Some of you have speculated that the Significant Object experiment’s duration affected sales prices — that is, you’ve speculated that objects auctioned off in the experiment’s first weeks no doubt sold for less, on average, than did objects auctioned off in its final weeks. (The experiment lasted for 19 weeks.) As word of the project spread, opportunities to purchase one of only 100 total objects decreased, and competition thus grew fiercer.
Click here to view a single table containing all our experimental data, and links to every post in which analysis of this data has been offered.
A quick glance at the Final Price, Week by Week table suggests that there probably is a Duration Factor along the lines suggested above. For example, as you can see in the chart excerpt reproduced below, none of the objects sold in Weeks 1 and 2 were ranked above #35/100, and the majority of them ranked in the bottom quartile.
Objects sold in Weeks 18 and 19, on the other hand, tended to rank in the top half of the results, and a couple of the objects are in our Top Ten.
Therefore, before drawing conclusions about what sorts of stories tend to make objects more or less significant, we ought to control for the Duration Factor. But how to proceed?
I thought of a formula: A – (B/C) = D, wherein:
A = The average final price of objects sold in the project’s 19th and final week, $36.83.
B = A particular week’s final sales total
C = The number of items sold that week (so B/C = the week’s average final price)
D = The amount to be added to any object sold that week, to correct for the Duration Factor.
For Week 1, for example, B = $247.30, and C = 13, so B/C = $19.02. Subtract that from A ($36.83) and you arrive at $17.81. Now add $17.81 to the final price of any object from Week 1. The Smiling Mug went for $32.08, for instance; now it would have adjusted final price of $49.89. Add $17.81 to each object from Week 1, add those adjusted totals together and divide by 13 again… and voila! Same average final price as Week 19. Duration Factor: neutralized.
Of course, we’d have to run these numbers on all our objects before determining whether the Smiley Mug’s ranking had increased or decreased relative to other objects as a result of this procedure. But before I started doing any of this math, I realized that some weeks might have an average final price that’s higher than Week 19’s $36.83. The answer for D in the equation above could be a negative number, meaning we might have to subtract some amount from every object sold during a certain week. But doing so doesn’t make sense, if we’re trying to control for the Duration Factor, which is predicated on the assumption that average final sales totals in general should rise, week by week.
So now what? Keep reading!
The fact that the difference between Week 1 and Week 19’s average final prices is almost exactly $18.00 (as noted above) struck me as propitious. What if we added $18.00 to the final sale price of each item in Week 1, $17.00 to the final sale price of each item in Week 2, and so forth through Week 18 ($1.00 added)? Week 19 sales prices, obviously, would not get adjusted. This would neutralize the Duration Factor without requiring us to subtract from the sale prices of any objects sold during weeks whose average total sales happen to be higher than Week 19’s. The Smiling Mug would go from $32.08 to $50.08, in this scenario. Compare that to, say the Ocean Scene Globe, whose unadjusted final ranking ($33.00) was slightly higher the Smiling Mug’s. After this Duration-adjustment, its price goes up, but only to $39.00, because it was sold much later, during Week 13. Under Duration-corrected figures, then, the Smiling Mug ranks higher than the Ocean Scene Globe — in fact, when you look at the new chart, you’ll see that the Smiling Mug is now 16 places above the Ocean Scene Globe. So correcting for Duration Factor can make quite a difference. But will it change our Top Ten list? Will it affect the Bottom Ten? Let’s find out.
Following the procedure outlined in the previous paragraph, I’ve gone ahead and adjusted final prices for our 100 objects. After the jump, you’ll find a table displaying the following: Week, Object, Final Price, and Adjusted Price. I’m eager to hear your analysis of this data. Please publish your comments at the end of this post.
