Hobby Markets Online

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Hobby Markets Online was an early internet auction company and which ran a series of person-to-person marketplaces for high-end collectibles. The Company is cited as the second person-to-person online auction marketplace after eBay and launched its first web-based auction on October 15, 1995,[1] several weeks after eBay had launched its first auction on September 12, 1995.[2] Both of these auction websites were launched in the San Francisco Bay Area although the respective founders did not know about each other or their websites at the time.


Hobby Markets was founded in April 1995 as Affinity Traders Online as a collection of online auction websites for different types of collectibles such as coins, stamps, sports memorabilia. The first internet-based auction was started on Numismatists.com, a coin collecting site, on October 15, 1995.

Hobby Markets later went on to launch three other web sites for Philatelists (stamps), Sportstrade (sports memorabilia), and AuctionVine (wine).


The founders of Hobby Markets Online Jonathan Hubbard and Wendy Dick. Hubbard was a second-year student at Harvard Business School and Dick was multimedia producer who at that time was producing some of the earliest electronic storefronts on AOL. Hubbard was a coin collector and was familiar with the pre-internet trading and auction systems.

Early designs of automated trading[edit]

Like the concurrent eBay internet auction system, sellers uploaded inventory to a database, buyers browsed inventory online, submitted bids online and received invoices automatically. Buyers then paid Sellers, Sellers shipped goods to Buyers and the Hobby Markets billed the seller a commission.

Hobby Markets introduced a number of innovative features to online auctioning including the first system for automatically increasing bids, SmartBid, and the first bid status feature, both of which were introduced in April 1996.[3]

Record stamp auction[edit]

On December 21, 1999, an online auction world record for a stamp was set with a winning bid of $397,838[4] for a US 24c Purple on Ribbed Paper (Scott 164). This stamp subsequently was sold again in 2004 by Siegel Auctions for $325,000.[5]


In 1998, Hobby Markets received an award for Best Business-to-Consumer electronic commerce site at the Annual BOTI Awards.

In December 1999, Hobby Markets Online merged with BoxLot, Inc. a privately held general person-to-person auction website and platform. In turn BoxLot was acquired by InfoSpace, Inc. in June 2000.

In 2007, Hobby Markets and its coin auction website Numismatists Online were cited as significant prior art in filings with the United States Patent and Trademark Office in the patent dispute eBay Inc. v. MercExchange, L.L.C..


New York Times Article citing Numismatists Online - May 1996 CMP Media - Network Computing Best of the Internet Award - 1998