04 November, 2017



a public sale in which goods or property are sold to the highest bidder.

Was it During the Roman Empire? 

So now we know what it means but where did it all begin?

Following military victories, Roman soldiers would often drive a spear into the ground around which the spoils of war were left, to be auctioned off, or was it the English Candle auctions of the 17th & 18th Century where the end of the auction would be signalled by the expiration of a candle flame? 

Actually, it was much earlier with the first auctions being recorded as early as 500 B.C where the more sinister practice of auctioning women for marriage was held annually in Babylon. 

Auctions have also catered to the grand and the tastes of the unusual with the previously mentioned Roman Empire being auctioned off to Didius Julianus for the sum of 6,250 Drachmas per guard, it was a short-lived purchase however after its ownership was forcibly redistributed 2 months later when Didius Julianus bade farewell to his head when met by the forces of Septimus Severus. 

There are many more instances of unusual auction items from peoples hair to jars of breath, we will pen a future piece to give you a rundown of the weirdest and wonderful so watch this space!    

For most of history, auctions had been a relatively uncommon way to negotiate the exchange of goods and commodities and the first recorded auction house did not come into existence until 1674 when Stockholm Auction House in Sweden was founded by Baron Claes Rålamb. Other auction houses were created throughout this time with some still running to this day, Sotheby’s, Christies and Bonhams to name a few. So while previously uncommon the format had obviously captured peoples attention and has continued to flourish in the following years.

T’ward the tail end of the 18th Century daily auctions were commonplace with catalogues being produced detailing available items. The auctions were predominantly art based with the catalogues being considered works of art themselves with the amount of detail they would contain about the items. 

This form of auctioneering was turned on its head and catapulted into the modern era with the development of the Internet. The internet enabled Auctioneers to capture a wider range of bidders able to bid from anywhere in the world whilst auctioning items that were previously impractical which has allowed the auctions sector to reach gross revenue heights in the billions of pounds.

Detailed item catalogues were taken to the next level using the Internet with high-quality pictures, video and other visuals utilised to catch the attention of bidders and better show the items. 

Here at William George & Co, we have continued the trend of modernising auctions offering no seller premiums & competitive buyers premiums, want to find out more on how to sell with us, then head over to our selling page.





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