How Goethe figured second price auction much before William Vickrey…

Stamp auctions anticipated Vickery as well.

Mostly Economics

I just learnt how Fisher figured the Philips Curve before AW Philips.

Now this gem by Avinash Tripathi tells us how the famous German polymath Johann Wolfgang von Goethe figured second price auction way back in 18th century:

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749-1832) was arguably the greatest German writer, poet and polymath of the Romantic era. His forays in science, diplomacy, literature etc are well-known. His dabblings in the applied economics and auction design are less known however.

One incident in particular is worth mentioning. While selling the publishing rights of his epic poem ‘Hermann and Dorothea’, Goethe had made an intriguing proposal to his publisher. According to this proposal, Goethe would submit his reserve price in a sealed envelope. The publisher was asked to quote how much he was willing to pay for the publishing rights of this poem. If the price quoted by the publisher turned…

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About Jim Rose

Utopia - you are standing in it promotes a classical liberal view of the world and champion the mass flourishing of humanity through capitalism and the rule of law. The origin of the blog is explained in the first blog post at

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