Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution

Porter Hoagland

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Hoagland, P. and B. Foley, The implicit price of archaeological significance, Mimeo, 2005

Archaeological (or historical) artifacts are examples of differentiated economic goods, expressing multiple characteristics. One of these characteristics is an artifact’s archaeological significance, which may arise from an academic standard, a romantic notion, or a combination of the two. We develop a hedonic price model for estimating this value. We test the model using data on auction sales of US $20 no-motto double-eagle gold coins recovered from historic shipwrecks that were lost during the mid-19th century. Controlling for the quality and other characteristics of these coins, we find that archaeological significance bears an implicit price. On average, archaeological significance accounts for as much as 25 to 30 percent of the price of a double-eagle recovered from a historic shipwreck. We find further that archaeological significance interacts with a measure of coin quality, so that coins of higher quality bear a higher implicit price.

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