As a wedding gift in 1986 my wife and I received three place settings of some exquisite china, Cumberland 2225 by Noritake to be specific. We had always meant to purchase more place settings, but this expense took a back seat to school tuition, braces, and all of the usual costs of raising children.
Since that point in time Noritake has discontinued this particular pattern, and we gradually lost interest in adding to our small collection of elegant dinnerware.
Now, personally, I do not spend a lot of time getting worked up about domestic issues beyond making sure the trash is out and the dishes are clean (two of my default responsibilities), but I have to admit it is pleasant to eat from fine china on occasion.
Lo and behold, though, my wife came across many entries on eBay for Noritake china interspersed with such items as condos for sale, and we were able to place a bid on a 52-piece collection of the discontinued series. We won the auction for just over $50, and best of all the seller lives just miles away from us.
We now have eleven place settings that actually match one another, as well as an assortment of accoutrements such as serving platters, a creamer, and a sugar bowl.
The ability of sites such as eBay to link buyers and sellers across the planet still amazes me, and this small example of a satisfactory Internet exchange demonstrates just one aspect of the ways in which the Web will continue to change the ways in which individuals participate in global markets. The sellers were able to unload china they never used, and the purchasers found discontinued merchandise at an affordable price with little more than a few mouse clicks.
Of course, bureaucrats in offices of the State of Ohio and the federal government are salivating over the prospect of finding ways to tax such transactions as this one, but for the moment the Internet serves as a medium of which Adam Smith would be proud.