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Pennies from eBay: the Determinants of Price in Online Auctions


  • Doug Bryan

    (Andersen Consulting)

  • David Lucking-Reiley

    (Vanderbilt University)

  • Naghi Prasad

    (Andersen Consulting)

  • Daniel Reeves

    (University of Michigan)


This paper presents an exploratory analysis of the determinants of prices in online auctions for collectible one-cent coins at the eBay Web site. Our initial data set consists of over 20,000 auctions which took place during July and August 1999, and was collected automaticaaly by a "spider" program. From this large data set, we provide a number of descriptive statistics on the patterns in eBay data. We then perform detailed analysis on a restricted sample of 461 mint-condition Indian-head pennies, for which we were able to obtain accurate estimates of book value from a coin-collector's Web site. 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 that positive feedback ratings do. Second, minimum bids and reserve prices tend to have positive effects on the final auction price, though this finding does not take into account the fact that these instruments also decrease the probability of the auction resulting in an actual sale. Also, minimum bids appear only to have a significant effect when they are binding on a single bidder's bid, as predicted by economic 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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Suggested Citation

  • Doug Bryan & David Lucking-Reiley & Naghi Prasad & Daniel Reeves, 2000. "Pennies from eBay: the Determinants of Price in Online Auctions," Econometric Society World Congress 2000 Contributed Papers 1736, Econometric Society.
  • Handle: RePEc:ecm:wc2000:1736

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    Cited by:

    1. Philipp Maier, 2005. "A global village without borders? international price differentials at eBay," Proceedings, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
    2. Anderson, Steve & Friedman, Daniel & Milam, Garrett & Singh, Nirvikar, 2004. "Buy it Now: A Hybrid Internet Market Institution," Santa Cruz Department of Economics, Working Paper Series qt21d715v9, Department of Economics, UC Santa Cruz.
    3. Paul Resnick & Richard Zeckhauser & John Swanson & Kate Lockwood, 2006. "The value of reputation on eBay: A controlled experiment," Experimental Economics, Springer;Economic Science Association, vol. 9(2), pages 79-101, June.
    4. Huettel, Silke & Odening, Martin & Kataria, Karin & Balmann, Alfons, 2013. "Price Formation on Land Market Auctions in East Germany – An Empirical Analysis," Journal of International Agricultural Trade and Development, Journal of International Agricultural Trade and Development, vol. 62(2).
    5. Luis Cabral & Ali Hortacsu, 2004. "The Dynamics of Seller Reputation: Theory and Evidence from eBay," NBER Working Papers 10363, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    6. Patrick Bajari & Ali Hortaçsu, 2004. "Economic Insights from Internet Auctions," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 42(2), pages 457-486, June.
    7. repec:wsi:serxxx:v:54:y:2009:i:03:n:s0217590809003422 is not listed on IDEAS
    8. repec:wsi:ijitmx:v:09:y:2012:i:03:n:s0219877012500174 is not listed on IDEAS
    9. Katkar Rama & Reiley David H, 2007. "Public versus Secret Reserve Prices in eBay Auctions: Results from a Pokémon Field Experiment," The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 5(2), pages 1-25, January.
    10. Alvin E. Roth & Axel Ockenfels, 2002. "Last-Minute Bidding and the Rules for Ending Second-Price Auctions: Evidence from eBay and Amazon Auctions on the Internet," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 92(4), pages 1093-1103, September.
    11. Anderson, Steve & Friedman, Daniel & Milam, Garrett & Singh, Nirvikar, 2004. "Seller Strategies on eBay," Santa Cruz Department of Economics, Working Paper Series qt43z3965f, Department of Economics, UC Santa Cruz.
    12. Richard Cebula & Richard McGrath, 2005. "Evidence of liquidity constraints found in theme park ticket auctions," Journal of Economics and Finance, Springer;Academy of Economics and Finance, vol. 29(1), pages 112-121, March.
    13. Yu Zhang & Jingping Gu & Qi Li, 2011. "Nonparametric panel estimation of online auction price processes," Empirical Economics, Springer, vol. 40(1), pages 51-68, February.
    14. Durham Yvonne & Roelofs Matthew R & Standifird Stephen S, 2004. "eBay's Buy-It-Now Function: Who, When, and How," The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 4(1), pages 1-24, October.
    15. Thomas Andrews & Cynthia Benzing, 2007. "The Determinants of Price in Internet Auctions of Used Cars," Atlantic Economic Journal, Springer;International Atlantic Economic Society, vol. 35(1), pages 43-57, March.
    16. Hortacsu, Ali, 2005. "Trust and Reputation on eBay: Micro and Macro Perspectives," Department of Economics, Working Paper Series qt8vj7d50q, Department of Economics, Institute for Business and Economic Research, UC Berkeley.
    17. Reynolds, Kristy E. & Gilkeson, James H. & Niedrich, Ronald W., 2009. "The influence of seller strategy on the winning price in online auctions: A moderated mediation model," Journal of Business Research, Elsevier, vol. 62(1), pages 22-30, January.
    18. Chrysanthos Dellarocas, 2003. "The Digitization of Word of Mouth: Promise and Challenges of Online Feedback Mechanisms," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 49(10), pages 1407-1424, October.
    19. Baron, David P., 2001. "Private Ordering on the Internet: The eBay Community of Traders," Research Papers 1709, Stanford University, Graduate School of Business.
    20. Anderson, Steven & Friedman, Daniel & Milam, Garrett & Singh, Nirvikar, 2007. "Seller strategies on eBay: Does size matter?," MPRA Paper 4324, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    21. Günter Schamel, 2007. "Auction markets for specialty food products with geographical indications," Agricultural Economics, International Association of Agricultural Economists, vol. 37(2-3), pages 257-264, September.
    22. Rama Katkar & David Lucking-Reiley, 2000. "Public Versus Secret Reserve Prices in eBay Auctions: Results of Pok�mon Field Experiment," Vanderbilt University Department of Economics Working Papers 0026, Vanderbilt University Department of Economics.
    23. Axel Ockenfels, 2002. "Reputationsmechanismen auf Internet-Marktplattformen - Theorie und Empirie -," Papers on Strategic Interaction 2002-46, Max Planck Institute of Economics, Strategic Interaction Group.
    24. Weinberg, Bruce D. & Davis, Lenita, 2005. "Exploring the WOW in online-auction feedback," Journal of Business Research, Elsevier, vol. 58(11), pages 1609-1621, November.
    25. repec:wsi:ijmpcx:v:17:y:2006:i:10:n:s012918310600993x is not listed on IDEAS

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