcycle.
“It’s time to use blockchain with things that make sense to normal people,” Frey concluded.