1. Original and Final Price (plus Author & Sales Rank)
2. Final Price, Week by Week (plus Author & Sales Rank, minus Original Price)
3. Final and Adjusted Price, Week by Week (minus Author & Original Price)
|Sales Rank||Object||Final Price||Adjusted Price|
|Week 08||1||Russian Figure||$193.50||$204.50|
|Week 15||2||Indian Maiden||$157.50||$161.50|
|Week 17||3||Wooden Animal||$108.50||$110.50|
|Week 18||4||Pink Horse||$104.50||$105.50|
|Week 13||5||"Hawk" Ashtray||$101.00||$107.00|
|Week 04||7||Metal Boot||$86.00||$101.00|
|Week 04||8||Cape Cod Shoe||$77.51||$92.51|
|Week 15||9||Fish Spoons||$76.00||$80.00|
|Week 16||9||Fake Banana||$76.00||$79.00|
|Week 19||9||Missouri Shotglass||$76.00||$76.00|
|Week 03||12||Duck Tray||$71.00||$87.00|
|Week 05||14||Cow Vase||$62.00||$76.00|
|Week 18||14||Felt Mouse||$62.00||$63.00|
|Week 09||16||Sand Animal||$57.66||$67.66|
|Week 06||17||Rhino Figurine||$57.00||$70.00|
|Week 05||18||Kneeling Man Figurine||$56.50||$70.50|
|Week 19||19||Geisha Bobblehead||$56.00||$56.00|
|Week 17||20||BBQ Sauce Jar||$54.00||$56.00|
|Week 09||21||Bird Figurine||$52.00||$62.00|
|Week 18||22||Rooster Oven Mitt||$51.99||$52.99|
|Week 05||23||Meat Thermometer||$51.00||$65.00|
|Week 09||25||Ziggy Heart||$50.00||$60.00|
|Week 18||25||Jar of Marbles||$50.00||$51.00|
|Week 12||27||Motel Room Key||$45.01||$52.01|
|Week 13||28||Statute Dish||$42.00||$48.00|
|Week 05||29||Ireland Cow Plate||$41.00||$55.00|
|Week 06||29||Rope/Wood Monkey Figurine||$41.00||$54.00|
|Week 18||29||Amoco Yo-Yo||$41.00||$42.00|
|Week 14||32||Mr. Pickwick Coat Hook||$38.00||$43.00|
|Week 07||33||Marines (Upside-Down) Logo Mug||$37.00||$49.00|
|Week 16||33||Alien Toy||$37.00||$40.00|
|Week 01||35||Necking Team Button||$36.88||$54.88|
|Week 10||36||Seahorse Lighter||$36.00||$45.00|
|Week 11||36||Hand-Held Bubble Blower||$36.00||$44.00|
|Week 11||38||Round Box||$35.00||$43.00|
|Week 12||39||Cigarette Case||$33.77||$40.77|
|Week 13||40||Ocean Scene Globe||$33.00||$39.00|
|Week 01||41||Smiley Mug||$32.08||$50.08|
|Week 02||42||Halston Mug||$31.00||$48.00|
|Week 09||42||Penguin Creamer||$31.00||$41.00|
|Week 15||42||Windsurfing Trophy/Statue||$31.00||$35.00|
|Week 13||45||Crumb Sweeper||$30.99||$36.99|
|Week 19||46||Blue Vase||$30.00||$30.00|
|Week 19||47||Lighter Shaped Like Small Pool Ball||$27.00||$27.00|
|Week 01||48||JFK Bust||$26.00||$44.00|
|Week 01||48||Creamer Cow||$26.00||$44.00|
|Week 09||48||Praying Hands||$26.00||$36.00|
|Week 16||48||Dilbert Stress Toy||$26.00||$29.00|
|Week 17||53||Cracker Barrel Ornament||$24.50||$26.50|
|Week 07||54||Elvis Chocolate Tin||$24.00||$36.00|
|Week 01||55||Miniature Bottle||$23.00||$41.00|
|Week 01||56||Chili Cat Figurine||$22.72||$40.72|
|Week 17||57||Flip-Flop Frame||$21.80||$23.80|
|Week 11||58||Military Figure||$21.50||$29.50|
|Week 12||58||Choirboy Figurine||$21.50||$28.50|
|Week 14||58||Sea Captain Pipe Rest||$21.50||$26.50|
|Week 19||58||Umbrella Trinket||$21.50||$21.50|
