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History of Auctions

It seems no one knows quite for sure when the first auction started. According to historical records the dates go back as far as 500 B.C. At that time men would auction off women for the purpose of being wives. According to documentation, if the women were beautiful they sold at a higher price. If they were not so attractive, the owners would have to incentivize the offer to get bids on the women. These auctions would start out at high prices and the price would go down until the first bid was reached, as long as the minimum reserve price was met, a sale was made.

The Chinese used auctions to raise money for religious leaders and the building of temples by auctioning off surplus goods.

Roman soldiers sold war plunder in auctions. At the beginning of the auction a licensed auctioneer would drive a spear into the ground. In Rome, around the time of Christ, auctions were also known to take place for family estates.

Auctions came to America with the Pilgrims in the 1600s. They would sell anything from crops of edible food to tobacco to livestock. Even entire farms were sold this way in the early days as a quick way to turn assets into cash.

Furs were really big in auctions in America and Canada. Europeans would buy furs to take back to sell to manufactures. Manufacturers would process the furs and turn them into hats and clothing for the retail market. The fur trade was primarily responsible for the settlement and development of North America.

From it's early days in America, the auction industry continued to grow until the Great Depression.

In the 1950s, auctions really began to soar. Selling real estate and goods via auction was a thriving business for many. Auctioneers were now considered to be businessmen. They wore suits and ties and had associations with banks, attorneys, accountants, and government agencies.

During the 1990s, auctions found their way into the world of technology, or vice versa. In the mid 90s auctions exploded on the World Wide Web, giving access places like eBay to people all over the world. Learn more information on Internet auctions.