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PENNIES FROM EBAY: THE DETERMINANTS OF PRICE IN ONLINE AUCTIONS

Authors


  • *Lucking-Reiley acknowledges the National Science Foundation for support under grants SBR-9811273 and SES-0094800. We thank Alex Shcherbakov, Mike Urbancic, David Caballero, Steven Manos and Steven Reeves for their research assistance. We wish to acknowledge the fact that we allowed this paper to languish for over five years before actually submitting it, so the delay in publication is entirely our own responsibility. We apologize for not reciprocally citing any of the many authors who have done fine research on this topic subsequent to our initial draft; we decided to publish a paper as close to the original draft as possible (although considerably shortened) for the historical record. This includes keeping the surname Lucking-Reiley, even though that author has subsequently changed his name to back to Reiley.

Abstract

This paper presents an exploratory analysis of the determinants of prices in online auctions for collectible United States one-cent coins at the eBay web site. Starting with an initial data set of 20,000 auctions, we perform regression analysis on a restricted sample of 461 coins for which we obtained estimates of book value. We have three major findings. First, a seller's feedback ratings, reported by other eBay users, have a measurable effect on her auction prices. Negative feedback ratings have a much greater effect than positive feedback ratings do. Second, minimum bids and reserve prices have positive effects on the final auction price. In particular, minimum bids appear only to have a significant effect when they are binding on a single bidder, as predicted by theory. Third, when a seller chooses to have her auction last for a longer period of days, this significantly increases the auction price on average.

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