|Week 06||62||PBR Opener||$20.51||$33.51|
|Week 08||63||Grain Thing||$20.50||$31.50|
|Week 11||63||Uncola Glass||$20.50||$28.50|
|Week 13||63||Ornamental Sphere||$20.50||$26.50|
|Week 14||63||Wave Box||$20.50||$25.50|
|Week 03||67||Tin Ark||$19.50||$35.50|
|Week 15||67||Thai Hooks||$19.50||$23.50|
|Week 04||69||Foppish Figurine||$17.82||$32.82|
|Week 01||70||Sanka Ashtray||$17.79||$35.79|
|Week 03||71||Spotted Dogs Figurine||$17.50||$33.50|
|Week 10||72||Cat Mug||$17.00||$26.00|
|Week 04||73||Dome Doll||$16.49||$31.49|
|Week 17||74||Swiss Medal||$16.00||$18.00|
|Week 12||75||Duck Vase||$15.75||$22.75|
|Week 02||76||Kitty Saucer||$15.53||$32.53|
|Week 01||77||Santa Nutcracker||$15.50||$33.50|
|Week 02||77||Piggy Bank||$15.50||$32.50|
|Week 04||77||Popsicle-Stick Construction||$15.50||$30.50|
|Week 07||77||Star of David Plate||$15.50||$27.50|
|Week 14||77||Toothbrush Holder||$15.50||$20.50|
|Week 12||83||Basketball Trophy||$14.90||$21.90|
|Week 01||84||Mule Figurine||$14.50||$32.50|
|Week 02||84||Nutcracker with Troll Hair (or something)||$14.50||$31.50|
|Week 03||84||Golf Ball Bank||$14.50||$30.50|
|Week 14||87||Clown Figurine||$11.61||$16.61|
|Week 01||88||Candyland Labyrinth Game||$11.50||$29.50|
|Week 01||88||Pen Stand||$11.50||$29.50|
|Week 03||90||"Hakuna Matata" Figurine||$10.50||$26.50|
|Week 06||90||Small Stapler||$10.50||$23.50|
|Week 19||90||Bar Mitzvah Bookends||$10.50||$10.50|
|Week 10||93||Coconut Cup||$10.00||$19.00|
|Week 10||94||Kentucky Dish||$6.75||$15.75|
|Week 01||95||Toy Toaster||$6.25||$24.25|
|Week 02||96||Fred Flintstone Pez Dispenser||$5.50||$22.50|
|Week 07||96||#1 Mom Hooks||$5.50||$17.50|
|Week 11||98||Hawaiian Utensils||$4.24||$12.24|
|Week 01||99||Toy Hot Dog||$3.58||$21.58|
|Week 07||100||Porcelain Scooter||$2.38||$14.38|
PS: If you dig our mug-shaped Significant Objects logo, then you’ll want to check out the Significant Objects Mug Mug, for sale now from Zazzle.
I realize that “might have been” does not factor into your analysis, but I do think that the final auction amount for the Missouri Shot Glass, with story by Jonathan Lethem, should be adjusted, since its final price would have been higher had it not been for an event that caused me to change my ebay password in early September.
I placed my bid for the shot glass in esnipe, and had forgotten to update the site with my new ebay password. They let me know that the password was not correct, and I updated it, but left out a number, so they were not able to enter my bid. My max bid was $105.50. There is no way to know the winning bidder’s max bid, but if I had not made that mistake, the shot glass would probably have gone for at least $86, if not more. Or maybe the other bidder’s max was even higher than mine, and it would have gone for $106 or more!
The bottom line is, there was someone out there who was willing to pay $105.50 for the shot glass because she liked the story so much, but remote causes kept that from happening.
Top Ten (actually Eleven, because of three-way tie for 9th place) objects, before adjustment: Russian Figure, Indian Maiden, Wooden Animal, Pink Horse, “Hawk” Ashtray, 4-Tile, Metal Boot, Cape Cod Shoe, Fish Spoons, Fake Banana, Missouri Shotglass.
Top Ten objects after adjustment: Russian Figure, Indian Maiden, Wooden Animal, “Hawk” Ashtray, Pink Horse, Metal Boot, 4-Tile, Cape Cod Shoe, Duck Tray, Mallet.
It’s striking how similar the Top Ten remains after adjustment. The top three objects remain the same in both scenarios, and they’re in the same order! After adjustment, “Hawk” Ashtray and Pink Horse swap places at #4 and #5. Metal Boot and 4-Tile swap places at #6 and #7. Cape Cod Shoe stays at #8. This suggests that our Top Eight objects truly deserve to be rated MOst Significant, regardless of Duration Factor.
Duck Tray and Mallet, both from Week 12, are the newcomers, at #9 and #10, edging out Fish Spoons, Fake Banana, and Missouri Shotglass, all of which made it into the (unadjusted) Top Ten thanks to the Duration Factor — they’re from Weeks 15, 16, and 19.
It’s also striking that adjustment for Duration Factor doesn’t change the overall results *that much*. Objects that ranked in the unadjusted Top Twenty, Thirty, Forty, and so forth tend to remain there, even if they’ve swapped places with similarly ranked objects.
However, it looks to me as though a few objects did jump up quite a bit in the rankings: Necking Team Button, Smiley Mug, Halston Mug, JFK Bust, Creamer Cow, Miniature Bottle, Chili Cat Figurine, maybe Sanka Ashtray — all from Week One. And a few objects from late in the project — Flip-Flop Frame, Umbrella Trinket, maybe Toothbrush Holder and Swiss Medal — look like they’ve dropped quite a bit. But before we can say any of this with certainty, I need to add another column to this table: Adjusted Sales Rank.
What is everybody else seeing? Any patterns I’m missing? Am I mistaken in my observations or analysis? Discuss!
wow-that’s a lot of analyizing! It’s a complicated issue.
There were several items I liked- the #58 Umbrella Trinket, the #47 Lighter and the #7 Metal Boot. They were very ‘male’ to me (I am one) and though I’m not much of a shopper, these were things I would consider purchasing. (Added to that was my perceived value of what I would top out at spending which was probably no more than $25)
What really completed them as a ‘good purchase’ were the stories attached. This was not true for other objects. If I hated the object, no story was going to save it, no matter how good the story.
Now if it were for a charity,that would probably change everything again.
I have an admittedly unscientific theory, which I’ll call the Metal Boot Peak Effect. I believe that there was a tipping point in Week 4 after which some process of disinhibition caused the possible peak price to shoot up for those objects with a certain X-factor. I’d speculate that a few items from Weeks 1-3 suffered inasmuch as they would have gone for much higher prices after the Metal Book Peak Event (Luc Sante’s Sanka Ashtray comes to mind), but the final prices for most items weren’t much affected by the Duration Factor. That is, I think these post MBPE peaks may be skewing your week-to-week averages.
We haven’t actually calculated week-to-week averages yet (we’ll do that and put the info in a bar chart soon) so that will be interesting, Mimi, to check out.
We should also calculate the median price, stuff like that.
This coming week we’re going to focus our attention on the narratives, not the objects. What sorts of moods, voices, themes, styles, are associated with the top-ranked objects? Wonder if any striking patterns will emerge?
PS: Metal Boot Peak Effect, good moniker. I encourage readers offering theories to give their theories titles like this one!
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Paula raises an interesting issue, but I think we have to stick to our guns and just go with actual prices paid. I’ve had lots of people say to me, “Oh if I’d known about that one I definitely would have bid,” regarding some of our earlier stories. That said — I’m really sorry that esnipe failed!
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